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If an elder chooses to gain income in another way, that is within the latitude of Scripture. Elders may choose to support themselves by working outside the church, as did Paul, for a number of reasons. They may not wish to put the burden of their support on the church. They may feel their testimony has a greater impact if they do not seek support.

In a church with a plurality of elders, it is likely that some will support themselves, and others will be supported by the church. This will be determined by the group. Either way, it does not affect the man's status as an elder. While the terms lay and clergy are not biblical terms, this doesn't mean they aren't helpful. In certain circumstances, it may be useful to distinguish between those whose full support comes from their service to the church and those whose main source of income is another occupation; but in Scripture, no such artificial distinctions are drawn.

There are not different classes of saints, and in terms of position, there is biblically no difference between a lay elder and a pastor. Each elder is charged with the oversight, care, feeding, protection and teaching of the flock. All the elders together constitute the leadership and example for the rest of the church. All have been ordained by the church, called by God and set apart by God to a shepherding function as defined in the Scriptures.

They are all called to the same level of commitment and to the same office. Subsidy should not be a dividing issue. Every elder has the option to receive support, or to support himself—whichever reflects God's will. In fact, those who choose not to accept support from the church may have an advantage in the ministry they could not enjoy if they were paid by the church.

They are uniquely in a position to display to the world their testimony of being above reproach. They are more exposed to unbelievers in the workplace and are on the cutting edge in a different dimension of life, able to interface with people with whom the church might otherwise have no contact. They may bring a greater degree of credibility to the entire group of elders.

So an elder's subsidy is optional; his spiritual qualifications are not. Clearly, all the biblical data indicates that the pastorate is a team effort. It is significant that every place in the New Testament where the term presbuteros is used, it is plural, except where the Apostle John uses it of himself in 2 and 3 John, and where Peter uses it of himself in 1 Peter The norm in the New Testament church was a plurality of elders.

There is no specific reference in all the New Testament to a one-pastor congregation.

Michael Kruger: God’s Word in the Early Church

This is not to say there were none, but none is mentioned. It is significant that Paul addressed his epistle to the Philippians "to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers [pl. Some have said that Revelation 1 supports the one-pastor concept. There, the apostle John speaks of "the angels of the seven churches" v. Angel can mean "messenger," and those who argue for the single-pastor church say that the messengers here and in chapters 2 and 3 are the pastors of the churches. There are a number of problems with this interpretation.

First, it cannot be proved that angelos refers to a pastor. These "angels" are never called "elder," "bishop," or "pastor. Angelos is nowhere used in the New Testament to refer to a pastor, elder, or bishop, and every other time angelos appears in the book of Revelation, it refers to angels.

Second, even if it could be demonstrated that these angels were pastors, this still would not prove that they were not representatives of a group of pastors. The clear New Testament pattern for church government is a plurality of elders. Acts says: "Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust" Titus says: "The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.

But the church was seen as one church, and decisions were made by a collective process and in reference to the whole, not the individual parts. Much can be said for the benefits of leadership made up of a plurality of godly men. Their combined counsel and wisdom helps assure that decisions are not self-willed or self-serving to a single individual see Proverbs In fact, one-man leadership is characteristic of cults, not of the church.

No, it does not eliminate the unique role of special leaders. Within the framework of elders' ministries there will be great diversity, as each exercises his unique gifts. Some will demonstrate special giftedness in the areas of administration or service; others will evidence stronger gifts of teaching, exhortation, or other abilities.

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Some will be highly visible; others will function in the background. All are within the plan of God for the church. The twelve disciples are a good example of how diversity functions in a unified system. The disciples were all equal in terms of their office and privileges. With the exception of Judas, they all will reign on equal thrones, all to be equally respected and honored Matthew And yet within the Twelve, there was a tremendous amount of diversity. Scripture includes four lists of the disciples—in Matthew , Mark , Luke , and Acts Each list divides the Twelve into three groups of four names, and the three sub-lists always contain the same names, although the order may be altered.

