This document[1] is designed to explain the practical functioning of MZAT (Melchizedek Apostolic Team) at Melchizedek House of Prayer (MZHOP). Specifically, it will discuss presuppositions that guide the overall structure and function of MZAT, the qualities and responsibilities of the elders, the length of the commitment to MZAT, some guiding principles for functioning as a team, the expectations for elder team meetings, and the process by which elders are established.

 

  1. I.                    Presuppositions:
    1. Jesus is the Senior Leader of MZHOP. He builds and sustains it. It’s His work.
    2. Having godly, courageous, skilled, and unified leadership is essential to the health of the church.
    3. Elders are the male leaders of the church who are synonymously called pastors, bishops, and overseers through the New Testament. While the various words are used interchangeably, they each refer to a differing aspect of the same role in the same office. Therefore, MZAT will consist of both paid and unpaid elders.
    4. Elder is an office, not an identity. The elders are those officially serving on the team.
    5. A person does not need to be an elder to have influence or leadership in MZHOP. There will be some excellent leaders who do not hold the office of elder.
    6. Eldership should be a great joy and life-giving experience. It need not be destructive to a man’s spiritual vitality, family, ministry, or quality of life.
    7. As MZHOP grows in size and complexity (additional staff, ministries, campuses, etc.), the structure and function of MZAT will need to experience change and reorganization.
    8. The leadership structure of MZHOP must be flexible enough to get the right people to the table for any given decision.

 

  1. II.                  Qualities of Elders:
    1. Elders must consistently demonstrate the qualities described in 1 Timothy 3:2-7 and Titus 1:6-9.[2]
    2. In addition to godly character, elders must demonstrate competency (the skills involved in leading ministry) and commitment, as well as share a high level of chemistry with the existing elders. This does not mean that the elders will all have the same personalities, temperaments, or gifts, but it does mean that they will have the ability to joyfully work together as committed ministry partners.
    3. Elders need to have attended MZHOP for at least six months with a consistent track record of servanthood, ministry faithfulness, and attend a small group and faithful giving to the church. See VII.

 

  1. III.                Responsibilities of MZAT:
    1. Oversee the Church (1 Peter 5:2; 1 Timothy 5:17)

Guard the church’s Doctrine[3], Mission, Vision, and Core Values[4]

Maintain responsibility for financial integrity of church through review and approval of top-level budget expenditures

Engage in the long range planning for facilities

Approve hiring and firing of paid staff

Approve and send church planters

  1. Tend to the Needs of the Flock (Acts 20:28)

Regularly attend worship gatherings and be involved in the mainstream flow of church life (small groups, special events, ministries, etc.)

Lead, teach, and minister in your sphere of influence

Develop additional leaders in the church[5]

Pray regularly for the church

Pray for the sick as requested

  1. Be on Watch for Trouble (Acts 20:29-31; Hebrews 13:17)

Individually be grounded in the Scripture and connected to the Spirit so that we know what trouble looks like

Exercise church discipline on unrepentant Christians

Evaluate our mistakes and, if necessary, take steps to correct them

  1. Live the Normal Christian Life (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:3)

We do not ask others to go where we have not been

Model through our:

 

  1. IV.                Length of Commitment for Elder Team:
    1. Elders should have a heart to serve the church on MZAT as long as they are able, effective, and can do it energetically. Thus, an elder should have the humility and wisdom to willingly remove himself from the team if he is no longer able to effectively serve on the team.
    2. Elders will commit to one-year terms, which may be renewed indefinitely. Men who anticipate that they will only be elders for a short time would be wise to avoid the process altogether. The annual assessment for MZAT will happen at the same time each year.

