More information about this initiative for training elders HERE.
“It’s hard to calculate the joy and strength that come through serving with godly men who are bent on shepherding a local church with you.
The work of “eldering” provides opportunities for both strengths and weaknesses to be exposed, and it’s been a great gift from God to have men in my life who have encouraged the former and help shore up the latter.
They’ve seen matters more clearly than I have at points, and as a result, have served both me and the church very well.
The fellowship of elders has been a great means of grace in both my life and the life of my family.”
(Photo: Murat Cokal)
“An elder is a pastor is a shepherd is an overseer is a teacher is a leader, and in many ways the unifying concept underlying the biblical material is that of guardian.
Our job, as elders, is to protect the church from harm – from danger, dispersal, division, drift, deviant doctrine, disobedience, destruction and ultimately the devil – while we wait for the day when Jesus returns, conquers the accuser, and takes his rightful place as the Shepherd to end all shepherds.
Until that day, we are called to be not just gatherers, growers and governors, but also guides, gospellers and guardians; not in mere pragmatism, professionalism or presentation, but in preaching, protection and prayer (and, obviously, alliteration).”
In Titus 1 we are told that elders are to encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. At the FIEC Leaders’ Conference yesterday, a great new resource was released to help elders with this task.
Primer is an 80 page kind of theological digest on one area of theology, published twice a year, and designed to help elders and those in church leadership stay theologically sharp and engaged.
The first issue is on the doctrine of Scripture, and is available to buy HERE.
Get a copy for each of your elders and start discussing – there is even a website PrimerHQ.com with questions to help you do that.
“The task of the elder is to pastor the pastor.
If they do not do it, nobody else will.
That means there will be times when the elder has to confront his pastor because he sees that his teaching, or his life, or maybe both, are starting to wander from the path of truth and godliness.
Whenever a pastor falls, one has to ask:
Where were the elders?
Sometimes, of course, the pastor can be good at hiding his faults; At other times, elders just turn a blind eye to peccadilloes, assuming that the pastor is a good chap and could not possibly be heading in a spiritually lethal direction…
If you are a pastor, cultivate a culture where your elders are comfortable speaking frankly to you, where they feel part of a team of equals and not a subordinate part of a rigid hierarchy.
And if you are an elder and you do not have the backbone to confront your pastor, then for his sake and for the sake of the church you need to resign and find another role in the church.”
(Photo: Ryan McGuire)
David Murray has produced a really helpful checklist for the duties of elders.
You can download it HERE.
I’ve tried to adapt what he and his elders have produced for their church setting for the one I’m in.
Ensure that every family in the church is visited over 12-18 month period.
Review the list of people in the church every week to identify specific needs and arrange to visit if needed.
Aim to know the spiritual state and condition of each individual.
Private prayer for every individual and family in the church.
Regular attendance at the weekly church prayer meeting.
Attend the fortnightly elders’ meetings.
Assist and advise fellow-elders in discussions and decisions.
Arrange for administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Administer church discipline.
Help with administration.
Watch the pastor with a view to encourage and/or correct; advise when they need to delegate responsibilities so they can give themselves more fully to the ministry of the Word and prayer.
Watch the congregation to see who is present/absent, active/passive, engaged/disengaged.
The elder should be growing in Christian knowledge and wisdom and teaching ability in order that they may be equipped to teach in area of special gifting.
Be on the look out for new families and individuals coming to church.
Offer hospitality to individuals/families/groups of families.
Be pro-active in the vision for future direction, role, and needs of the congregation.
Be pro-active in mission and evangelism.
Be pro-active in identifying, encouraging, training future leaders and service opportunities.
“He must be well thought of by outsiders” (1 Timothy 3:7)
“Who we elect to office [of elder]
communicates so much to the world about what the church and the Gospel is all about,
that it should be considered a major part of our evangelistic message to the world…
Electing elders is an evangelistic act.”
(Photo: Ryan McGuire)
“Choose those who are already “among” the flock, and the flock “among” them (1 Pet. 5: 2).
Moral, domestic, occupational, didactic qualifications being met, ask, “Does this man love the flock and is he beloved by them?”
Commitment to corporate prayer is often a litmus test.”
One of the tasks I’m working (or about to) is a programme for training up elders.
This website looks like it is going to be a really useful resource in helping me to do this.
Check out Biblical Eldership Resources HERE.
“The office of the elder is to keep the serpent out of the garden.
It is that simple.
And if you cannot stand the social stigma and cultural marginalisation that goes with the task – inevitably goes with the task, one might stress – that is OK; you simply need to step down from your position and do something for which you are better equipped.”
What should occupy the attention of the elders during their meeting?
Shepherding: “The elders are given spiritual oversight of souls. It is the elders’ responsibility to ensure that each of God’s people entrusted to their care is thriving spiritually… The elders should keep a running ‘Ministering and Shepherding List’ for their eyes only that contains a running list of issues that have reached their attention.”
Prayer: “Having discussed key shepherding issues, it is essential for the elders to then commit these to the Lord in prayer… The elders should give a good amount of time to intercessory prayer for the people… Beyond a scheduled time of intercessory prayer for shepherding issues, the elders should be ready to pray throughout their meeting as the Spirit leads – for discernment and for ministry management.”
Discernment: “In this section of the meeting, the elders are seeking to evaluate past/present ministry according to God’s Word and according to the leadership of the Spirit, and to discern God’s direction for future ministry. Elders must be constantly evaluating the various ministries of the church to be sure they are maximally fruitful.”
Ministry Management: “1 Timothy 5:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12 both speak of the management/practical rulership of the elders over the affairs of the church. An important part of the elders’ meeting, then, must be given to ministry management. This involves details of stewardship like the best expenditures of time, energy, money, and spiritually gifted people.”
“Our elders meet together every other week, usually on a Thursday evening…
A typical elders’ meeting at Capitol Hill Baptist starts with reading the Bible… It calls elders to renew their minds together in Scripture, forging unity among them. It also functions to remind the elders that as they exercise a measure of authority in making decisions on behalf of the church, they too sit under the authority of the Word… Normally, the elders will read the passage that is to be preached on the following Sunday…
Once the elders have read through the passage to be preached the next Sunday, they pray through it…
Periodically an issue will arise in the congregation that requires some biblical study on the part of the elders…
After the Word has been read and prayed through, the elders will share with each other what’s going on in their lives – concerns at work or home, spiritual struggles, personal relationships, answered prayers, and so forth. This time of sharing provides a measure of accountability and mutual encouragement that’s crucial to the integrity and longevity of any elder’s ministry… Once everyone has had an opportunity to share, each elder prays for another…
One of the most strategic times for elders to pray for other members is during elders’ meetings… make a habit of having the elders take turns praying a one- or two-sentence prayer for a few people on each page of the church directory…
When we gather as a group of elders, we need to be praying not just that God would make our church bodies bigger, but that He would make them healthier…
Reading the Bible and praying will usually take us between one-and-a-half and two hours… At this point we’ll take a break, and then come back to discuss the spiritual business of the church…
The first thing we tend to after our time in the Word and prayer is member care. We proceed with losses, then additions, and finally the care list… The care list is simply an informal list of people whom the elders have recognised as needing special attention for a variety of reasons…
[After this comes]
Administration… remember that the spiritual vision and direction set by the elders get enfleshed on the physical and financial level…
Ministry and missions. This is where the elders work to ensure that the spiritual vision of the church is realised, and that the spiritual direction of the church is maintained. A wide variety of things can be discussed under this heading…
We almost always conclude our meetings by having such an elders-only discussion of future elders.”