Generally, the names appear in descending order, beginning with those who were most intimate with Christ, and always ending with Judas Iscariot. The first four listed are always Peter, James, John and Andrew. We are more familiar with them, because they were closest to Christ, and the Gospels tell us more about them. It is significant that although the order within the sub-lists differs from one account to another, the first name in each group always remains the same. In the first group, the leading name is always Peter. The first name in the second group is always Philip. And James always leads the listing of the third group.

Apparently, each of the groups had a recognized leader. His position as leader was not necessarily by appointment, but because of the unique influence he had on the rest of the men. Peter, the name at the beginning of every list, became the spokesman for the entire group, as we see repeatedly throughout Scripture. Almost every time the disciples wanted to ask Jesus a question, Peter was the mouthpiece. They had an equal office, equal honor and equal privileges and responsibilities. They were all sent out two by two. They all preached the Kingdom. They all healed. They all had access to Jesus.

But while none of them was less than the others in terms of office or spiritual qualification except for Judas , nevertheless, some of them stood out over the others as leaders among leaders. A position of leadership does not imply spiritual superiority. It seems unlikely that Peter was the most spiritually qualified of the disciples. Perhaps James and John came to Jesus to ask for the highest places because they thought Peter was not qualified.

Even though he was a leader, he certainly was not spiritually superior to the others. It could be that James the Less was the most spiritual of all. He may have had marvelous gifts that we just don't read about, because Peter, as the spokesman for the group, was so dominant. We don't know. But it does no disservice to the equality of the Twelve that one of them would give special leadership to the group. The same phenomenon can be observed in the book of Acts. James, for example, was apparently regarded as a leader and spokesman for the entire church Acts ; Although he was not in any kind of official position over the other elders, they seemed to look to him for leadership, at least at the church in Jerusalem.

Peter was present, yet James was in charge. Their roles clearly differed. But no one was the leader of everything. Peter and John are the two main characters in the first twelve chapters of Acts. Yet there is no record that John ever preached a single sermon. Again, Peter seemed to do all the talking.

It wasn't that John didn't have anything to say; when he finally got it out, he wrote the Gospel of John, three epistles and the book of Revelation. But Peter had unique gifts, and in the plan of God, Peter was to be the spokesman. John's was a supporting role—not a less important role, but a different one. Beginning in Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas become the dominant characters.

And although Barnabas was probably the leading teacher in the church before Paul came along, Paul totally dominated the duo. The Greeks even named him Mercury, because he was the chief spokesman. Barnabas undoubtedly did some teaching and preaching, but his sermons are not recorded. His was a different—less visible, perhaps, but no less important—role in their joint ministry. Every ministry we see in the New Testament is a team effort. Paul seems continually to commend the people who worked with him.

Some of them were, no doubt, co-teachers. Others of them carried out servants' tasks. None of that eliminates the unique roles of leadership. But it does prevent the independent, non-accountable, self-styled leader from dominating—people such as Diotrephes, "who love[d] to be first" 3 John 9.

What is the elder's relation to the congregation? Elders are called and appointed by God, confirmed by the church leadership and assigned the task of leadership. To them are committed the responsibilities of being examples to the flock, giving the church direction, teaching the people and leading the congregation. Scripture implies that anyone at a lower level of leadership involved in decision-making as it relates to church policy or doctrine should be under the elders' authority.

Because they share unique responsibility and position in the church, elders are worthy of great respect. First Thessalonians says: "Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. The word translated "respect" in this passage means "to know intimately. And the reason for this great feeling of appreciation is "because of their work.

Hebrews says, "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Verse 17 adds another dimension of the congregation's duty toward their spiritual leaders: "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burder, for that would be of no advantage you.

The congregation should submit to the elders' leadership and let the elders be concerned with their own accountability before the Lord. If the congregation is submissive and obedient, the elders will be able to lead with joy and not with grief, which is ultimately unprofitable for everyone. This does not mean, however, that if an elder sins openly his sin should be ignored.

Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. An accusation of sin against an elder is not to be received lightly.

