The New Testament model is for each local church to be led by a team of pastoral elders with no sole senior or lead pastor. (I’ve written quite a bit about this; if you’re interested, you could start reading here.) From time to time, people ask me for examples of such elder-led churches. The following list is a tiny sample of churches with a biblical eldership. For the most part, these are simply churches I’ve happened to run across online. To my knowledge, all these churches are evangelical Christian churches who enjoy shared pastoral leadership with no sole designated senior leader (other than Christ himself). I can’t otherwise endorse every church here. They run the gamut theologically. If you know of a church that could be added to this list (solidly evangelical and led by elders with no sole senior/lead pastor), add a comment and let me know.
Faith Christian Community
New Covenant Bible Fellowship
Lake Valley Community Church
Midtown Baptist Church
Valley Bible Fellowship
Hillview Bible Chapel
Peninsula Bible Church Cupertino
Oceanside Christian Fellowship
Calvary Bible Chapel
Fullerton / La Mirada
Grace Evangelical Free Church
Gerber Bible Fellowship
Community Bible Chapel
Sun Valley Bible Chapel
Valley Bible Church
Milpitas Bible Fellowship
New Covenant Christian Fellowship
Vintage Grace Communities
Peninsula Bible Church
Valley Bible Church
Rancho Palos Verdes
South Bay Evangelical Christian Church
Rohnert Park Bible Church
Mission Valley Community Chapel
The Resolved Church
Grace Bible Chapel
Peninsula Bible Church Willow Glen
Fairhaven Bible Chapel
Soma Church Community
South Lake Tahoe
Sierra Community Church
Redeemer Bible Church
Littleton Bible Chapel
River of Life Christian Fellowship
New Heart Bible Fellowship
Atlanta Reformation Fellowship
Kihei Baptist Chapel
Cole Community Church
Assyrian Christian Church
Life on the Vine
Clifton Baptist Church
The Chapel at Somerset
Heritage Bible Chapel
Sovereign Grace Chapel
Dunning Park Bible Chapel
Sovereign Grace Church
The Heights Church
Grace Bible Church
Harvest Evangelical Free Church
Cornerstone Baptist Church
Fenton Crossing Bible Chapel
The Summit Church
The Gate Church
Bitterroot Harvest Community Church
First Street Bible Church
Victory Road Evangelical Free Church
Christ the King Church
Heritage Christian Fellowship
Clarkson Community Church
Fountain of Life Christian Church
Clay Jars Christian Fellowship
Crossroads Bible Fellowship
Messiah Baptist Church
Grace Covenant Church
Patterson Park Church
NewLife Community Church
Faith Bible Church
Fresno Bible Church
Tulsa Christian Fellowship
Spring Mountain Bible Church
Willamette Bible Chapel
Clear Creek Church
Clinton Street Bible Chapel
Pillar Bible Fellowship
Oregon City Bible Chapel
Grace Bible Fellowship
Greenville / Piedmont / Simpsonville / Spartanburg / Anderson
Grace Bible Church
First Baptist Church
Church in the Valley
New Life Baptist Church
Household of Faith
Community Bible Chapel
Covenant Church of Spring
Grace Family Baptist Church
Reston Bible Church
Bethany Place Baptist Church
Valley Bible Church
Chippewa Valley Bible Church
Rincón Beach Church
New Life Bible Chapel
Crossroads International Church
43 thoughts on “Elder-led churches”
Thanks, Brent. Looks great. I’ve added you guys to the list.
I have attended several plural elder led churches over the years in California. Most of them are “Plymouth Brethren” affiliated, at least initially. Among them are Rohnert Park Bible Church in Rohnert Park, Fairhaven Bible Chapel in San Leandro, Sun Valley Bible Chapel in Lafayette, Gerber Bible Fellowship in Gerber. There is a directory of pb assemblies in the usa on the internet.
Thanks, Dayle. I’ve added these churches plus a few others. Many of the Brethren assemblies wonderfully exemplify pastoral leadership by a plurality of elders.
Our church has recently become elder-led, and without any one pastor holding the title of “Senior Pastor.” We have adopted bylaws accordingly and are loving the new (non-repressive) structure. The church is located in Hamilton, Montana and is called Bitterroot Harvest Community Church. http://www.bitterrootharvest.com Thanks so much for this blog! It was instrumental in implementing a much-needed change in our church!
Thanks for the link. Looks great! I’ve added you guys to the list. And thank you for the encouragement. I’m so glad the blog was a help to your church. That’s what it’s all about!
We have had an elder lead church in Melbourne FL. For 10 years. It has truly worked so well. There are 3 elders each one accountable to God and to each other.it has been a blessing.
