Church of the City is led and governed by a board of Elders. By relying on consensual agreement of the Elders selected from the congregation, the church creates healthy checks-and-balances of leadership direction, financial accountability, spiritual guidance, and ministry implementation.
Pete Benson (Chairman)
Darren Whitehead (Senior Pastor)
The Elders provide spiritual oversight, direction, and leadership for the overall church, entrusting the implementation of that direction to ministry leaders and staff, under the leadership of Senior Pastor Darren Whitehead. Senior staff leadership is held accountable for fulfilling the Elder board’s direction. This system of organizational leadership, known as Policy Governance, allows the Elders to focus their gifts and time on their biblical mandate to lead and shepherd the church, while allowing ministry leaders (staff) the opportunity to maximize their gifts and talents as they lead their ministries and make practical decisions on how to implement and carry out the direction provided by the Elders.
The Elders, who serve as representatives of the church, are nominated by the church Stakeholders and undergo a prayerful screening, interview, and approval process. Approved candidates are then presented to those who call Church of the City their church home, who have a 14-day opportunity to express any concerns directly to a nominated Elder candidate, utilizing the principles for conflict resolution that Jesus taught in Matthew 18. Once approved, Elders serve a four-year term. Elders are not paid staff; they serve as volunteers. The completed Elder board consists of 8 Elders plus the senior pastor (Darren Whitehead) who provides a key link between the Elder board and the staff. Each member of the Elder board has equal voice to the system of consensual agreement on the team.
The tasks and responsibilities of the Elders vary greatly and require discernment as the board strives to keep the church on its biblical course. The Elder board tackles key issues facing the church. These include:
- Determining the overall vision and future direction of the church.
- Creating policies to define clearly church values and biblical operating procedures.
- Ensuring the church’s teachings and practices reflect accurate biblical theology.
- Providing avenues for pastoral care, conflict resolution, discipline, and restoration.
- Providing direction on financial or risk-management issues.
- Providing accountability to the senior pastor, to ensure the vision and values determined by the Elders are being carried out.
If you are a Stakeholder and feel prompted to nominate a congregant for the Elder role, please review the following resources:
- Read the overview of the elder qualifications below.
- Speak to the potential nominee before you submit his nomination.
- Contact an existing Elder in person or through email.
Church of the City Elders are nominated by the congregation and undergo a robust screening and interview process before they are eligible for election to the Elder Board. Accepting the volunteer role of Elder is not something to be taken lightly; Elders make extensive time commitments and take on deep spiritual responsibility in leading Church of the City, and we are grateful for their selfless service on our behalf.
- Elders cannot be nominated by himself or wife.
- Elders must be a Stakeholder.
- Must be known and approved for consideration by a current member of the Elder Board.
- Must have capacity, flexibility and availability to serve in the Elder role. The time requirement varies greatly month to month, but the minimum includes monthly meetings and committee responsibilities.
- Elders’ meeting—one evening per month.
- Four to six hours (on average) per month for review of Elder board materials, policies, correspondence, meeting preparation, and team conference calls.
- In addition to the regular Elders’ meeting, committee responsibilities may require additional hours each month, depending on the committee’s requirements.
- If serious issues arise that require immediate attention by the Elder board, additional hours may be required outside of regular Elders’ meetings.
Scripture verses that address the role of an Elder:
At Church of the City, our Elders:
- Carry the ultimate responsibility and authority to see that the church remains on a true biblical course; that its Stakeholders and attendees are being appropriately shepherded, that the body is being fed through insightful and accurate biblical teaching, and that the life of the church is being well managed with the assistance of competent and godly leaders.
- Guard the body of Christ against harmful influences, confronting those who are contradicting biblical truth or continuing in a pattern of sinful behavior.
- Shepherd the church by being an example and role model.
- Care about the spiritual and physical well being of members; pray regularly for the sick.
- Oversee each of the churches in Franklin, Downtown, and Spring Hill.
The Elders of Church of the City are responsible for the following, but may delegate to other qualified people in the body so these duties are carried out effectively.
Provide Spiritual Oversight
- Confront false teaching and behavior contradictory to biblical truth and implement appropriate church discipline
- Maintain the administration of Baptism and Communion as instituted by Christ
- Review and evaluate teaching and curricula for biblical accuracy and consistency with COTC Vision, Mission and Pursuits.
- Implement and monitor compliance with board policy
- Mandate ministry to the poor and distressed
Shepherd the Flock
- Participate (as needed) in the biblical process of conflict resolution outlined by Jesus in Matthew 18
- Direct people into appropriate processes for guidance, assistance, and problem resolution
- Respond to letters/phone calls from the church body, staff, or public
Manage the Church
- Affirm the annual Church of the City budget
- Encourage the senior pastor, his staff, and volunteers
- Conduct annual review of the senior pastor
- Delegate to qualified assistants, staff, and/or outside experts as needed
Pray for the Sick
- Affirm the work of the Prayer Team
- In special circumstances, visit attendees who are sick (at home or in the hospital) for private counsel
The spiritual gifts of discernment, wisdom, and leadership are considered foundational gifts for those who serve as Elders; however, the presence of other gifts such as teaching, administration, encouragement, and mercy greatly enhance Elder functioning.
1 – Discernment
The gift of discernment is the divine enablement to distinguish between truth and error. It is the ability to discern the spirits, differentiating between good and evil, right and wrong. Scripture references are: 1 Corinthians 12:10; Acts 5:1–4; and Matthew 16:21–23.
People with this gift:
- Distinguish truth from error, right from wrong, pure motives from impure motives.
- Identify deception in others with accuracy and in an appropriate manner.
- Determine whether a word attributed to God is authentic.
- Recognize inconsistencies in a teaching, prophetic message, or interpretation.
- Can sense the presence of evil.
2 – Wisdom
The gift of wisdom is the divine enablement to apply spiritual truths effectively to meet needs in specific situations. Scripture references are: 1 Corinthians 12:8; James 3:13–18; 1 Corinthians 2:3–14; and Jeremiah 9:23–24.
People with this gift:
- Focus on the unseen consequences in determining what next steps to take.
- Receive an understanding of what is necessary to meet the needs of the body.
- Provide divinely guided or given solutions in the midst of conflict and confusion.
- Hear the Spirit provide direction for God’s best in a given situation.
- Apply spiritual truth in specific and practical ways.
3 – Leadership
The gift of leadership is the divine enablement to envision the future of the church coupled with a humble heart to serve others. Scripture references are: Genesis 12:1; Isaiah 43:18–19; Matthew 7:7; Matthew 20:25–28; Luke 22:27; John 10:3–4, 11; I Corinthians 2:9–13; and James 1:5.
People with this gift:
- Are servants by nature; eager to see the church prevail in the world.
- Demonstrate spiritual foresight that anticipates the work of God.
- Allow Scripture and prayer to inform their decision-making process.
- Impart vision to others using clear communication.
- Can assess significant past events and their potential for impact on the present and future.
- Are able to think creatively and apply ideas and concepts in new ways.
- Desire accountability in fulfilling their responsibilities and meeting the needs of those they serve.
4 – Teaching
The gift of teaching is the divine enablement to understand, clearly explain, and apply the Word of God, causing greater Christ-likeness in the lives of listeners. Scripture references are: Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28–29; Acts 18: 24–28; and 2 Timothy 2:2.
People with this gift:
- Communicate biblical truth that inspires greater obedience to the Word.
- Challenge listeners simply and practically with the truths of Scripture.
- Present the whole counsel of God for maximum life change.
- Give attention to detail and accuracy.
- Are committed to consistent personal time of biblical study and reflection.