Frequently asked

Q: I understand Grace Point's position on women as elders. What is the church’s opinion on women being qualified to be pastors, but not as elders? I notice we have several women on staff as pastors and I’m trying to understand the difference.

A: At Grace Point, all pastors ultimately report to the Lead Pastor. The Lead Pastor will be an elder and will always be a male. When looking for biblical precedence for a multi-staff church in the New Testament, we are hard-pressed. We have no signs whatsoever of a multi-pastored church in the New Testament. All seven churches of Revelation were single-recipients of the Lord's messages. Titus and Timothy wrote pastoral letters to the individual pastor. All those who have served in the New Testament in pastoral roles (Peter, James, John, Titus, and Timothy), all point to a top single male leader in the primary pastoral role.

We believe that GPC’s 14 pastoral positions, whether male or female, are an extension of the Lead Pastor as associate or assistant pastors. One can be a pastor but not be an elder, though all pastors should strive to live under the Biblical qualifications of an elder (2 Timothy 3).

Q: I really appreciate how thoughtfully you’re engaging in this process and how thoroughly you’re attempting to cover the topic. I am hopeful that it may lead to title recognition for our women who are already effectively serving in pastoral roles, but without that official designation. In regard to elders, I can totally understand the scriptural rationale for male-only elders; however, how are we ensuring that our elders will effectively and fairly consider how their decisions will affect our female church members, pastors, community, etc.? I get pretty nervous (or sometimes I can even be more skeptical) when I encounter male-only meetings/leadership, as we know that they can make decisions that are not in the best interest of females, or at least don’t consider or understand the nuances and implications of how a decision will impact females. What are we doing to ensure that this won’t happen at GPC? Are we at all open to considering having a few (certain, elected, qualified) females attend the elder meetings in order to provide their perspectives and opinions, even if ultimately they may not hold an official “vote” in governance? I’m sure there are other ways to do this effectively, but I want to feel good about how GPC lifts up and rightly values the females in our church, and not leave them out, especially when it comes to governance/decision-making.

A: Thanks for your affirmation about the process.  We have sought a lot of outside counsel, but not before we spent significant time searching and studying the Scriptures. We feel we have landed on a very inclusive position that promotes women and encourages the role of women to have a voice in leadership.

Complementarianism (a theological view that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities) has many definitions today, but our view comes from studying the Scripture. From the opening pages of Scripture, we find that God, in His wisdom and providence, created two complementary sexes for our good and His glory. We affirm that because both are created in God’s image, men and women share more in common as divine image bearers, than distinguishes them. Men and women are absolutely equal in essence, dignity, and value. At the same time, they are complementary by divine design. Men and women correspond to one another. We believe that in every sphere of life, male and female image bearers flourish in partnership. Where complementarity is lacking or absent, both genders suffer. The beauty of complementarity is seen in a robust congregational life. The Bible uses imagery and language to describe a vision of brothers and sisters partnering together in the kingdom of God. When we don’t empower both men and women in complementarian partnership, the mission suffers. When the Great Commission of Jesus Christ is central to the church, we will see both men and women making disciples of all nations.  

How does this look on a day-to-day leadership level? We do call women in the pastoral role “pastors.”  Our preschool pastor is a woman. We recognize this as a calling and position that fit underneath the Lead Pastor.  So in a practical way:

1. We are expanding the role of deacons to include women.

2. Currently more than half of our trustees are women.

3. We consider women in pastoral roles to be pastors.

4. We will have more women speakers share messages on Sunday mornings.

5. The team leader of our children's ministry is a woman. Women can become Navigators, and Navigators will meet in a regular cadence with the elders.

We believe the primary role of the elders is to lead the spiritual direction of our church. For this to be true, the interaction between the pastoral staff and the elders must be frequent and robust. With this interaction, it will allow our female pastors to be able to speak into the direction of each ministry.

Q: How will the elders and Trustees work together to align on Grace Point Church’s priorities & setting up a budget each year? What will the dynamic be between these to bodies?

First, we want to affirm that Trustees maintain a very important role at Grace Point. We want to ensure, as far as is humanly possible, that we have multiple layers of accountability as it relates to our fiscal responsibilities and both Trustees and elders will play a role in this.

Practically speaking: elders will work with our pastor and staff to prayerfully set the direction and priorities of our church. Elders will help ensure that the resource allocation, at a high level, matches the priorities of Grace Point. Functionally, the Trustees will work with our staff to provide guidance and accountability for our budget setting and day to day financial practices. Trustees will work with the staff to establish a detailed annual budget, which the elders will approve. Trustees will work with the staff throughout the year to manage the budget and expenses according to the receipts/giving of the church.  

To help ensure there is connectivity between these two bodies, there will be an elder representative on the Trustee Board.

Q: What is the process for selecting elders?

We will have a six-month vetting of future elders:

Recommendation phase – Grace Point members are encouraged in January to submit names of people who they feel meet or exceed the qualifications for being an Elder.

Interview phase –Each qualifying name will be considered through an application process, ensuring they align with the doctrine and mission of the Grace Point Church. Multiple interviews will take place with the prospective elders and their spouse.

Recognition phrase –a list of proposed elders will be presented to the church asking church members if they feel they can follow the leadership of each elder. They will be given the month of April to pray through each proposed elder and lend their support and affirmation. During this period, members will be allowed to raise objections to elder selections.

Affirmation phase –any character objections that are submitted regarding a proposed elder will be handled according to 1 Timothy 5:19. Once the voice of the congregation is heard in the recognition stage, the new elders will be introduced and prayed over at our annual Strategy Meeting in June and be instated as an elder for one term.

Q: How long will elders serve?

Each elder will be asked to serve a single four-year term, with a possible two-year extension.

Q: Are elders paid?

None of our elders will be paid. It is a volunteer role in the church. Even the selected staff member elders serve voluntarily (staff elders are paid for pastoral duties and responsibilities, but not for the elder role).

Q:  Why will some pastors also serve as elders?

We will address this question from Scripture and then from common practice: Scripture isn’t abundantly clear on how the elder and pastor work together other than the fact that they do at times run on “parallel tracks.” The word elder and pastor seemed to be used synonymously (1 Peter 5). When Peter is talking about shepherding, he is also talking about ruling. From common practice: four out of the five churches we studied had their lead pastor (senior pastor, directional leader pastor, whatever title they gave him) was an elder. The one church that didn’t said they regret that he was not and were likely going to change that. A number of other churches had a spot for an executive pastor. Our plan is to include the Lead Pastor, Executive Pastor, and one more, in this case, Andrew Brown. The net gain of the role is to bring a plurality of pastors speaking to the plurality of leaders about the work and ministry.

Q: What are the accountability mechanisms in place for the pastors who will also be elders?

We will always have more non-staff elders than paid staff elders. The accountability structure will continue to be as follows: the lead pastor will report to the non-staff elders. All other pastors are within an organizational structure that reports up to the lead pastor. Pastors who are also elders will report according to the organizational chart that we have in place for day-to-day ministry.

Q: Would it be beneficial to have some different members to fill these roles to get broader perspectives and assistance?

We definitely want to bring new and diverse members into leadership. By adding elders and transitioning the deacon ministry into a true deacon ministry, we will see increased and more diverse leadership. We will always seek out potential elders, trustees, deacons, and even pastors if God calls them.

If you have a question about ELDERS at Grace Point Church, Please complete this form.