Church Elders

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by KPBAP, May 27, 2003.

  1. KPBAP

    KPBAP
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    Does your church have Elders? What are their responsibilities? Do you also have deacons?
    Do you think more Baptist churches are electing Elders? If so, why and how do they function?
     
  2. Major B

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    It is happening ever so slowly, but some Baptist churches around here are going to biblical eldership as opposed to unbiblical one-man pastorship or even more unbiblical rule by deacon board.

    I know of two SBC churches in this general area that have been elder-ruled for some time, of another one which has just recently voted to institute eldership, and one church plant which is starting out with elders. I was an elder in a Baptist church in New Jersey some years ago.

    I think the best expository treatment which explains eldership is "Biblical Eldership" by Alexander Strauch.
     
  3. go2church

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    Baptist = congregational rule
    Baptist = local church autonomy
    so I guess if they want elders go ahead
     
  4. TomVols

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    After investigation, I have come to the conclusion that I do not believe that a church must have plurality of elders, despite the fact that I'm sympathetic to it because of my fellow Reformed folks having this conviction. Most baptist churches that are ruled by the pastor or ruled by a deacon "board" are unScriptural.

    I believe that in any case, the elders are to lead the church, the deacons are to serve the church, and the congregation is to rule the church.

    I would like to see more orthopraxy as to how elder led churches operate, especially with deacons. Most of the ones I am familiar with have paid staff exclusively serving as elders. I don't know in practice how this is different from the typical mega-church.

    Lloyd Jones argued that churches must not make church government and polity a divisive doctrine. I fear that too many reformed folks have done this.
     
  5. Bro. James Reed

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    We most certainly do. All Primitive Baptist churches have Elders.

    To preach the gospel and feed the flock.

    Yes, they are to do the work around the church so that the Elders may dedicate themselves to preaching the gospel; i.e. they are kind of like assistants to the Elders.

    They are in charge of visitation to the widows and the sickly. They are the ones who maintain the upkeep of the church (not so much the work portion, but letting the congregation know when there is work needing to be done) And, everything else that is laid out in the Bible for the deacons to do.

    Of course, when you have only one deacon, like our church, the Elders will perform more deacon duties, as will the rest of the members.

    Anyway, just so we're on the same page, an Elder, in the Primitive Baptist church, as the Bible lays out, is a Bishop or Preacher. Many people refer to this job as Pastor, but one can be an Elder/Preacher without being a Pastor, i.e. leader of any particular church.

    Bro. James
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    We have elders selected by the church body, including the "pastor" and "assoc. pastor". The congregation has allowed the elders to make certain decisions.

    After 6 months of these lay-elders trying to oversee the church AND do all the preaching (pastor had resigned and moved), they asked me to be interim. I'm in my 14th month - 2 Sundays to go!

    We have deacons, likewise selected by the church body, to perform the more "mundane" work - building, budget, etc.
     
  7. Deacon

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    May I ask (perhaps in ignorance) what separates a pastor from an elder? Is there a difference in authority?

    Are elders paid employees of the church (like a pastor)? Or are they volunteers? Is there a hierarchy of elders, the preaching pastor considered "above" the rest?

    Rob
     
  8. bapterian

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    Our church does not have elders, but I believe it is scriptural to have elders leading the church as teachers of the Word. I pray our church will consider opening up this office. We still have a long way to go because of current traditions and attitudes. Our deacons serve the congregation by ministering to their spiritual and physical needs. Our deacons do not have any governing authority.

    The loss of elder leadership in Baptist churches today is a modern phenomenon.
     
  9. Charlesga

    Charlesga
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    Our church does elect elders, and the deacons serve in the biblical role of servants. The elders are responsible for some decision making and promoting spirtual growth. Unfortunatly, the position has turned into a complaints department rather than a leadership role.
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    Biblically there is no difference. This thread probably sprang from someone who thinks that there is. Every church with a pastor as an elder. The Scriptures never requires that a church have more than of these, though that is certainly permissable should a church so desire.

