Almond Valley Church uses a Presbyterian system of government or polity. Almond Valley is led by the Church Council which is currently composed of a team of seven elders and seven deacons and the lead pastor who is considered a "teaching elder." Our elders and deacons are selected by church members and are on rotating three-year terms. Almond Valley Church is also part of a regional group of churches which provide mutual accountability and support.
The Church Council is the regulatory body in our church; yet there is nothing absolute about its power and authority. Council members serve in subjection to Jesus Christ who is the Head of the Church. They exercise their office not so much by governing as by guiding and enabling and serving. Council members recognize that the church members themselves are office-bearers who hold the office of "believer" and who share in the anointing of Christ both individually and corporately (Exodus 19:6; Galatians 6:2; I Peter 2:5-10 and 4:10). So the Council will respect the mature judgment of the congregation and consult with the members on important issues. But that does not mean the church is a democracy.
The Council decides matters on behalf of the congregation; but they are responsible to Christ, the Head of the Church. Prayer is very important for the office-bearers. It is through prayer that their hearts are open to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and they expect the Spirit to give them discernment to see the needs of all church members.
Though elders, deacons, and pastors are ordained to different functions, they are equal "in dignity and honor." There is no place in our Council for a CEO, and our office-bearers work and decide issues collegially and by consensus whenever possible.
Elders are charged with directing the church and overseeing the preaching of the Word of God (I Timothy 5:17).
Elders are to instruct the people of God (Acts 6:2; Acts 20:28-31; Ephesians 4:12-13; I Timothy 3:2; I Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:9). They build up the church through sound biblical teaching and make certain that what is preached agrees with the Bible.
Elders are to be devoted to the ministry of prayer (Acts 6:4). They are available to pray for the sick and those in need (James 5:14).
Elders help take care of the members of our church (I Peter 5:2). Shepherds are servant-leaders who nurture the spiritual growth of the congregation, protect them, encourage them, and comfort them in times of distress and grief. As servant-leaders, the elders are to manage the membership of the church and reach out to those in need of special care or spiritual mentoring (Matthew 18: 15-20; I Corinthians 5:1-13).
Deacons oversee the finances of the church. They are responsible for helping those members in need, and for overseeing Almond Valley's ministries that serve our community and our world (I Timothy 3:8-13; Acts 6:2-3). Our deacons are called to assess needs, promote stewardship and hospitality, collect and disburse resources for benevolence, and develop programs of assistance. They are expected to speak words of Christian encouragement. In doing so, our deacons are demonstrating the care of the Lord Himself.