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Who Are The Elders?

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Have you ever pondered as to why some local churches are governed in a democratic fashion while others are lead by elders/overseers? I think about this often because I have a passion for re-imagining church. In other words, I desire to see the local church mirror the biblical picture of how God established and commissioned the believers in the New Testament. Because I am also privileged to serve believers in a leadership capacity, my desire is to first honor God, then those whom I am entrusted to.

Therefore, i find it important to share these ideas on leadership and the blueprints I see in scripture regarding elders. Elders are the leaders of the church who in the Bible are called pastors, bishops, and overseers (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 5:2). The elders are men chosen for their ministry according to clear biblical requirements (1 Timothy 2:11-3:7; Titus 1:5-9). The elders are always spoken of in plurality because God intends for more than one man to lead and rule over the church as a safeguard for both the church and the man. The elders’ duties include ruling (1 Timothy 5:17), (1 Timothy 3:4-5), (1 Peter 5:2-5), (Hebrews 13:17, (Acts 20:28), (Ephesians 4:11), (Titus 1:9), (Matthew 18:15-17).

In light of these references, the local body of believers are to be governed by elders. In addition, the lack of references to congregation/member governed churches gives evidence that the bible does not call for the church to be run by the members in a democratic fashion. Instead, it clearly teaches that the elders are the directors, managers, overseers, [insert your preferred term] of the Church (1 Timothy 3:1-7, 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:7-9; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Acts 20:17-38). This does not mean that the elders shouldn’t seek the input of the members when making decisions for the church. Elders should desire to be as open as possible with the members of the church, and seek as much input as possible from the members in order to make decisions that reflect the conscience, first of God and second of the membership of the body. Elders should lead in humility and with godly motives. They should always be open to brotherly and sisterly discussion, criticism (constructive, that is) and/or advice, as long as it is done so in love.

So what are your thoughts on church leadership?

How do these ideas look different when mirrored with the body of believers to whom you belong?

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Categories: Church Issues
  1. Fr Jason Vidrine
    June 19, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Great question!

    Paul, Timothy and Titus mention three levels of governance…in the Greek:
    Episcopoi (literally Overseers)
    Presbyteroi (literally Elders)
    Diaconoi. (litterally Servants)

    Alex Jones asked a similar question:

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