The New Testament describes the activities of elders, in three categories: Leadership, Oversight, and Shepherding. These functions naturally overlap (and should not be seen as independent, unrelated responsibilities). The following verses demonstrate how these broad Biblical functions of elders are to be demonstrated in New Testament life.
- By doctrinal adherence: “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it" Titus 1:9 (NIV).
- By leadership in the home: “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)” 1 Timothy 3:4–5 (NIV).
- By management: “The elders who direct the affairs of the church...” 1 Timothy 5:17a (NIV).
- By willingness to confront when necessary: Elders and congregation work together in church discipline (Matthew 18:15-17).
- By commissioning leaders: “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands…” 1 Timothy 5:22 (NIV) or “Do not neglect your gift... when the body of elders laid their hands on you” 1 Timothy 4:14 (NIV).
- By Godly example: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you” Hebrews 13:17 (NIV).
- By character: “Remember your leaders… consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” Hebrews 13:7 (NIV).
- By honest service: “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock" 1 Peter 5:1-3 (NIV).
- By shepherding God’s flock: “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).
- By guarding God’s flock: (to elders) “...savage wolves will come... so be on your guard!” Acts 20:29, 31 (NIV).
- By praying for God’s flock: “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord” James 5:14 (NIV).
- By demonstrating hospitality and integrity: “Rather, he (an elder) must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined" Titus 1:8 (NIV).
The Board of Elders is responsible for the local church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures. The church’s Biblical vision and mission, the church’s health and vitality, and the church’s activities and plans are all equally under the governing care and guidance of the Elder Board. This leadership group assumes responsibility for the local church and must, therefore, be faithful in leadership, oversight, and shepherding. While the Elder Board cannot personally meet all of the legitimate, spiritual needs of the church, they must see to it that needs are met through raising up co-laborers and fellow ministers.
In addition to Biblical parameters, Fellowship elders also maintain functional parameters:
- Keep Fellowship focused on our vision and mission.
- Establish yearly parameters and goals for accurate planning.
- Approve the staff ministry plan and budget.
- Manage resources to assure goals and objectives are met.
- Oversee staff and congregational health.
- Define and adapt operating principles.
- Evaluate the focus, spiritual health, and ministry of the Directional Leader.