I’ve gotten quite a few questions from friends over the last year about why I was OK with pastoring a church that was elder-led. Here are a few reasons I was more than OK, but even preferred, to pastor a church with elders.
- I need accountability. Obviously, I can be held accountable with elders, but man does it help to have men who are so committed to seeing the church glorify God, and seeing the pastor stay healthy spiritually.
- I need someone who can say, “No.” Obviously, anyone can say no. But if the only real authority in the church equal or “over” the pastor is the personnel team (when it gets bad enough to potentially fire the pastor), there’s a problem.
- I can’t lead the church alone. Obviously, we have the Holy Spirit to lead. But, doesn’t it just seem better that there are multiple men seeking God’s will for the future of the Church, and to care for and shepherd the church?
- I may not be here forever. I hope I will be at my current church until I retire (I love it!), but pastors often move to different churches. Elders are more likely to have a family history in the area, and likely to stay. This is good for transition!
- God leads through a plurality of Godly men. Most simply put, it is the clear New Testament norm that a local church was led by a plurality of elders. The video below is taken from a message I gave on Titus 1, and further explains this.
God absolutely uses churches that don’t have elders, or pastors with equal authority. I don’t want to come across as someone who doubts that. I don’t at all. But I thought I’d share why my heart and pastoral ministry needs elders, and why even only after 8 months working with them for the first time in my life, I absolutely LOVE IT!
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The Greek word translated as “elder” simply means “older”. The context of scripture implies the more spiritually mature.
Discipleship is a process. I have observed some who matured spiritually in five years where it took some others forty.
So age itself is not the criteria.
The preacher, pastor, over-seer, minister has the primary responsibility for the leadership of the local church body. And, an awesome responsibility it is. He is under the authority of Jesus Christ as the Head of the church to lead, teach, and equip the membership to accomplish the ministry of the church. He is wise if he both seeks and heeds the counsel of the “elders”. Reference: Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro. Elders are wise if they do not seek to control, but to prayerfully provide guidance, counsel, and encouragement to their pastor as well as the membership.
The word “deacon” simply means “servant” or “table waiter”. Deacons and Elders are both recognized in our churches as leaders.
They must always see themselves as “servant-leaders”
The church can best carry out its mission when pastor, elders, deacons, teachers, and members have a partnership of humility.
If any one or group tries to assume authority or control, it will limit the power of the Holy Spirit to do His work.
I pray that you all continue to flourish for His Glory.
I love this post! Working with Elders has been a blessing for me as well. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.