Nor is it to be overlooked. Elders are to be disciplined for sinning in the same way anyone else in the church would be. In no way are they to receive preferential treatment.


The testimony of the church is most visible in the lives of the elders. If they ignore the biblical mandate for holiness, the church will suffer the consequences. Equally, if the church is not submissive to the leadership God has ordained, its testimony will suffer, its priorities will be unbalanced, and ultimately its savor as the salt of the earth will be lost.

Our desire is to see God's church functioning as He has ordained, with strength and purity in the midst of a weak and wicked society. Our strong conviction is that when the church submits to God's pattern for leadership, we will experience His blessing beyond measure. Village Bible Church is led by elders who focus their efforts on meeting the needs of individual church members through prayer, outreach, visitation, networking and other means.

All elders will be called to fulfill the biblical mandate of shepherding the flock. Some elders will also be called to serve on the Guiding Elder Team, which makes the guiding decisions determining the course of our church and its ministry. Some elders also fill their role in paid staff position. Shepherding is a specific and vital responsibility of those who accept the call to become elders.

The church and its history

In our model, such elders, in addition to shepherding the members of a local flock in a more personal way, also exercise a governing function. We therefore refer to such elders as Guiding Elders. The Guiding Elder Team is a subset of the full body of elders and is entrusted with the responsibility of decision-making with regard to the overall vision, strategy, direction and ministry of Village Bible Church.

Leading God's People : Wisdom from the Early Church for Today

In addition to their various roles as shepherds, those who function in the role of Guiding Elder serve the church body in the following ways:. The full body of elders is not a decision making body. Meetings of the full body of elders are for the purpose of sharing wisdom, for communication and for discussing and understanding the needs of the church body. Selection: The Scriptures indicate that the first elders were appointed under the authority of the Apostles Acts ; Titus However, no specific guidelines are given in the New Testament as to how this selection process was to be done after the Apostolic Age.

It would appear therefore that local churches are free to develop a process that will best serve their own needs in their particular cultural context. If it is determined that additional elders are needed, the following process es will be followed:. If you wish to nominate someone to the position of elder at Village Bible Church:.

You must be a current member of Village Bible Church. The person you nominate should, in your opinion, meet the requirements as laid out in 1st Timothy Chapter 3 and Titus Chapter 1 in reference to elders. If you'd like to submit a physical copy of your elder recommendation, please download the PDF and submit the form to an elder or our office. To submit your recommendation digitally, visit our Recommend an Elder page.

Answering the Key Questions about Elders The strength, health, productivity and fruitfulness of a church directly reflect the quality of its leadership. What is the proper understanding of the term elder? How is the term elder used in reference to the church? What is the role of an elder? What are the qualifications of an elder? First Timothy says, Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.

Writing to Titus, to whom he had given the responsibility of overseeing the appointment of elders on the island of Crete, he says: The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. Notice the parallels and the differences: 1 Timothy 3 Titus 1 above reproach v.

It covers: Faithfulness to the Lord in behavior, worship, and teaching; and Faithfulness to her husband, morally, as a suitable helper, in obedience, and in the care of children still at home. How are elders to be set apart for their service? Are elders to be supported financially by the church? In 1 Corinthians , Paul says, Am I not free? Is the pastorate a team effort? Does government by elders eliminate the role of special leaders? First Timothy says, Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.

The Ministry of Elders at Village Bible Church Village Bible Church is led by elders who focus their efforts on meeting the needs of individual church members through prayer, outreach, visitation, networking and other means. Shepherding Elders Shepherding is a specific and vital responsibility of those who accept the call to become elders.

In addition to their various roles as shepherds, those who function in the role of Guiding Elder serve the church body in the following ways: Governance: Ultimate decision-making authority resides with the Guiding Elder Team, which has been entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the overall ministry of this church. Guidance and Envisioning: Proverbs Where there is no guidance, the people fall. The Guiding Elder Team is charged with discerning the values and vision that ought to guide the overall ministry of VBC and with formulating goals and strategies that will facilitate the carrying out of that vision.