That’s wonderful to hear, Betty. What’s the name of your church? I’d love to add it to my list.
I was introduced to this style of church in Garland Texas called Household of Faith. They have biblical eldership and an open meeting with a slight charismatic vibe.
Thanks for the link, Rob. I’ve added HoF to the list.
In Lansing, MI – Riverview Church (www.rivchurch.com).
Chatham Christian Assembly, listed in North Carolina, no longer exists.
Looks great, Dave. Thanks for the link! And thank you too, Geoff. I’ve edited the list.
Community Bible Church of Williamstown, MA is elder-led.
Please advise name, address,& email of Melbourne Church , as my husband & I would like to visit.
Thanks for your assistance in this matter.
Hi, Margaret. I haven’t personally researched churches in Melbourne, so I don’t know of any that are elder-led. (The churches on this list are just churches I have run across or churches others have recommended as elder-led churches.) I’d suggest exploring some of the websites of churches in Melbourne. If you find any that are elder-led, let me know and I’ll add them to this list!
Clinton St. Bible Chapel in Gresham, Oregon
Thanks, Dustin. I’ve added the link.
The Resolved Church may be plural elder on paper but is in fact run by its lead pastor, Duane Smets.
I’m sorry to hear that. It’s all too easy to slip back into having one dominant leader, even while having biblical terminology.
Joe Hellerman at Oceanside is also a professor of Greek and early church history at Biola University. He also wrote a book called “When the Church was a Family: Recapturing Jesus’ Vision for Authentic Christian Community” in which he discussed the Biblical support for leadership by a plurality of, equal parity, elders.
And don’t forget to add https://orchardefc.org
OCF is listed above (under El Segundo), but I didn’t know about Joe Hellerman’s book. Sounds intriguing. I’ll have to check it out.
We’re committed to the biblical principle of leadership by a team of pastoral elders (and the church where I served previously was led this way), but at this point in our replanting process, our team of pastoral elders is a team of one (me)! I’m not going to add us to this list until we’re actually functioning with at least one other pastor/elder.
Thanks for the comments, and for the book recommendation!
Hellerman recently put on a conference in Littleton, CO in conjunction with BER. They have made all the conference materials available online for free (worksheets, notes, slides, and video). The conference was a condensed study of the book. It was very good. You can access it from the BER website at https://biblicaleldership.com/2017-church-as-family/
Good to know, Todd. Thanks!
Faith Christian Community, Anchorage Alaska
I added you guys to the list. Thanks, Steve!
Please add to your list for Oregon, Pillar Bible Fellowship in the Hood River area. The church is led by a plurality of elders and preach expository sermons.
I added Pillar Bible Fellowship. Thanks, Nathan!
You can add Kihei Baptist Chapel on Maui, Hawaii to this list
Excellent. I’ve added you to the list. Thanks, Jay!
I added LifePoint to the list. Thanks, Jon!
Dunning Park Bible Chapel in Redford. MI, an open Plymouth Brethren assembly. Dunningpark.org
I’ve added Dunning Park Bible Chapel to the list. Thanks, Heather!
Hi, the church I go to, Mission Valley Community Chapel, as in Evangelical, Bible believing assembly (Open Plymouth Brethren) in San Diego, California that is Elder lead. From our website-
All leadership is volunteer, enabling the majority of our giving to go to worldwide missions. There are opportunities to serve for those interested in participating, including outreach, hospitality, and music.
Hi, Paul. Thanks for the info. I’ve added you folks to the list!
Curt, Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, CA is solidly elder led. I pastored there for 35 years and recently retired. I also wrote a book you can find on Amazon called, “Elders in the Local Church.”
Hi, Mark. Yes, I remember you and the elders at CPC very well. After I finished the pastoral intern program at PBC (in 2000), you guys and I spent some time considering my coming onboard there to pastor the small group ministry. You made another choice, which I think was absolutely the right one for CPC. Kelley and I went to Puerto Rico to lead in replanting an English-speaking church there, and that was the perfect ministry opportunity for us. I enjoyed and appreciate the interaction I had with the CPC elders, and respect the leadership of the church there very much. A criterion for this list, though, are churches that are led by a team of elders with no designated senior or lead pastor. (I note this specifically at the top of this page, and it’s something I address in a number of my posts on eldership.) I don’t think that quite fits the model at CPC, as I understand it. Congratulations on your retirement! And thanks for letting me know about your book. I’ll check it out!
Churches of Christ always have been led by elders, exactly as you describe. I am happy that so many are going to the Bible.
Hey brother! Feel free to add us to your list. Clay Jars Christian Fellowship, located in Rochester, NY.
We are best described as Reformed Baptist.
Hey, Stephen! I’ve added you guys to the list. Love your church name!