Pantano is a non-denominational church. We do not have, nor are we part of any larger denominational organization. But we are not without leadership, guidance, and oversight. Our church is overseen by a group of godly Elders. While you don’t often see them “up front” or on the stage, they are very invested, involved, and are serving in our church. The Bible gives clear qualifications and the roles for elders who oversee the church. These can be found in these scriptures: 1Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:28.
We currently have nine Elders, including me as the Lead Pastor. You can see the Elder’s names and pictures in the “About” section of our website at https://pantano.church/about/. Our Elders serve in 3-year terms after they have first completed a one year “probationary” term.
Potential Elders are considered after we have observed their life, their family, their service in the church, and most important of all, their character. This decision of who will serve as an Elder is never made quickly and is taken with utmost prayer, investigation, and consideration. The process of observing, selecting, preparing and affirming an Elder will actually take several years before one can be fully on-boarded.
Kerwin Dewberry is our newest Elder. He was recently affirmed by our current Eldership per our Bylaws. Kerwin completed a 29-question application (the same application we use for anyone asking to be ordained to ministry). Then, having passed two interviews and after his references were checked, he was invited to participate in a one-year elder preparation process. This development process included observing Elder’s meetings, studying the role and work of an Elder, and doing a deeper dive into our church’s values, beliefs, and organization. After a year of preparation, Kerwin was affirmed by the existing Elders who have been engaged and involved in his life.
Here’s how the Elders lead our church: They don’t get stuck in the details of the daily operation of the church. Rather, they “oversee” our church to ensure it is being faithful to Jesus and the Bible and moving toward our agreed vision and mission according to our values.
Let me be more specific. I realize not everyone wants to know these details, but I think it is important for you to know how our Elder Board is leading our church. The Elders lead by giving the Lead Pastor clear written guidelines in advance so that he knows where and how he can lead the staff and church, rather than react and approve. They give him the freedom to lead within those boundaries and hold him accountable for that. The Elders are a think tank for the vision and mission of our church. For example: the Lead Pastor creates a strategic plan or budget or develops programs and the Board evaluates them in terms of our vision and mission and makes sure that everything aligns with scripture. The Board is intentional in governing itself, which means it defines and enforces what is expected of members. The Board has one employee – the Lead Pastor. They support, hire, evaluate, terminate, and protect the Lead Pastor.
Almost two-thirds of a typical Elder meeting is spent sharing about the church and our lives as Elders as well as praying for each other and the church. The heart and focus of our Elders is to ensure that I, the Lead Pastor, am doing well and leading well so that our church is healthy and fulfilling the will of Jesus. I want you to know how blessed we are to have such a healthy, godly, and caring Eldership. A healthy Eldership results in a healthy church…every time!