Eldering in a Decentralized Movement

Elders in Decentralized MovementKaleo Church began with a vision of preaching the Word and gathering people to be on mission to the world. Originally our dream amounted to being the ‘Mars Hill’ of San Diego, where I had come from and the church that planted us. For a variety of reasons this vision shifted as we saw the tensions of growing one large service here in San Diego. It was through the influence of Harbor Presbyterian we felt gospel-motivated to change our vision to become a multi-site church planting movement with elders preaching the Word at each location. We felt smaller bodies of people gathering together made more sense. It allowed a more intimate community, contextualization, greater volunteering, and participation and a wider presence throughout the city as we started new sites. At this time we took a group of people and started a second site at the San Diego State University campus. Kaleo now was a multi-site church with two service locations in San Diego. In this new model we envisioned elders would primarily live out their ‘eldering’ in a specific site. As we began plans for a third site several elders were to go with the new location.

Through prayer and through a process of re-imagining what forms of church would best assist the forward progress of the gospel the vision of Kaleo shifted a second time. Kaleo, with the influence of Total Church and our friendship with Soma Communities began to examine how believers could ‘live out the gospel’ centered on the Word in community on mission to the world. It was at this time we disbanded the few Bible Studies meeting mid-week throughout the city and began forming ‘Missional Communities’. As this process has taken place we now have Missional Communities throughout the county of San Diego some have been a half-hour North or East of San Diego but at each one 8-30 people gather throughout the week to share their lives one-to-another, to be on mission and to grow in their gospel understanding. The primary ethos of ‘being the church’ is now in the small home gatherings throughout the week that gather together with other Missional Communities on Sunday’s for a celebration service.

In this shift the role and responsibilities of the Elders had to change. How should an elder express his role in the decentralized life of Missional Communities?

Here is our beginning thoughts: (click on below image for larger view)

Elders in Decentralized Movement Small

An elder primarily expresses his role through the oversight in the life of a local community. This is done as follows: (~20-60 people)
• Overseeing 2-3 Missional Communities.
• Being on mission and teaching people how to live missionally.
• Counseling people
• Teaching
• Active discipleship of leaders who lead MC and other areas.
• Leading people in prayer
• Ensuring mercy ministries are occurring locally and that people are meeting needs of the church community.
• Being active in the marriage, funerals, baptisms, teaching of sacraments and baby covenant service of your local community.
• Conducting new member interviews for those in their area.
• Demonstrating hospitality and encouraging others to be hospitable.
• Visiting people, following-up when people seem to be missing.

An Elder secondarily expresses his role through a local site:
• Regular attendance at the weekly site gathering.
• Serving communion at the site gathering.
‚Ä¢ Ensuring the needs of those who attend the ‘service’ but are not part of a MC are met.

Lastly, Elders also are committed to the vision of the movement and are involved in helping the corporate body.
• Lead the movement in one ‘cause’ area. (Eg. Apologetics class, Premarital Class, Site Director)
‚Ä¢ Attend regular movement-wide elder meetings and elder/deacon meetings. Kaleo recognizes this role requires a tremendous commitment to meet with people, build relationships, answer emails, phone calls, visiting people, attending meetings and functions. The role of elder requires the flexibility and time to invest in these things. It is because of the primary focus of being involved in the life of local MC’s that Elders have the option to opt-out of these movement meetings but can attend at any time to provide their input.