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Elder Q&A 2020 Recap

Elder Q&A 2020 Recap

On November 22, we hosted our second annual Elders Q&A. Our hope through an evening like this is to fulfill Peter’s words for all of us when he wrote to elders, “shepherd the flock of God that is among you” (1Pet. 1:2).

In that short command, Peter teaches us a few things about 

  • A church is more than just sheep, but a flock.
  • A local church does not belong to its leaders or even its members, but to God.
  • Elders shepherd as those who areamong the sheep.

We could go on. There are no less potent lines just before and after that short command. But this is already enough to set the stage for this recap post on our recent Elder Q&A. 

An elder Q&A is one way in which we intend to be among the flock. Of course, it’s not the only time we mean to engage questions. The Q&A is just an especially public version of what we hope to cultivate in the halls and over coffee. Read our invitation post for some more specifics on our aims and process heading into the event.



We collected a number of questions across a number of topics. Thank you for all of them. This year’s night was broken into three parts, gathering questions we received under three headers. 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)

Introductions and what we’ve seen God do in our church (9:38)

Life Together in Membership (19:20)

  • How can singles become better connected with the rest of the membership? (19:30)
  • How can twenty-somethings and young professionals connect with people their own age? (22:40)
  • How do the elders and pastors handle the circle of knowledge when addressing sin or counseling issues? (23:44)
  • Where can the women of Heritage go when they need counselling or spiritual advice, but would feel more comfortable getting that counsel from another woman? (28:30)

Gathered Worship (31:40)

  • How do we design our worship services at Heritage? (31:54)
  • Why are our worship elements irregular? (34:16)
  • Why do all the prayers have to be read in the services and sound prepared? Is that a good thing for us? (36:57)
  • Why is the livestream by request and what are our plans for the future? (42:26)
  • As believers, do we spend eternity in heaven or on earth in the city of New Jerusalem? (46:24)
  • What are the triggers for searching for a worship director? (50:23)
  • Will the livestream be available for those who are home sick? (52:39)

In the World, For the World (55:00)

  • Please share an update on our global outreach efforts and plans (55:18)
  • What is the status of our plans following last year’s holiday offering, “Warming Up Our Welcome”? (58:52)
  • What is the role of the church in politics? (1:02:15)
  • Advice from the elders on political and cultural engagement (1:07:16)
  • What is wokeness and what do we make of it? (1:12:37)
  • Closing prayer for thanksgiving (1:18:14)

As promised, if you submitted a question and we didn’t answer it at the Q&A, we’ll be in touch by the close of December with plans to answer your question by email or in person by the close of January. Of course, as questions come to mind across the year, you can always just email us at [email protected]. For more material of this sort, review our recap from the 2019 Elder Q&A.

Now Taking Questions for our Second Annual Elders Q&A

Now Taking Questions for our Second Annual Elders Q&A

Shepherds are part of God’s plan for the health and mission of every local church. Just consider all that God intends to accomplish through this role:  

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. —Ephesians 4:11–16

Christ is the goal and substance of our life as a church. Shepherds and teachers, which refers to one role, are part of how Christ gets this done.

Why Is This Good for Us?

One way our elders at Heritage seek to lead our church to maturity in Christ is by the simple work of answering questions. We do this in informal and private ways, and we do this in especially public ways such as our annual Elders Q&A. On November 22 at 4:30 p.m. we will host our second annual Elders Q&A.  

This event serves a number of interlocking purposes:  

  • To promote a culture of openness and vulnerability.
  • To model healthy question asking and answering.
  • To enhance our elders’ unity and insight into the ministry.
  • To clarify any ambiguities or gaps in our leadership for our members.
  • To instruct in biblical eldership and increase the visibility for our team.
  • To update the congregation on any timely projects or studies we’ve been working on.

We’ll plan for an hour and fifteen minutes. We won’t share dinner, as is our tradition at these meetings, due to COVID, but we’ll certainly bring that back next time around.

What’s On Your Mind?

If you have a question—think doctrine, church life, plans for our shared mission, etc.—you can get it to us in a variety of ways:  

  • Text. Text your question to 864.735.7465.
  • Email. Email your question to [email protected]
  • Write. Grab a Connection Card on Sunday, scratch out your question, and drop that in an offering box.
  • Form. Submit a question here.
  • Tell. Communicate your question for the Q&A to an elder in person or through email. They’ll ask you to write it down so that we don’t lose your intent in translation, but you’re welcome to start with a conversation.
  • Show Up. Show up with your question on November 22nd. The elders will take some questions from a mic during the evening.

As a help in this process, aim to submit your questions by Sunday, October 25. This lead time helps us notice recurring themes, know how to devote time to particular questions, discuss any topics as a team if needed, and order our time in a way that best serves the congregation. We’ll certainly consider any questions that come in after that date.

As a reminder, we won’t be able to answer every question that gets asked. However, if you put your name on a question and we did not answer it at the Q&A, we will reach out to answer that question for you in person or by email. In some cases, we may devote a blog-post to the topic.

Before the Q&A, get acquainted with Heritage’s elders at the About Page. Also, here’s the recap of last years Q&A for those that couldn’t join us.

Elder Q&A 2020 Recap

Elder Q&A 2019 Recap

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 [email protected].