 

  1. V.                  Guiding Principles for Functioning as a Team:
    1. Mutual submission.  The Lead Pastor functions as the “first among equals,” and the entire elder team submits to one another on the basis of strengths, passions and giftedness.[6]
    2. Unity is a High Priority.  Unity must include theological agreement about what doctrines we will and will not fight over, relational warmth and sincere friendships that include spouses and children, philosophical agreement regarding what ministry methods will and will not be used, and a missional partnership that agrees to stay on task to fulfill God’s mission for MZHOP.
    3. Big-Picture Leadership.  MZAT’s authority over the whole church rests in the team as a whole. Individual board members do not have authority over the whole church (though they will often have authority over their specific areas of ministry). MZAT should focus on the big-picture mission, doctrine, ministry principles, and vision of the church rather than the details of implementation. Additional, team members are responsible for creating the future, not minding the shop. Additionally, team members are responsible first and foremost for the health and well-being of the church as a whole and are not representatives or advocates of specific ministries or groups. Outside of elder team decisions, individual elders must honor, submit to, and work through the appropriate chain of command and leadership in any given ministry area.
    4. Choose to trust.  MZAT will choose to trust each other, rather than suspect each other. We will develop a culture of trust, building on these five commitments:

I will believe the best about my fellow elders. I will always have their back. To the best of my ability, I will not surprise my fellow elders.

When other people assume the worst about you, I will come to your defense.

If what I experience begins to erode my trust, I will come directly to you to talk about it.

When I am convinced I will not be able to deliver on a promise, I will come to you ahead of time.

When you confront me about the gaps I’ve created, I will tell you the truth.

  1. Candid communication.  MZAT expects open, candid communication between team members and during team meetings. MZAT requires gospel-rooted security and thick skin that enables us to share our thoughts candidly and, when necessary, fight like family. This will allow team members to share openly and offer warnings or disagreements while a decision is being considered, but then champion and defend the decision after it is made.
  2. Relationships Nurture Trust.  It is always believe the best and trust men with whom you have relational warmth and sincere friendship. Elders should invest in one another relationally and cultivate the kinds of authentic friendships that we would call our people to embrace. This does not mean that elders need to be best friends, spend lots of free time together, or have each other over for dinner all the time. But it does mean that each elder is responsible to cultivate healthy relationships with other elders.

 

  1. VI.                Expectations for Elder Team Meetings:
    1. The elder will meet twice per month. All elders are expected to attend and must give advance notification when absent.

One meeting will be exclusively for prayer, ministry training, discipleship and mutual care  (these meetings may sometimes include spouses and/or children).

            One meeting will be focused on church oversight or “business.” These meetings will have a set agenda, which will be organized by the Lead Pastor. Agenda items must be submitted in advance. Often times, proposals or ideas should be distributed in writing in advance in order to maximize the effectiveness of the discussion.

  1. The elders will have at least one out-of-town experience together per year. This may be a retreat, going to a conference together, or doing an out of town “church tour” trip.
  2. Additional meetings may be required to deal with unexpected or time-sensitive issues.

 

  1. VII.              Elder Process:
    1. Establish an Observable Track Record

Establish a known track record serving, leading and giving in MZHOP with demonstrated leadership skills and observable fruit in ministry, marriage and family life.

  1. Nomination Phase

MZAT may nominate and approach certain men whom the team thinks should prayerfully consider being an elder.

When an MZHOP partner senses an internal call from the Holy Spirit to serve as an elder/pastor, he should make his desire known to the current elder team. Those men will confirm the calling and give further direction.

All elders must approve nominees to enter the Applicant Phase.

  1. Applicant Phase

MZAT will assign each applicant a supervising elder, who will answer questions and be the primary point of contact for the applicant.

The applicant will submit the following information to his supervising elder:

  1. 1.       Updated family photo
  2. 2.       Applicant essay – Personal history essay including family origin, martial history, theological influences, eldership calling and testimony
  3. 3.       Family finance survey
  4. 4.       Pastoral questionnaire
  5. 5.       Confidential personal questionnaire/Background check forms – Must be submitted before interview

The application phase is to be completed with an assessment interview of the applicant and his wife (usually over dinner) by the supervising elder and at least one other elder to determine if the candidate continues with the eldership process after reviewing the above documents.