    The elder/pastor/overseer's responsibility is to oversee (manage (1 Tim 3; Titus 1), have charge over (1 Thess 5:14), rule (1 Tim 5:17) are the biblical terms for it); It is also to shepherd (care and feed). Too many churches want an elder who will do the latter but not the former. Any elder who does not do the former is not fulfilling the biblical role of elder.

    Since an elder is a pastor, they can be paid employees. They do not have to be.

    Usually in title; always in reality. Plural eldership where everyone is "equal" is a functional impossibility. Someone is always a little "more equal" than the rest. It is usually the senior pastor who provides the leadership. The other elders serve along with him.

    Too many churches have gotten away from the biblical model of an elder/pastor/overseer who actually does his job. The congregation calls a pastor to lead them and then they are expected to follow him. If the pastor leads unbiblically, then they are to come and bring the appropriate Scriptures for discussion. If the pastor does something that is not unbiblical but that someone does not like, they are to get in line and follow. Scripture never gives any authority to a church member to leave a church or to cause a problem over their own personal preferences.

    The pastor must act wisely, understanding the nature and role of leadership. He is not to "lord it over the flock," but to lead gently, wisely, bringing people along. Too many pastors lead with an iron fist. That is a bad way. We need men who are biblically wise and godly in their leadership.
     
  11. Deacon

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    Pastor Larry, Please pardon my persistent questioning, I'm learning here.

    Where does ordination of a pastor come into play?
    Would an unordained elder be a second class elder?

    In the church I attend we have a "deacon board" that runs things under the direction of a single pastor, (although we will be having an ordination service very shortly for a second pastor).
    Some of the "elder" (older) deacons would meet the qualifications for an elder, yet do not have the full theological school education for ordination.

    It seems to me that they would still be filling the deacon role (that of service) if they became an elder.

    Rob
     
  12. TomVols

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    Pastor Larry, I'd disagree with this statement. 1 Tim 5:17,18; 1 Cor 9:11, etc. supports the practice of paid ministry.
     
  13. Bro. James Reed

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    Shall I say it, brethren? Dead horse, dead horse.

    Since Pastor Larry has not answered yet, though he probably will, I will jump on this. As far as the PB church is concerned, there is no such thing as ordaining a Pastor, in the sense that we usually think of the word.

    There is no such thing as an unordained Elder. One only becomes an Elder after being ordained.

    Let me explain. The PB church votes to ordain men to the office of Elder, once they have a good report and follow the rest of the biblical steps. Once they have been ordained, they may or may not be the Pastor of any church. An Elder is one who is called by God to preach the gospel. The Pastor is the one who leads the flock, hopefully by example.

    Now, there may be more than one ordained Elder in a church, but only one Pastor. I do believe that the Pastor and the other Elders should discuss things, but ultimately, the elected Pastor has the leadership role.

    Now, the Pastor has the leadership role, and, IMO, the charge over who and what is preached in the pulpit. Of course, the Pastor is not the only one to ever preach in the pulpit.

    Currently, our Pastor only preaches 2 Sundays a month for us. He has appointments elsewhere on the others. We have one Elder who preaches for us on 4th Sundays. We have one Licentiate(not yet ordained, but given liberty to preach by his home church) on 2nd Sundays. And we have one Elder from Louisiana who preaches for us every other 3rd Sunday. At least I think that's right. Sometimes, I forget the schedule. Pretty bad, considering I'm the clerk. :eek:

    Does that, at least somewhat, clear up your understanding of what Pastor and Elder are?

    A Pastor is always an Elder, but an Elder is not necessarily a Pastor. Reminds me of my old Logic class. :D

    God Bless. Bro. James
     
  14. Pastor Larry

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    Ordination is the formal recognition of the church that a man has the qualifications and calling to be a pastor. One can be an elder without it, though most are not.

    It depends on the church. Most "elders" are not ordained in the church that they pastor anyway. They were ordained in some church years ago.

