Anthem Ventura is part a family of churches helping people find their way back to God. The Anthem family of churches is united around shared mission, vision, values, and submission to the Lordship of King Jesus. In our cities, we are working to obey Jesus in helping people find their way back to God.
We've got an exciting Sunday ahead
On Sunday, October 27, we will be presenting our Elders-In-Training to our church family. This will be a huge moment in the life of our church, and to prepare us well for the day, this is a bit of a primer of Anthem Church's application of leadership in the church from Scripture, a bit of our story, and what to expect this week and beyond.
The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is the Head of the Church.
That's a good place to start.
 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,  which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (ESV)
 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (ESV)
 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (ESV)
He is the One that we seek and follow as He continues the movement that He started 2,000 years ago through His perfect life, substitutionary death and victorious resurrection. After He ascended into heaven, He gave us His Spirit and established His Church to be led by elders.
It’s His church, and he’s our Senior Pastor. Underneath the guidance of Jesus are leaders who follow Jesus and encourage others to follow him as well.
At Anthem Church, our formal leadership structure, under Jesus, involves elders, staff, and members. A quick note on each:
We believe Scripture teaches that God gives Elders to his church to lead, shepherd, guard doctrine, and help equip the saints.
We believe Scripture calls a group of men to be the Pastor/Elders of the local church. Anthem Church is an elder-led church that submits to the authority of the Bible. Scripture uses three words interchangeably to refer to the function of one and the same person:
Presbuteros → Elder (executes God’s justice and government and administrates the affairs of the church) (Acts 20:17; Titus 1:5; 1 Peter 5:1-2).
Episcopos → Overseer or bishop (oversees, a guardian, gatekeeper or watchman) (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:1; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:1-2).
Poimain → Shepherd or pastor (shepherd the flock, nurture, and care for the flock, feed the flock) (Ephesian 4:11; 1 Peter 5:1-2).
Staff / Deacons
Aside from Elders, Deacons are the only other office mentioned in the scriptures in the local church. The Greek word for deacon is “diakonis” and means “servant, and who ministers alongside, ‘helper.”’ This does not mean that deacons are servants and do menial jobs. Everyone in the church should have a servant’s heart. What it does mean though, is that the deacons come alongside the elders, assisting them in the pastoring of the church, releasing them “to prayer and ministry of the Word.”
There’s isn’t a whole lot on Deacons in the bible - in fact, there are only two texts that highlight this office - leaving this role both academically underdeveloped and contextually open based on the needs of the church. Growing in our understanding and application of the biblical office will be a primary task of the newly formed Elder team in the months to come.
In the meantime, and in more familiar language, to fulfill all the tangible, practical, spiritual, and leadership needs of the church, the elders have a staff team that supports them in fulfilling the mission of Anthem Ventura.
Members of Anthem are a part of the formal leadership structure at Anthem. We believe the family is a family, and we all have roles and parts to play.
Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car. – GK Chesterson
When we look at the churches of the New Testament, we see a very clear understanding of who the church was. Paul writes to the Corinthians about “outsiders” who are a part of their gatherings (1 Cor 14:24). The membership of the local church was an understood reality in the early church. Paul describes the churches in Ephesus and Rome as “members one of another” (Rom 12:5, Eph 4:25).
Church membership is less about belonging to the local non-profit organization, and more about belonging to the “one anothers” of the church. To become a member of the body of Christ is first to become a believer in Jesus, and second, to take responsibility for the community of God that is expressed in your local context (your local church).
As we are presenting and moving forward with eldership, we are also seeking to revitalize our membership at Anthem.
For some, this is a scary word, because membership has all sorts of wacky connotations and baggage in our time and place.
There’s a lot to be understood about biblical membership, but for now, please consider this short definition of biblical membership:
Biblical Membership is a formal relationship between a local church and a Christian, where the local church takes specific responsibility for the Christian, and the Christian takes specific responsibility for their local church.
Think of this as a DTR. For many in our church, its simply stating what is already taking place. For others, this will be a step forward in committing to a church family.
When Anthem Ventura launched four years, we launched with Bert & Sherry Alcorn at the helm, and Kevin & Vanessa Marsden graciously gave 18 months alongside us to support us and shoulder the leadership as we got this new church off the ground. It’s been an amazing and adventurous four years together as a church, and we’re so grateful for all Jesus has done with and through our church.
It’s been amazing to have a team of Community Group leaders, staff, and the Elder teams from Anthem Thousand Oaks & Anthem Camarillo supporting us as we have grown and matured as a church. We’ve always known that a team of Elders would emerge from our church as we pursued and obeyed Jesus together, and we’ve known that would take some time.
This is a crucial move toward maturity as a church that shouldn’t be rushed. As Jesus has been building his church, we’ve eagerly tried to follow him in what he’s doing, and establishing a team of Elders from within is something we’ve been praying about for many years.
