You may not be aware of it, but for several years October has been designated nationally as Pastors Appreciation Month. It seems to be intended mostly for those who are preachers or considered “clergy.” But biblically the Elders are the Pastors–shepherds who both feed the flock with good teaching, & protect them from the wolves of false teaching & doctrinal error. Churches are to be led not by just one “Pastor” but by a plurality–a team of them who are not interested in power or titles or special recognition (Acts 11:30, Phil. 1:1, James 5:14-15).
In Acts 20 Paul reminds the Elders in nearby Ephesus: “…I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house…I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:20-27). The Eldership is no place for cowards! We declare, preach & teach the Word of God! Here’s what Paul demands of Elders who teach: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). That’s our job.
Our church is governed simply as Elder-guarded & staff-guided. Elders are local overseers [bishops] who shepherd [pastor] God’s flock (Acts 20:17, 28, 1 Pet. 5:1-5). Besides myself, we have 3 solid Elders like that–Greg Bobruk, Ken Tomalak, & Keith Whitehouse. Two more men are in training. We recognize that we’re able to do what we do because we have so many supportive people here who pray for us, serve alongside us, and encourage us (1 Tim. 5:17, Heb. 13:17).
But each believer is encouraged to “shepherd” their own little “flock.” Help your family to develop a relationship with Christ; help your friends understand the Bible in greater depth; help your Group take personal responsibility for their own spiritual growth; model Christianity for your community. Help those you know to spiritually grow.
To live the life of Christ is to demonstrate the character of an Elder. The qualities that are expected of spiritually mature men to become Pastors are what’s actually expected of all Christians. Not everyone is called to be an Elder either by gifting, age, gender, experience, or wisdom–but all should want to be like them:
“Above reproach, the husband of one wife [sexually faithful & maritally monogamous], sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable…not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” (1 Tim. 3:2-4). They are to be mature men of sterling quality & wisdom who don’t just hold an “office” but who serve as role models. They’re never “off-duty.” No church leader is perfect, but the expectations are higher as we set the example for others.
Christ has given His Church leaders who are to keep it true to the Word, & who can make decisions in matters of expediency–what’s the best thing to do with the options we have in accordance with God’s will? So our Elders meet monthly in person to discuss pertinent issues, & evaluate church health. They meet weekly for online prayer. They’re available when members need spiritual care & counsel–praying for those with needs, anointing the sick, comforting, counseling, handling disputes, and preserving unity (James 5:13-16, 1 Cor. 4:14). Scripture also charges them to guard the church against harmful influences by rebuking & correcting those who are contradicting biblical truth, or causing dissension & division, or continuing in patterns of sinful behavior. That’s why church members make themselves accountable to them. Elders also restore spiritually fallen members when they’ve exhibited repentance.
Do you aspire to become an Elder, or at least to behave like one? That’s a noble thing (1 Tim. 3:1). Thank God for good Elders. They’re a rare breed.