Following are some of the ways the Guiding Elders are to carry out this responsibility: Through constant prayer and by searching the Scriptures, they are to seek direction and guidance from the Holy Spirit. They are to empower the staff to implement the vision, goals, doctrine and values of the Church. They are to participate in envisioning, blessing and empowering new ministries that are consistent with the vision, goals, values and doctrine of Village Bible Church.

They have a responsibility to communicate matters of importance to the body. Interaction and communication between the Guiding Elders and the staff should reflect a recognition of and respect for the staff organizational chart. Direction: The Guiding Elder Team ensures that the direction of the church is consistent with its statement of purpose and core values. With the assistance of other spiritually mature individuals, they guide the life of the church 1 Timothy ; a. It is also the responsibility of the Guiding Elders, in conjunction with the staff, to identify areas in need of deacon oversight.

Church discipline is administered under the oversight of the Guiding Elder Team. The Guiding Elder Team reviews and approves the annual ministry budget to ensure that it is in line with the mission, vision and strategic emphases that have been agreed upon for the coming year. The Guiding Elder Team reviews, directs and approves all financial transactions.

Different Day, Same Conversation

The Guiding Elder Team is responsible for keeping the full body of elders informed about the overall affairs and direction of the church. For each local congregation, a Guiding Elder will oversee the Shepherding Elder team focused on that location. Size: The number of elders will be as many as are qualified and needed to carry out the ministry of elders in the church. The Guiding Elder Team will determine that number. Equality and Plurality: While elders may differ in terms of giftedness, spiritual maturity, training and Biblical knowledge, they all have equal authority and responsibility.

Christianity addresses the historical figure of Jesus Christ against the background of, and while seeking to remain faithful to, the experience of one God. It has consistently rejected polytheism and atheism. A second element of the faith tradition of Christianity, with rare exceptions, is a plan of salvation or redemption.

That is to say, the believers in the church picture themselves as in a plight from which they need rescue. For whatever reason , they have been distanced from God and need to be saved. The agent of that redemption is Jesus Christ. It is possible that through the centuries the vast majority of believers have not used the term essence to describe the central focus of their faith. The term is itself of Greek origin and thus represents only one part of the tradition, one element in the terms that have gone into making up Christianity.

Essence refers to those qualities that give something its identity and are at the centre of what makes that thing different from everything else. To Greek philosophers it meant something intrinsic to and inherent in a thing or category of things, which gave it its character and thus separated it from everything of different character. Thus, Jesus Christ belongs to the essential character of Christianity and gives it a unique identity.

If most people are not concerned with defining the essence of Christianity, in practice they must come to terms with what the word essence implies. Whether they are engaged in being saved or redeemed on the one hand, or thinking and speaking about that redemption, its agent, and its meaning on the other, they are concentrating on the essence of their experience.

Those who have concentrated from within the faith tradition have also helped to give it its identity. It is not possible to speak of the essence of a historical tradition without referring to how its ideal qualities have been discussed through the ages. Yet one can take up the separate subjects of essence and identity in sequence, being always aware of how they interrelate. Marty …See All Contributors. Seller Inventory ZZN. Book Description William B. Paperback or Softback. Seller Inventory BBS Book Description Eerdmans Pub Co, Condition: Brand New.

In Stock. Seller Inventory z Book Description Eerdmans, First Edition. Very minor shelf wear, otherwise an un-blemished copy. Ships same or next business day!. Christopher Beeley. This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title Using the wisdom of the past to address the challenges of the present, Christopher Beeley's Leading God's People presents key principles of church leadership as they were taught by great pastor-theologians of the early church, including Gregory of Nazianzus, Ambrose, Augustine, Chrysostom, and Gregory the Great.

Review : In a religious climate where language about leadership is often regarded as basically a matter of secular managerial intrusion into theology, it is wonderful to have a book like this that roots our thinking about the calling of the Christian leader in the wisdom of the early church.

An Episcopal priest with full-time parish experience, he is also the author of Gregory of "About this title" may belong to another edition of this title. Buy New View Book. About AbeBooks. Customers who bought this item also bought.