According to Acts 20:28, elders are called, or appointed by the Holy Spirit. When a local church elects and ordains an elder they are simply recognizing and confirming the Spirit's call. Along with church pastors, elders have a tremendous responsibility to their congregations. To elders, Paul says, "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood."—Acts 20:28 (NIV).
Scripture describes an elder as someone who has: · Knowledge, experience, and wisdom that church members can draw from for guidance and spiritual support (Acts 15:2, 6; 16:4). · The ability and will to shepherd and care for the body of believers (Acts 20:28-31; Hebrews 13:17). · 3A willingness and ability to teach and instruct others in spiritual matters (I Timothy 3:2; Hebrews 13:7; I Timothy 5:17; Acts 20:30). · The ability and will to equip and teach members how to share their Christian faith (Ephesians 4:11-13). · A positive example and influence among the church body and community (I Peter 5:3; Hebrews 13:7).
The church is a kingdom of priests set free to minister for Christ. Our priesthood is to each other within the church and to the world. An elder, like any other church officer, is a ministering servant of God. Every Christian believer is called to ministry, gifted by the Holy Spirit, and in baptism ordained for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Duties of the Elder:
The ministry to which a person is called when he or she becomes an elder can best be described in the following ways:
The elder can actively visit members in their homes, encourage others to do so, and assist in the training of prospective members.
It is especially important for the local elder to be committed to the outreach of the church. When an elder enthusiastically models a commitment of his or her time to outreach ministry, others catch the same spirit and commit themselves to the mission of the church. An elder should schedule time for ministering to the unsaved.
Quality leadership and participation can transform a dull, lifeless worship service into meaningful celebration and praise. Skills in worship leadership, such as the reading of scripture, offering public prayers, planning the order of service, and in smaller churches at least, delivering the sermon, should be developed.
A Spiritual Mentor.
The spiritual life of an elder should constantly lead members of the church to seek a deeper spiritual experience for themselves. I Timothy, chapter 3, describes the Christian life of an elder in these words: “. . . above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle. . .” An elder should model, by his or her devotional life, Christian personality and spiritual interest, a higher ideal for each member to reach. The elder should reflect the fruits of the Spirit in his or her relationship with others: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
An elder should always attempt to make a positive contribution to the organization and progress of the church. While doing this, he or she should not try to dominate or control but rather enable others to participate in decision-making in the church and ministry. An elder often serves in an advisory capacity to various departments, committees, and projects. In doing this, the elder provides unity among the various programs of the church, communicates progress to the church board and encourages a unified mission.