The governance of Southside Bible Church is based on the New Testament norm in which there was plural leadership in each church through the appointment of elders rather than an elder/pastor who was the single leader (see, for example, Acts 14:23; 15:22; 20:17). We believe a plural leadership of co-equals provides a range of gifts, accountability, mutual support and encouragement, and greater effectiveness in church ministry.
In contrast, we believe that the "pastor-lay people" or "clergy-laity" divide has tended to create isolation and a hierarchy that has been to the detriment, spiritually, emotionally, and pragmatically, of both the pastor/clergy and the lay people/laity. Elders are not "over" other people but are simply fellow servants called by God and elected by the church to lead, to ensure things are done in a way that brings glory to the Father, to protect, to encourage, and to be agents of unity as all are being knitted together in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
An elder is called to oversee or shepherd, a function that includes keeping watch over the needs and direction of the church and church ministries and over the congregation. Elder Governance at Southside Bible Church means "elder-led," not "elder-rule," that is to say, the congregation plays a direct role in decision-making through congregational meetings. Thus, the form of governance can be summarized as "elder-led congregationalism."