The Role of “Elders” in the Church?

Posted by Angella Diehl, Webmaster on May 20, 2002 under Ask the Pastor | Be the First to Comment

This question came from someone in our church family recently. It was answered very well by pastor Tim Taylor.

Question: The Bible talks about “elders” in the church. Are these official positions in the church, or are they just people who are recognized as more mature members of a local church family? How do “elders” relate to other “appointed positions” in the church such as “pastors”?

Answer: According to the New Testament, there are two official positions of leadership in the church: elders and deacons. Elders are responsible for the overall spiritual, physical and financial welfare of the church (Acts 20:17-32: 1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Peter 5:1-5). The Scriptures previously mentioned also refer to elders as overseers and pastors/shepherds.

Bishops, elders and pastors are all synonymous. According to Dr. Dan Lockwood, President of Multnomah Bible College/Seminary, the each of these three titles describes an important yet, distinct aspect of being an elder. “Bishop” stresses the function of the administrative responsibility over the congregation. This is making sure financial offerings are spent wisely, bills are paid and the church building is maintained. “Elder” stresses the age and maturity of the office holder. This does not mean an elder must be a senior citizen. However, he must not be a new convert (1 Tim 3:6). New converts do not have the spiritual maturity to handle the position of elder. Elders must behave in a spiritually mature manner (1 Tim 2-7). “Pastor” stresses the gift of shepherding which is feeding and protecting the congregation.

Each church will have at least one elder who is the pastor. Some churches because of the large size of their congregation have more than one elder/pastor. Good Shepherd Community Church in Boring, Oregon, has three elders/pastors who handle most of the preaching, one elder/pastor who is the youth pastor and number of other elders who handle other areas, such as small group Bible studies. At Bethany Bible Church, Pastor Greg is an elder. Pastor Tim is also an elder.

Deacons fulfill those responsibilities given to them by the elders. Deacons must also behave in a spiritually mature manner (1 Tim 3:8-13).

Pastor Tim

(All Scripture quotes are taken from the New King James Version.)

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