What are Elders?
We describe our church as elder-led, and of course, we assume that many of you have an understanding of what that means and that you’d feel free to ask if you didn’t. But, maybe that’s an overly optimistic assumption.
Today, I want to quickly explain what we mean. In the New Testament, elders are overseers in the church. In fact, overseer in the scripture is a synonym for the word translated “elder”(compare Titus 1:5 to Titus 1:7).
When Paul established churches he appointed elders to lead the flock (Titus 1:5). Elders were to teach, lead, guide, pray for and watch over the souls of the people in the church. They were to guard right doctrine. They were to shepherd the church. They were to instruct, exhort, and encourage the people of God like a shepherd watching over a flock.
Shepherd is another synonym for elder. The word “pastor” is, in turn, a synonym for shepherd. In other words, pastors are shepherds or elders and elders are pastors or shepherds. All of these, as well as the word overseer, point to the same role and the same office within the church.
As a kind of shorthand, we often refer to men who earn their living by the gospel as pastors and men who volunteer to do the same work as elders. That can be a helpful thing in terms of keeping stuff straight, but it can also cloud the matter. People can think too much of pastors and too little of elders or think of them as utterly different. Biblically, they are the same thing, though distinctions exist in terms of education, career and time devoted to the work.
You can go on our web site at gracegreatbend.org and see a list of our elders. We tend to use currently serving as well as non-serving elders for our prayer time each week. That is meant to get you acquainted with these men by name and face.
At Grace, the elders have people assigned to them, a portion of our flock, as a way of really covering the congregation with care. So, you could say that you have elders and in a special way, you have an elder. They pray for you and, if you have a surgery, or some need, you might well get a call or a note from your elder.
If you have more questions, feel free to send me an email or catch me at work. We take this responsibility with the seriousness that it deserves. We want you to know that.