Insights into Thriving Relationships Between Elders & Senior Church Leaders with Ben Cachiaras
Thanks for joining us for this week’s unSeminary podcast. This week we’re talking with Ben Cachiaras, lead pastor of Mountain Christian Church. Mountain Christian Church was founded back in 1824 and currently has four campuses in Maryland.
Ben is with us today to talk about how to foster thriving relationships between the elders and the senior staff at your church.
- Theology of eldership. // The sad reality about many relationships between elders and senior church leaders is that they can be antagonistic. Navigating the challenges of this relationship are vitally important because the mission of the church is at stake, and so is the health of the pastor. Where does one begin in taking steps toward unity and strong, healthy relationships? First ask what is the theology of eldership at your church. Are the biblical descriptions checklists, or descriptions of the kind of elders you’re looking for? Why or why aren’t they important to your church?
- Ask important questions. // Mountain Christian Church has a high view of eldership. Among some of the qualities and characteristics they look at are: someone who has mission of the church at stake, someone who is a person of character and competency. Would they have chemistry with the other people on the team, and are they ready for the commitment? What does their stewardship and contribution at church look like? Lastly, do they have a Christ-centered home? Developing elders is part of the leadership pipeline at Mountain Christian; these individuals are already serving and demonstrating leadership and MCC seeks to help them rise to their next level.
- Develop a year-round process to find and create elders. // Some years ago Ben began this leadership pipeline process for elders by inviting some people to talk with him and two existing elders about developing their skills and leadership in the church. This led to a 13-week period of development where they met and studied scripture, holiness, character, and skills such as how to develop a team and cast vision. Now there is a booklet and curriculum developed to walk people through everything from their gifting and personality tests to spiritual disciplines and leadership skills. This leadership pipeline has become a great source for discovering future elders.
- Relationally connect. // Teams that are relationally connected lead better. The elders need to be in deep relationship with Christ and bring their strengths to the table. And Ben and his elder team care about each other and know what is going on in each other’s lives. When the elders are taking their walk with Christ seriously and their relationship with each other seriously, they can lead the church better.
- Meet regularly. // At Mountain Christian there are regular meetings to nurture these relationships. During monthly business meetings they examine high level metrics and trends at the church together. There are also monthly study meetings in which they talk about non-business things. This might include reading and discussing a book together as well as meeting over a meal at someone’s house and spending time in prayer. Lastly, go on offsite retreats annually. MCC uses this time not only to build camaraderie but also to prepare for new challenges. Sometimes it’s just the elders attending the retreats and other times their spouses come along too.
- Trust each other. // The role of elders is vitally important at a church. But in order for their role to be effective, there must be trust between the pastor and elders. Elders need an instinct not to control everything, but rather function at a higher level to protect the church. On the other side, if the lead pastor is defensive about questions he’s asked, that’s a big yellow flag. Create a culture that validates the relational component of eldership and makes time for it. When you have a team aligned, you’ll be able to lead well with vision.
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