Since we currently do not have an Elder team, for whom the responsibility of selecting, developing, training, and presenting new Elders-In-Training would normally fall, Bert and Sherry Alcorn as the founding missionaries, in close concert with the Anthem Family of Churches Elders, have functioned apostolically in this new church, to select and appoint Elders-In-Training. “In the New Testament cases of initial elder appointment, the apostles or an apostolic delegation initiated and supervised the appointment process (See Acts 6: 1-6; 14: 24; Titus 1: 5).”
So, what’s going to happen this Sunday?
We are doing a few things this Sunday:
#1 Bert will be teaching on biblical leadership and how that shapes our church today.
#2 We will be presenting our Elders-In-Training, opening up a season of examination for the body.
#3 We will be encouraging all existing members to re-affirm their membership, and inviting all those who call Anthem home to become members.
A few notes on each:
Teaching on Church Leadership
Many have differing views, weighty baggage, common misunderstandings, or have experienced bad practices and applications around church leadership. Our hope for Sunday is to bring clarity from Scripture about how Jesus wants his church setup. As Paul says to Titus, our hope is to “put what remains in order” (Titus 1:5). While we cannot possibly answer every question, we hope to lay a good foundation and create a space for conversation for the future.
By God’s grace, we are going to be presenting our first team of Elders-In-Training on October 27 to potentially form the Elder team of Anthem Ventura. We say potentially on purpose. Even though Anthem Ventura is not a “voting” church, we believe input and voice from the church body are crucial in moments like these. So rather than voting, we want the body to affirm.
These Elders-In-Training have been going through a development process for the 10 months, where we have explored the biblical requirements for elders primarily found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Peter 5:1-4; we’ve delved into one another's character, home life, work-life, etc.; we’ve talked about what it looks like to be a shepherd and to sacrificially love the church the Lord has called them to; we’ve looked at the weightiness and high calling of this role.
Each Elder-In-Training feels a call to be an Elder at Anthem Ventura, have been affirmed by Bert and Sherry and our development team, and are now being brought to the family for one of the final pieces in our development process.
Since we are not a “voting church”, you may be asking why bother presenting them? We are presenting them for three primary reasons:
#1 To honor and celebrate these families who are saying YES to this call and burden. Those who are being presented are committing to serving, loving, shepherding, counseling, defending, and helping lead Anthem as a team of elders.
#2 To allow the body to examine these families. After the presentation, there will be approx. 2 months for the body to “examine” these families. This is not the moment for nitpicking. This is the moment to get to know those you don’t know as well, to ask thoughtful questions, to hear their story and let them hear yours.
#3 To allow the body to bring any questions, comments, or concerns to Bert & Sherry about these families. While we would not be presenting these families without a great deal of conference in their character, calling, competency, and chemistry, we do want to create space for anyone in the body to bring questions, comments, and concerns to us to consider before we install these Elders-In-Training. During this time if you believe that one of the potential elders presented is biblically unqualified to be an elder, it is your responsibility to bring it to their and our attention.
You play an important role in this process. As you are affirming these families you are committing to submitting to the elder team which they will now be a part of (Hebrews 13:17).
"Although the elders are to take the lead in all church procedures, this does not mean that the congregation is passive. Biblical elders want an informed, involved congregation. Biblical elders eagerly desire to listen to, consult with, and seek the wisdom of their fellow believers. The prospective elder or deacon will serve the congregation, so the people must have a voice in examining and approving their prospective elders and deacons." – Alexander Strauch
So if you call Anthem your home, make a point to be there on October 27 to meet the Elders-In-Training and their families!
Re-affirming and Inviting Membership
As we are asking the body to affirm our Elders-In-Training, we want to bring clarity to who the body is. Because of our transient culture, the answer cannot possibly be anyone who shows up on a Sunday, so, who is a member? Two key texts inform this idea:
1 Peter 5:1–2
 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:  shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly (ESV)
Notice the two times Peter says among you. Meaning, there is a group of people who are known to the leaders, and the leaders are known to them.
 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (ESV)
While the focus is usually thrown on the first half of that first because we all bristle at words like “obey” and “submit”, consider the back half, which to us, as leaders, is quite a bit more terrifying: “they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.” Those in leadership, in the local church, must give an account to Jesus for those they lead.
I believe Jesus isn’t setting us up for failure: that anyone who comes into proximity with us is one for whom we have to give an account. I believe he’s setting us up for something better: those with whom you are in a committed, sacrificial relationship with, who trust you and whom you trust, you are responsible for them, because I have entrusted them to you!
So as we as a church establish our first eldership team, we are asking for clarity for who the “we” is.
To learn more about membership with Anthem, click here →
If you’ve made it this far, well done. This is beefy stuff, but it’s not the stuff we take lightly. I hope you see here the careful attention Scripture has for the church, and the love Jesus has for his church. As we move forward in these momentous areas as a church with humility, we are trusting Jesus when he says “I will build my church” (Matt 16:18).
We are so excited about what God is doing, and how he is continuing to build his church!
If Anthem is your home, please make it a high primary to be with us this Sunday!
- Bert & Sherry Alcorn