Jesus Christ is the Head of His church which includes this local church. Pastor-Elders in a local church are the highest form of human government. Pastor-Elders lead this church in submission to Him and each other.
Southlands church is not a democracy but led by men appointed and recognized with the gift of and grace for leadership. (Heb. 13:7, 17). Scripture uses three words interchangeably to refer to function of one and the same person:
- “Presbuteros” – Elder (executes God’s justice and government and administrates the affairs of the church.
- “Episcopos” – Overseer or bishop (oversees, a guardian, gatekeeper or watchman).
- “Poimain” – Shepherd or pastor (shepherd the flock, nurture and care for the flock, feed the flock).
(See Acts 20:17, 28, Titus 1:5,7, 1 Peter 2:25, 5:1-2) What that means practically is that Pastor-Elders oversee every aspect of church life, they oversee, lead and feed God’s church. They are mutually accountable and are led by a visionary or lead elder. We place a high value on the team dynamics of our leadership.
This is the only other office mentioned in the scriptures in the local church. The Greek word for deacon is “diakonis” and means “servant, and who ministers alongside, ‘helper.”’ This does not mean that our deacons are servants and do menial jobs. Everyone in the church should have a servant heart. What it does mean though, is that the deacons come alongside the elders, assisting them in the pastoring of the church, releasing them “to prayer and ministry of the Word.” (Acts 6:1-8) Our deacons, together with and under the oversight of elders, exercise oversight in home groups and other care groups.
As an eldership team we hold a value of plurality and consensus on decisions of doctrine, direction and discipline. We also believe that every team has a leader, with Alan Frow taking the role of lead pastor, but this is done as a ‘first among equals’ rather than as a senior pastor with associate pastors. We believe in the autonomy of the local church, in which the elders are the highest governing authority in that church, but we do not believe it is healthy or wise for a church to be independent. As a team we actively seek accountability and counsel from men with whom we have relationship and in whom we recognize an Ephesians 4 gifting of either apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher or evangelist. We have a financial counsel team made up of men and women active in the life of the church that we meet with quarterly. We partner with Advance, a church planting and strengthening network. This team is our main vehicle of accountability as we align with Advance in terms of doctrine and values, shared mission, recognized leadership and genuine relationship. In close relationship with these churches and their leaders we seek guidance, wisdom and to provide the necessary stability, strength and accountability intrinsic to a healthy local church.