biblical eldership

As a South Georgia boy I was ‘reared’ to know who was and who was not the ‘anointed of God’. In basic terms, I grew up listening to pastors in pulpits teach that God calls a man and that HE is the authority in the local church to guide, lead and direct all who may enter the doors and folds of the congregation.

I can agree partly with this train of thought. God DOES call some to preach and teach the Word and care for the flock while sharpening those around him. As for the Biblical basis for the lead pastor or Sr. pastor to be the king of the whole ride, I think that goes a little too far.

Listen for just a minute before you begin to cast your stones. (I am trying to grow my rock collection, so bring em :)) In no way am I trying to under value the role of a pastor, but I feel that most churches are just not on the ball when it comes to the correct interpretation of scripture in regards to elders. First, an elder is someone who teaches the Word of God (2 Tim 2:4) to others and is concerned with the oversight and direction of the SPIRITUAL health of the believers in His care. There is no distinction between a pastor and an elder in scripture and there should be no distinction in the church today. Pastor is a title reserved for those that are ‘recognized’ as elders and awarded that responsibility by a group of believers.

Mark Dever

gives a great explanation of this in his booklet “By Whose Authority?” He states, “The authority elders accrue is to come through their ministry in the congregation, and particularly through their teaching and explaining of the Word.” He continues, “I am recognized as an elder by virtue of my call as the senior pastor of the church. The title (and role) of pastor is reserved for those whom the congregation recognizes as an elder.”

Swimming Upstream dvd Second, an elder is someone who shepherds. An overseer must oversee, if not, he’s just a figure-head. An elder board should function with great care, patience and understanding with the congregation. They should constantly guide, coach and exhort those in their care to live as God calls us to live and when they realize that someone is falling out of the will of God into sin, an elder is required by scripture to attempt to restore that person through the process of church discipline.

Most church leaders hear that phrase about discipline and shrug it off. This cannot happen. If the body is to be Body of Christ, it must be healthy. What good is a ‘church’ that functions as a club of Christians and plays with worship toward God? These are foundational problems with the church of America as we ‘say’ we want to reach our community and our world for Christ, we show them another Gospel than the one Christ left for us to give. Most of the time it is in the name of ‘seeking’ and ‘saving’ but falls way short of truth.

More emphasis needs to be put on the recognition, calling and appointment of elders in the church today. We must be sure we use the Word to base our requirements for elders and realize that the spiritual health of the body is their primary concern after teaching, which instills, promotes and checks health.

Later in this series we will discuss the exact roles of elders and how they function in plurality.

Staying Stupid…

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What do you Think?