What is the role/responsibility of an elder?

18 Sep

This weekend, the pastors & elders of United Evangelical Free Church in Seattle had their first ever elders retreat at Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center. The first half of the retreat was focused on answering the question, “What does Scripture say about the role of an Elder? What does each role seem to entail? Are there priorities within these roles?”

We studied the following passages (which pretty much included every passage in the New Testament that talks about elders): Acts 6:1-6; 11:27-30; 14:21-23; 15:1-4; 15:22-29; 16:1-4; 20:17-38; 21:17-26; 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:7-9; Hebrews 13:7, 17-18; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1-6.

From our study, we came to the conclusion that overall, the elder is to be an Overseeing Shepherd—a leader of the flock. In carrying this out he is to focus on the following roles and responsibilities;

  • Ministry of the word*—Teaching  sound doctrine; Preaching (proclamation); Exhortation; Refutation of error
  • Prayer*—[*Ministry  of the Word and Prayer seem to be the key roles of elders]
  • Guardian—Of themselves as elders (seems to be to look out for yourself and the other elders); Of the flock (be alert for danger that may come)
  • Nurture—Spiritual care seems to be a priority for direct action; Physical care seems to be primarily a delegated action, though the responsibility remains with the elders
  • Leadership—While it includes all the above, two key traits seem to stand out: Providing direction; and Stewardship (seeking to care for the flock as God would; God will hold them accountable for their leadership and shepherding)

“Many men get bogged down with administrative details and neglect to serve people as shepherds and teachers”

Gene Getz

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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in Bible Study, Church, Leadership, Scripture


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