All elders must approve applicants to enter the Candidate Phase.

  1. Candidate Phase

Once a man has had his calling and qualifications confirmed by the elders, he may enter a phase of study and preparation for the specific work of eldership. This phase involves intentional mentorship by the current elders and careful biblical, theological, and philosophical study regarding the roles, responsibilities, and functions of elders. The time required to complete this phase will vary by individual.

Each candidate is recommended to read the follow books in this phase:

  1. 1.       “Undercover” by John Bevere
  2. 2.       “Reformed Pastor” by Richard Baxter
  3. 3.       “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” by John Piper and Wayne Grudem
  4. 4.       “No Man Is an Island” by Thomas Merton
  5. 5.       “Purifying the Altar” by Al Houghton
  6. 6.       “Doctrine” by Mark Driscoll
  7. 7.       “Loyalty” by Bob Sorge

Each candidate is recommended to listen to the following sermons:

  1. 1.       “Leading with Meekness 1&2” Allen Hood
  2. 2.       “10 Shekels and a Shirt” Paris Reidhead
  3. 3.       “Power of a Focused Life” Mike Bickle
  4. 4.       “Attaining to Sonship” Art Katz

This phase can include:

Invitation to elder meetings for observation and participation

Multiple conversations and interactions with current elders to assess the candidate’s “fit” in the ministry context of MZHOP (Note: It is possible for a man to personally meet all the biblical qualifications, yet not fit the chemistry of the existing elder team).

Follow-up on any issues raised during the assessment interview.

When the supervising elder senses that the candidate is ready, he will recommend him for the

Approval Phase:

All elders must approve candidates to enter the Approval Phase.

  1. Approval Phase

At the beginning of the Approval Phase, the partners of MZHOP will be urged to evaluate the lives and conduct of the potential elders. If a partner is aware of any disqualifying sin or character flaw in an elder candidate, he or she will be urged to make the matter known to the existing elders, who will investigate the claim. Partners will have a 4-week window in which to bring any concerns.

All elders must vote to install the candidate as an elder.

  1. Installation

Following the satisfactory completion of all requirements, new elders will be installed publicly at an MZHOP MCF gathering.



[1] The specifics of this document, particularly sections IV, VI, and VII are subject to change as the church grows, changes, and more lessons are learned that will allow us to improve.

[2] For a more detailed explanation of these qualities, see Mark Driscoll, On Church Leadership and Gene Getz, Elders and Leaders. Note regarding some of the more controversial qualities: (1) We take “able to teach” to mean an effective Bible communicator in a group setting. This does not mean “able to wow an auditorium full of people,” but it does mean ‘able to communicate in a practical, accurate, clear, and engaging way with at least a small group of people.” (2) We take “husband of one wife” to mean a one-woman man. Men who have experienced divorce must be considered on a case-by-case basis. (3) We take “submissive children” and “children who believe (faithful)” to mean that the man has been successful in raising obedient, honorable children. The specific outworking of this in any man’s life will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

[3] Available for review at http://mzhop.org/statementoffaith.aspx and  http://mzhop.org/affirmationsanddenials.aspx

[4] Available for review at http://mzhop.org/aboutus.aspx

[5] “An elder is not someone who is a helper that does a lot of work for the church, because that is the definition of a deacon. Rather, an elder is a leader who trains other leaders to lead various aspects of the church…no man should be an elder unless he can effectively train people to not only be mature Christians, but can also train some of those mature Christians to be church leaders who train other leaders” (Driscoll, On Church Leadership, 19-20).

[6] Alexander Strauch writes, “Failure to understand the concept of ‘first among equals’ (or 1 Timothy 5:17) has caused some elderships to be tragically ineffective in their pastoral care and leadership. Although elders act jointly as a council and share equal authority and responsibility for the leadership of the church, all are not equal in their giftedness, biblical knowledge, leadership ability, experience, or dedication” (Biblical Eldership, 45).