Writings on Christianity

What is an Elder?

Our church, Cross of Christ Fellowship, recently had a combined community group seminar on “What is elder?” Here are some of the notes. The quotes are from Rinne’s book on elders.

What is an Elder?
A Cross of Christ Fellowship Combined Community Group Seminar

Initial Questions: When you hear the term “elder,” what comes to your mind?
What is an elder? What questions do you have about this topic? Why does this matter?

I. DEFINITION: What is an Elder?
Tom’s definition: An elder is an office in a local church held by qualified men who are called to pastor, prayer, lead, and care for members of a local church.

-Elders “are God’s plan for leading his churches” (14)
-“Biblically speaking, elders are pastors, who are overseers.” (16)

II. BIBLE: What does the Bible Teach about Elders?
1. Qualifications:
-1 Tim 3:1-7
-Titus 1:5-9
            What do these passages teach us about elders?
                        -How does Titus 1:5-7 help us define terms?
            How do the qualifications challenge or reshape how we view the office of elder?
2. Task:
-Shepherding1 Peter 5:1-5
-Equipping: Eph 4:11-16
-Leading: Heb 13:7, 17
            How do these passages inform how we are to think about elders?
            How does the shepherd imagery shape how think about elders?

Elder “a pastor is a shepherd, and pastoring means caring for a flock.” (33)
-“if we had to summarize an elder’s job description, we might simply say, “Shepherd the flock”…elders are pastors/shepherds, and their core job is to tend the church’s members like shepherds tend their sheep…elders are under-shepherds who serve the Good Shepherd by leading his sheep” (34-5).

3. Plurality: Acts 14:23; Phil 1:1; Acts 20:17, 28

III. More Insights from Rinne:

1. Goal of Elders: help members grow in Christian maturity. (Col 1:28-29)
Elders work hard in relationships with church members in order to help them grow up in Jesus…that they might know Jesus more intimately, obey him more faithfully, and reflect his character more clearly, both individually and as a church family.” (40)

2. Elders are Called to Teach and Preach God’s Word (ch 3)
-Elders are called to proclaim God’s Word
-Elder are called to protect against false doctrines.

3. Elders are Called to Track Down the Stray Sheep
-Elders are responsible to track down strays
-Elders are mainly responsible for members

1 Sinning Sheep (unrepentant sin)

2 Wandering Sheep (wander into other activities)
3 Limping Sheep (suffering)
4 Fighting sheep (conflict with each other)
5 Biting Sheep (struggling with you)

4. Elders are Called to Lead
step up and work hard at leading your church. You don’t need to have all the answers, and you certainly won’t get everything exactly right. But Jesus has commissioned you to guide his flock. Your church needs you to take the initiative and plot a course forward.” (74-5)

IV. Implications and Applications
Implications: What are the implications for you as a non-elder member of a church?

Applications: How does this challenge that way you tend to think about elders? Or does it challenge our culture’s view of authority? How can we put into practice what we learned tonight?


By Tom Schmidt

Christian, husband of Rach, Church Planter,musician,

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