Recently Bruce Wesley, Lead Pastor of Clear Creek Community Church, wrote about CCCC’s recent shift to an elder structure that had virtually remained unchanged since our founding twenty years ago. In doing so, he also highlighted the path taken in our elder development process – one in which I was tasked to develop a training pathway and write/compile/edit materials for those sessions. With the increasing number of requests we receive at CCCC concerning our elder development process, I thought posting Bruce’s words would be beneficial for understanding the steps we took and are taking to establish a new group of elders at CCCC. The letter is as follows:
At the 2014 annual Members’ Celebration in March, I introduced twenty new elder candidates along with the explanation of why we need so many more elders. The reasons we need additional elders include:
- Spiritual Formation — our previous system made no room for men who aspire to be elders, although this is a biblical aspiration (1 Timothy 3:1). Restructuring will lift the lid on church leadership by allowing other men to become elders and serve the church.
- Multiple Campuses — we need elders at every campus.
- Shepherding — elders are shepherds. Our current structure is not conducive to elders being involved with the entire congregation. We have too few elders serving too many people. Adding elders creates a structure to provide more robust care of the entire congregation with elders at all campuses for pastoral care, doctrinal oversight and discipline.
I want you to know the process for selecting the current elder candidates and for preparing them for congregational affirmation. Here’s a brief description of the process. Campus pastors were asked to:
(1) identity potential candidates, who were
(2) considered by the current elders and then
(3) interviewed by the campus pastors. Those who met biblical qualifications, who had the necessary margin in their life and who were willing to be trained as elders were
(4) invited into a one year long period of training and assessment. At the conclusion of the first year, the men were
(5) presented to the church as elder candidates at the Members’ Celebration. The second year of the process is intended to include
(6) training and testing. The elder candidates will function as elders alongside campus pastors as a way of testing their readiness and training them to become elders. Those deemed ready will be
(7) presented to the church for affirmation in the spring of 2015. Elder candidates
(8) affirmed by the congregation will be
(9) installed to serve as elders of Clear Creek Community Church.
Note two important points. First, campus pastors were given the freedom to identify men they wanted to train to serve as elders since the campus pastors will work most closely with these men. Other elders evaluated whether the men selected were qualified before the candidates were invited into the training process. Second, elder candidates were presented to the congregation only after they had completed the first year of training. Thus, if a man started the process and did not finish for any reason, it would not be a public matter.