In the Holy Scriptures, God revealed his plan for leadership in the church. He launched the church by giving certain individuals special spiritual gifts. They are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These believers, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, initiated the Christian movement and brought local churches into existence through their teaching and preaching of the gospel.

1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; Hebrews 13:17-18; Acts 6:1-6, 20:28; Ephesians 4:1-6, 11-12; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Psalm 78:72

As churches were established in the faith, elders were appointed to continue the pastor-teaching ministry in each local church. The elders were given responsibility for the oversight of that particular church body and the shepherding of its members.

As necessary, deacons were also appointed to serve the church, particularly by undertaking those areas of need that would otherwise prohibit the elders from performing their primary biblical responsibilities of prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:1-6).

Rooted in Scripture, Atlantic Shores Baptist Church is 

  • LED by a team of pastors
  • OPERATED by our staff
  • GOVERNED by a body of elders
  • SERVED by our deacons and lay ministry leaders

Our governance structure and decision-making process is designed to accomplish three things: 

  • Maximize MINISTRY
  • Minimize BUREAURACY

Elder Body

Constitutionally, the elder body at Shores is made up of the lead pastor, 2-4 additional pastors appointed by the lead pastor, the chairman of the deacons, and four active lay members of the congregation that are nominated by the church family. The lead pastor serves as the president of the elder body and, at the same time, is accountable to the executive committee of the elder body. The lay elders make up the executive committee. Together, the elders pray, maintain doctrinal purity, govern, teach, equip people for ministry, oversee the budgeting process, act as trustees of the non-profit corporation, confidentially review and advise on personnel matters, and maintain open communication. The elders are qualified to serve on the basis of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Legally, the elder body serves as the board of directors of Atlantic Shores Baptist Church, a Virginia non-profit corporation, and is granted authority to act on behalf of the church family. The lead pastor is the president of the board of directors.

What is a Lead Pastor?

The Lead Pastor at Shores is the visionary and primary teaching pastor of the church. He is responsible for the spiritual equipping and oversight of the entire congregation and serves as the president of the elder body. He is the spokesman for the elder body to the congregation and is directly accountable to the executive committee of the elder body for the carrying out of his duties in the church (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11-12; I Peter 5:2-4). Furthermore,

  • The Lead Pastor is the primary LEADER of the church (episkopos).
  • The Lead Pastor is the primary SPIRITUAL LEADER of the church (presbuteros).
  • The Lead Pastor is the primary SERVANT LEADER of the church (poimen).

It has been argued that James was a primary leader in the early church, a leader among leaders in the midst of a plurality of elders (Acts 12:17, 15:19ff, 21:18).


Deacons were appointed in the early church to serve the church, particularly in areas of need that would otherwise hinder the elders from performing their biblical responsibilities (Acts 6:1-7). At Atlantic Shores Baptist Church, deacons are lay leaders who serve the body in various capacities, including caring for families in need or in crisis. Deacons are selected and approved by the elder body. They are qualified on the basis of 1 Timothy 3:8-12.

Pastors and Vocational Personnel

God uses vocational personnel and lay leaders at Atlantic Shores to implement the work of His ministry at His church. We consider it a sacred trust for anyone to serve in a paid or volunteer capacity, and we set high standards for such service. Our goal is to create a healthy work, volunteer, and worship environment that builds up the body of Christ and that everyone can enjoy (Ephesians 4:1-6).

Vocational personnel include pastors, ministry directors, ministry coordinators, operations, and administration. All personnel matters come under the confidential review and advisement of the elder body. When it comes to human resources, the elders and personnel supervisors carefully follow biblical principles, state and federal laws where applicable, and best practices from other churches, business, and charitable organizations. Generally, we do not comment, publically or privately, on the departure of vocational personnel for the following reasons: (1) to protect the unity of the Spirit, (2) to protect each employee’s right to privacy, and (3) to protect the church legally. 

Lay Ministry Leaders

People from within the church family are called upon to serve on a variety of lay ministry teams. Most volunteer opportunities require you to be an active member of the church. Some volunteer opportunities require a confidential background check. We consider it a sacred trust to serve as a lay spiritual leader and, therefore, set high standards for such service. Go here for a list of lay ministry opportunities. Go here to learn more about membership at Shores. 

Decision-making and Voting in the Church

As a general rule we do not make decisions by calling a vote of the congregation. However, we do ask the active members of the church to vote when the following situations arise: (1) to call a new Lead Pastor, (2) to make a change in the church Constitution and By-laws, and (3) to approve the annual church budget.