Church is not something we sit back and watch; it is something we are all part of. So as members of a local church we should all take responsibility for our life together as a church, hold each other to account and submit to each other. However, we also need decision-making structures and a clear sense of where overall responsibility lies.
Each church within the Emmanuel Bristol family of churches has its own team of elders which provides local oversight. In turn, some of these elders are part of the Steering Team that provides oversight and direction for the whole family of churches.
Legal responsibility for Emmanuel Bristol lies with the Trustees. The trustees comprises elders, non-elders and external members.
Members of the Steering Team are responsible to God for the care of His sheep, which means they need to be given authority to direct the life of the church.
But biblical leadership is servant-hearted, and that means that the Steering Team is not to lord it over others, but to care for them and build them up in Christ. That means taking time to understand the needs of the congregation; listen to their concerns and questions; be open to be challenged and corrected by them; and to carefully explain decisions that are made.
That is why the Steering Team doesn’t lead in isolation. In its decision-making it is accountable to the Trustees, guided by the Leadership Team and listens to the wisdom of the wider congregation.
Each of the Emmanuel Bristol churches has their own Leadership Team. Each Leadership Team is made up of members of Emmanuel who show the sort of godliness outlined in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and who have been asked by the Steering Team either to lead a Small Group or head up some other area of ministry.
The members of the Leadership Team serve as “guardians of unity.” As those who are on the frontline of Emmanuel’s ministry, their wisdom and insight is invaluable in representing the concerns of the wider church to the Steering Team. In turn, they have a key role in communicating the thinking and planning of the Steering Team to the wider church.
Our longing is that the Leadership Team would guard against any sort of gap growing between the Steering Team and the wider church family and that their work would mean that rather than a sense of “us” and “them” we would have a strong sense of “we.”