Church Eldership: Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are Elders?
Different types of churches organize their leadership in different sorts of ways, but at Rooftop we have a four-tier leadership structure. We have our Volunteers, who are overseen by our Leaders, who are overseen by the Staff, who are overseen by the Elders, (who are overseen by God and elected by the church). The Elders are a group of elected individuals who provide pastoral and organizational leadership to the church. They meet at least twice a month to perform a variety of functions, including praying for the people of Rooftop, providing the staff with guidance and direction, discerning God’s will for Rooftop, guarding the theology and teaching of the church, and overseeing the financial management of the church.
2. How are Elders added to the team?
The Rooftop Bylaws require that the size of the Elder Team must be between 3 and 12 individuals, and that new Elders are added at the Fall Business meeting, and are approved (or not approved) by the Voting Roster. Every year, the existing Elders discern whether or not to expand to Elder Team according to the needs of the team and the church. If the team senses that more Elders are needed, Elder candidates are nominated by the team itself. From this list of potential candidates the Elder Team identifies those qualified for Eldership (according to a pre-set standard of elder qualifications—see below), and meets with those qualified to discuss their willingness and ability to serve in the role. From there, we agree on a certain number of candidates to put forward to the Voting Roster.
3. What are Rooftop’s qualifications for Eldership?
Our baseline qualifications for Elders include the following: 1) Fully involved and committed to Rooftop, and a fourth-floor participant for at least one year, 2) Demonstration of some measure of spiritual and/or organizational leadership, in both informal and formal roles, 3) Some combination of shepherding, teaching, and leadership gifts, 4) Respectable family life (if relevant), and a good reputation with outsiders, 5) Knowledge of Scripture and no disagreements with the Rooftop Statement of Faith, 6) A commitment to meet the time and energy demands of eldership, 7) Life marked by the Spirit’s fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, 8) Basic agreement with Rooftop’s ministry philosophy and practice, 9) Life marked by prayerful conversation with God and other spiritual disciplines.
4. How long can Elders serve?
Elders are elected to a two-year term that can be renewed once after completed. Following the second two-year term, elders must step off the team for one year before being reconsidered.
5. Why are all the Elders men?
Paul’s first letter to Timothy (1 Tim. 2:8-15) indicates that it was the general practice and expectation in New Testament churches that elders should be men. This seems to be so for theological and practical reasons, and makes no statement regarding the inherent worth and value of women, who are seen in Scripture in a variety of teaching, leading, serving and preaching roles. Many in Rooftop disagree with this conclusion, and we continue to discuss the matter openly with one another as we learn more about the topic and the relevant Scriptures. However, this is the leadership of Rooftop’s interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:8-15, and our consequent practice.
6. Is Pastor Matt an Elder?
Yes. The Rooftop Bylaws require that the Lead Pastor of the church serve perpetually on the Elder Team, as (theoretically) he is qualified to serve as an elder and should be serving in that capacity. Where there are conflicts of interest (such as salary and performance review), the Lead Pastor is asked to excuse himself from conversation. Other paid staff members are not allowed to serve on the Elder Team.
7. Why do we vote on Elders?
In the book of Acts, chapter 6, the church is directed to “choose seven of your own men who are good, full of the Spirit and full of wisdom. We will put them in charge of this work.” These men do not necessarily become the first church elders of the New Testament, but their servant-leadership role emerges from a spirit of democracy in which the people of the church, in an organized way, recognized those among them who were capable of overseeing their practical needs. We borrow this idea of democratic election so that the Elders of Rooftop are recognized, by the church, as godly and respectable leaders. Additionally, this measure of democracy allows the people of Rooftop to have a vested interest in the leadership of the church and hold their leaders accountable.
8. How do I sign up to vote?
Because Rooftop does not have a formal membership-program with voting rights, we have a “Voting Roster,” for which anyone can sign up, provided they meet four basic conditions. It’s required that Voting Roster participants are 16 years old, are committed followers of Christ, attend Rooftop as their church home, and have been attending Rooftop for at least six months. The Voting Roster is approved by the elders two weeks before each State of the Roof meeting. To sign up for the Voting Roster, apply online at rooftop.org/vote.
If you have any more questions regarding eldership, please email Pastor Matt, or any of the existing Elders. They can be reached by their contact information, available on the Elder Team website, or through the church office: 314-833-3539.