On November 24, we hosted our first annual Elders Q&A. You can read about our aims and process in our invitation post. We hope this evening encouraged you and strengthened our church. I’ll probably never forget the words of one sister after the evening closed, “I’m so glad I’m at Heritage!” I heartily concur.
For those who didn’t join us, this post will help you get caught up. After we opened the evening with an explanation of our aims and the format, we divided our time into four parts, gathering questions we received under four headers. Each segment was shaped by your questions, which at times involved additional questions for context and framing.
As promised, if you submitted a question and we didn’t answer it at the Q&A, we’ll be in touch before the close of January. We’ll answer it for you in some fashion, whether by email or in person.
Here’s a list of the questions we asked with the timestamps for the audio. Of course, we would encourage you to listen to the entire Q&A for context and the spirit of the evening.
Welcome and Introduction (0:00)
Questions on Biblical Eldership (8:52)
Panel: Steve Hall, Kevin Johnson, Kris Fraley, Barry Formanack, John Gardner
- When do elders meet and what’s a simple outline of what we do when we meet? (12:48)
- Who is in the room besides elders and what are they doing there? (14:50)
- How does somebody become an elder? What’s the process and what’s new about that process? (15:55)
- What is the difference between elders and deacons? (19:13)
- What is the chairman’s role and how does the chairman relate to the team? (19:57)
- How are decisions made at Heritage? How do these get divided up? Who makes the final decision? Is there an individual who gets the final say? Does the group decide everything? Speak to the agenda and how it’s formed, and decisions and how they’re made. (20:47)
- Do we have an overarching large scale plan, and if so, where are we on that plan? (25:38)
- All of you, what are some examples of changes the elders have led out on in the last, say, fifteen years? (27:13)
- Do we require unanimity in our votes? (29:43)
Questions on Doctrine (31:32)
Panel: Geof Ericson, Travis Fleshman, Abe Stratton
- Let’s say someone said, “What’s the big deal with doctrine? Church is about people! It’s about the mission!” What would you say? (33:18)
- Were Old Testaments saints saved by keeping the Law? (34:30)
- We’re in Genesis and God has made clear promises to Abraham. Sometimes it seems that the promises are unilateral, that God will do it no matter what. Sometimes it seems that God says, he will do it because Abraham was obedient. Which is it? Were the Abrahamic promises conditional or unconditional? (38:04)
- What is the doctrine of eternal subordination and is that something we’ll be taught here? (41:17)
Questions on Church Membership (46:52)
Panel: Abe Stratton, Sandy McCormick, Brad Hilgeman, Pete Hansen
- What is a church member? (49:51)
- We’re a congregational church led by elders. How is that different from an elder-rule church? (50:24)
- Why is it that the elders vote to accept people as new members instead of the entire membership voting on receiving them? (53:16)
- Why do we allow members to resign and therefore bypass the biblical church discipline model if they are in unrepentant sin? (54:12)
- I heard that the elders are studying the topic of baptism. Why? What are the questions you’re trying to answer? (56:52)
- On any given Sunday, approximately what percentage of the current congregation are members? (1:4:52)
- The congregation is now smaller than it used to be. Why has our congregation gotten smaller? And are you men encouraged or discouraged? (1:5:32)
- What can members do to support the eldership? (1:12:30)
- Some people leave because they are running from their own problems. Is there any way we communicate to other churches that have the same belief as us about the folks that are leaving? (1:13:55)
Questions on the Trellis (1:15:54)
Panel: Sandy McCormick, Brad Hilgeman, Abe Stratton, Pete Hansen, Nathan Gallion
- Where are we in our identification and pursuit of an unreached people group? And a quick update on Anna Gross? (1:16:50)
- Does HBC have a plan for serving young people who are newly out of college but not yet married, or married but without kids? This is an important time in their lives and the church could play a great role in loving and caring for them. We have done amazing things with the college students, but this age group seems to be neglected. (1:19:23)
- I would love to be a part of the worship team, and I believe that there are many talented people at HBC who would also like to take part. But one gets the feeling that it would not be permitted. (1:23:18)
- Is there a timetable to update the sanctuary, light fixtures, carpet, stage wings that don’t get used, and such? They are a little dated. Another person asked: We have beautiful new signage, and a beautiful lobby area. But when you step foot in our sanctuary, well—it just looks old and outdated! It would be great if we could seriously consider spending some money on updating. So, is there a timetable? (1hr 25:00)
- Why does Trent preach so long? (1:26:53)
- Closing prayer for thanksgiving (1:30:45)
Some have asked if we’ll be publishing a written version of our answers to these questions. We won’t be doing that, but not because it’s a bad idea, but because we value the in-person format. We want you to hear these answers from us—in our own informal words, in our voice, and in the context of our relationships and conversation.
But that doesn’t mean the Q&A is the end of questions and answers. Remember, this event is intended to be the most public expression of the kind of thing we hope goes on all the time, so keep the questions coming. In fact, some of our engagement with you in this event may have raised other questions you weren’t asking before, and you are welcome to approach an elder with those. As we always do, in many cases, your elder might point you to the elder best suited to answer your question for our team. Of course, you can always just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.