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Essential Characteristics of a New Testament Elder

Pastoral Leadership

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28

  • Being an Elder is different from being a “Board Member.”  Grace Crossing Elders are to be servant leaderswho shepherd the flock like Jesus did. Elders are to primarily be leaders and servants of the Church, not corporate executives, CEOs or advisors to a pastor. 

  • The flock is both the individual church member and the church as a whole. 

  • As shepherds of the church Elders are to:

    • Protect the church from false teachers & teachings

      • They need to be biblically knowledgeable

      • They need to be doctrinally sound

      • They need to be able to judge doctrinal issues

    • Feed the church

      • Be able and willing to teach (1 Timothy 3:2)

      • Teach the “whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27)

    • Lead the church

      • Provide oversight and direction to the flock

      • Provide the hard work and sacrifice when called upon, not viewing eldership as a status or board position

    • Help meet the practical needs of the church

      • Care for the church through comforting, strengthening, praying and counseling

 

Shared / Team Leadership:  

Jesus did not appoint one man to lead His church. He personally appointed and trained twelve men. We see this modeled for us in the New Testament church as well. Jesus gave the church a “plurality of leadership.” Elders must understand:

  • Elders are a part of a unified group, directed by love in a shared leadership structure – a plurality.

  • The elders operate as a “council of equals” where they act jointly as a council and share equal authority and responsibility for the leadership of the church.

  • However, recognizing that not all elders are equal in their giftedness, biblical knowledge, leadership ability and calling, experience or dedication, there will naturally develop a “first among equals” or a “leader among leaders.”

  • The principal of “first among equals” is observed first in our Lord’s dealings with the twelve apostles. Jesus chose and empowered all of them to preach and heal, but He singles out three for special attention- Peter, James and John. Among the three, as well as among the Twelve, Peter stood out as the most prominent. Peter possessed no legal or official rank or title above the other eleven. They were not his subordinates…He was simply first among his equals, by our Lord’s approval.”

 

Qualified Leadership :

Three broad categories of moral and spiritual qualifications based on 1Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.

  1. Moral and Spiritual Character of the man

    1. Must be “above reproach”

    2. Must be a man of integrity, self-control and spiritual maturity

    3. Must be spiritually devout, righteous, a lover of good, hospitable, and morally above reproach before the non-Christian community

    4. Must be gentle, stable, sound-minded and uncontentious

    5. Must NOT have a dictatorial spirit or be quick-tempered, pugnacious, or self-willed

    6. Must NOT be a new Christian

  2. Abilities of the man to perform the task

    1. Must be able to manage his family household well

i.Managing the local church is more like managing a family than managing a business. Being a successful businessman, public official, or office manager does not necessarily make a good elder.

ii.Must be a model for others to follow

iii.Must be able to teach and exhort the congregation in sound doctrine and defend the truth from false teachers

  1. Spirit – Led and Spirit – Given Motivation for the Task (Acts 20:28)

i.The Holy Spirit alone calls a man to the office of elder.

ii.Apart from the Holy Spirit’s call, an elder will be an unhappy, impatient, guilty, fearful and ineffective leader and servant.

Servant Leadership:

  1. Must be a servant leader willing to serve the Grace Crossing congregation.

  2. Must be willing to sacrifice their time, energy and resources for the good of others and the Kingdom

  3. Must be willing to forego a measure of career achievement and/or private leisurely lifestyle

  4. Must clothe themselves in humility toward one another

  5. Among the pastor and elder council, he must be able to patiently build consensus, compromise, persuade, listen, handle disagreement, forgive, receive rebuke and correction, confess sin, and appreciate the wisdom and perspective of others – even those with whom they disagree

  6. Eldership is to never be viewed as a status or board position, but rather as demanding servant leadership