Churches live or die based on the quality of their leadership. That is why being an Elder is such an important calling (1 Timothy 3:1-7). A church needs Elders who hold fast to the truth and give instruction in sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).
As part of our process to select Elders at Watermark, we ask every candidate to answer 35 questions. We know that our Elders’ positions on these topics will have ripple effects in our body, city, and world for generations to come, so we carefully listen to every man as he articulates from God’s Word his understanding of the Spirit’s opinion on each of these issues.
Below is the full list of questions we ask Elder candidates. The questions touch on many of the culturally demanding, doctrine-shaping topics of our day. Answers should be well articulated, theologically sound, biblically supported, and 1-2 pages in length each. These questions help determine how an Elder will pastorally and theologically shepherd the flock.
- What is the purpose and calling of an Elder? What role and function does one have in the local church?
- What is the role and purpose of the Church? How do you measure its success?
- What is the gospel? How would you articulate the gospel to a non-believer?
- What is the Bible? How is it different from other religious texts? How should a Christian use the Bible?
- What is the Trinity?
- Who is Jesus? Discuss the significance of Jesus in detail. What is the hypostatic union? How is it significant?
- Who is the Holy Spirit? What role does the Holy Spirit play in the life of a believer? What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? What are spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, and how are they used?
- What is the doctrine of redemption? How do you reconcile man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty in the salvation of a believer?
- What is discipleship? How is it relevant to a believer, and how would you go about the process of discipleship?
- What is baptism? Who is it for? What does it do, mean, or symbolize? What is your view on infant baptism?
- What is your view of creation? How does your view compare to other views? How is a believer’s answer to this topic significant to their Christian life?
- What is your view on God’s plan for the nation of Israel? Has the Church replaced Israel?
- What is your eschatological view? How does your stance on this matter impact your theological views?
- What are three or four areas (orthodoxy) where Watermark disagrees with other major denominations (e.g., Methodist, Catholic, PCA, Lutheran, etc.)? What are three or four distinctives (orthopraxy) of Watermark that differ with other major denominations?
- Why do trials occur? What is the purpose of suffering?
- What role in leadership do you believe women should have within the church? In what context should they teach? Are there any restrictions?
- On what basis, if any, are divorce and remarriage allowable? Explain. Can a person who has been divorced be remarried? How do you interpret the “exception clause” found in the Gospel of Matthew? Can a man who has been divorced serve as an Elder?
- What is your understanding of God’s design for human sexuality? How does your understanding coincide with the present LGBTQ+ movement? How should believers act regarding this issue? How would you respond to the assertion that Christians today are on the “wrong side of history” when it comes to gay marriage?
- What is church membership? How would you support it biblically? What makes one a member of a church?
- What is biblical community? Should a church require it, and if so, why?
- What is biblical accountability? Are there any areas that are off-limits within an accountability relationship? Why or why not? Are there any topics that are off limit within your current community group?
- What is church discipline? How would you support it biblically? How should it be used within the body?
- What role does the Old Testament law play in the life of a believer today?
- How should a Christian think about politics? What is the framework a believer should use to decide who to support politically?
- What is the will of God? How can a believer discern God’s will in the day to day matters of life?
- Is it okay for believers to drink alcohol? What are “areas of conscience” and what does the Bible say about them? What are areas of conscience where you have decided to restrict yourself where Scripture allows for freedom? In other words, what are some personal convictions in your life?
- What happens to babies who die in infancy or early childhood? Do they go to heaven?
- What is a biblical view of monetary giving? Is tithing biblical? What is different between giving in the Old and New Testament? Do you have a personal framework for giving to the church versus giving to other ministries? What other philosophies about charitable giving do you hold that would be beneficial for us to understand?
- What does it mean to be pro-life? How would you counsel a couple or individual who was considering an abortion? How would you counsel a couple or individual who was considering adoption or foster care?
- Is it okay for believers to use contraception? Artificially inseminate? Freeze embryos? Why or why not?
- Is debt biblically allowable? Should Christians have debt? Are there different types of debt? What personal debt do you currently have? Who spoke into the decision to take on that debt and how did you get comfortable doing so?
- Should we be a place that is “confidential” or “safe”? What is the difference?
- What role should counseling have in the life of a believer? What should counseling look like and in which contexts should it occur? Should we ever recommend a licensed counselor?
- Are there any aspects of Watermark’s Seven Essentials or Full Doctrinal Statement that you either disagree with or lack a firm position on?
- Are there any beliefs, lifestyle, habits or history that would surprise the Elders or are inconsistent with their values?
These Questions Aren't Just for Elders
If you want something to do in your time with the Lord and/or your time with community, grab this list and get busy wrestling with what God and Scripture says about each of these issues. Spoiler alert: God’s thoughts are going to run contrary to the world’s and our flesh’s leanings (Proverbs 14:12). We pray your study and alignment with the Spirit’s leadership in each of these areas will lead to a closer relationship with Him.