We have a de-centered leadership model. It means there’s no Senior Pastor, basically. Which we know is a little weird when you compare it to most American churches today. We’re okay with that. Why? Because after careful study of the Bible (Ephesians 4, Acts 15, 1 Timothy 5, and 1 Corinthians 12) we can see that this is God’s design for the church. It’s less efficient, but God values participation over efficiency, and a humble heart over individual exaltation. We are convinced that an elder-led model is both biblical and helpful for creating a team of humble servants who possess a diversity of giftings that will mold The Refuge into a community that is fully empowered to follow the leadership of Jesus, who is the true head of the church.
Our elders are diverse but are all equal and submitted to Jesus’s leadership, and to one another. They have exhibited growth and maturity that is affirmed by the Holy Spirit, the other elders, and recognized to be in keeping with the qualifications for leadership in the church (1 Timothy & Titus). Their primary responsibility is to collectively shepherd the people of God. Following the model Paul left us for structuring the church, fosters a level of accountability for everyone that has otherwise been non-existent at the highest levels of Christian “leadership.”
For more on the origin of elders, see: Christian Elders in the New Testament