    Theological education is not required for ordination. Sound doctrine and a good testimony are. One can have sound doctrine with seminary training, but it is very difficult to gain the breadth of knowledge necessary to be well enough grounded for a place of pastoral leadership apart from it. A man that is a deacon could be an elder, but he would have to leave his position as deacon to do such. The deacon and elder do different functions (or at least should). Most deacons are underused to do what they are supposed to be doing and most pastors pick up the slack without insisting that their deacons do their job.

    In most church, the deacon board considers themselves an elder board. That is unfortunate.
     
  15. Pastor Larry

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    Pastor Larry, I'd disagree with this statement. 1 Tim 5:17,18; 1 Cor 9:11, etc. supports the practice of paid ministry. </font>[/QUOTE]Perhaps I was not clear. I think they should be paid. I think the pastor's salary should be at the top of the priority list for a church budget. He ought to be their first missionary and other things taken on only when he is paid a living wage for the community he is in.

    My only point was that he does not have to be paid. He may be bi-vocational. He may be indepedently wealthy, or retired and living on a pension. It might be a church plant where the funds simply are not there for a time.

    As a general rule, he should be paid. But neither he nor the church is sinning if he is not. I would add that they are sinning if he wants to be paid and works hard enough to be paid, but the church refuses to pay him. As a whole, I agree with you on this.
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    What Scripture are you basing this on??

    Unfortunately, it doesn't bear much semblance ot a Bible class :D :D ... What Scripture are you using to make this disinction?? The Scripture makes no distinction between an elder and a pastor. All elders are to be pastors. There is no elder that is not to be a pastor. This is a distinction that Scripture does not make and it is one we should not make either.
     
  17. Bro. James Reed

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    Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

    Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
    1:6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
    1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
    1:8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
    1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

    Perhaps I should clarify the PB position on Pastors. The Pastor of the church would be what some might call the Senior Pastor/Elder. Not that he is to be put higher than another Elder in the church, but he is the one that the church feels should lead them. And of course, he should lead by example and not by constraint.

    Also, perhaps I need to make clear that I think all Elders should be willing and able to be Pastor. After all, they have the exact same qualifications.

    I do see what your saying that the Bible makes no distinction between pastor and elder, but I have a question for you. Say you have two ordained Elders who are both participating members of the same church. The church calls one of them to be Pastor. What happens to the other one? Is he suddenly no longer an ordained Elder? You would agree that he is not the Pastor if the other Elder is the Pastor, right? So, what would you call him?

    That is exactly what I mean when I say he can be an Elder and a Pastor, or just an Elder, laying in wait to be a Pastor. I might add, if an Elder can go his entire ministry without ever being called to Pastor a church, then something is wrong. I have never known an Elder who was not the Pastor of a church at some point.

    God Bless. Bro. James
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    I assume you are citing these as proof of elder needing to be ordained. I think what this is is very different than what we think of as ordination today. But more directly, this does not dictate that elders must be ordained.

    When you have two ordained elders, you already have two pastors. The idea that a church can only have one pastor is not supported in Scripture. A church should have one pastor, but they are not limited to only one. Some churches have "co-pastors;" many have a senior pastor and an assistant or assistants to help in various roles. They are all pastors. There is no elder who is not a pastor. A person gets to be an elder by the call of the church body. If he was not called by the body, then he is not an elder in that church.

    How does one get to be an elder without being a pastor? Elder is the office in the church that is responsible for overseering and shepherding (pastoring). I don't understand how you have an elder who is not a pastor.

    God Bless. Bro. James [/QB][/QUOTE]
     
  19. Bro. James Reed

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    Can we say, "semantics?" I think you have a pre-conceived notion about what a Pastor/Elder is. You need to look at what the titles mean in the Primitive Baptist Church. I need to point out that most other denominations use different terms for jobs than we do.

    Ex:

    Elder - one who is called of God, called by the church, ordained by a presbytery of other ministers, and preaches the gospel to feed the flock.

    Pastor - an Elder who has been voted by the church to fill the position of leadership. To guide the church. To take care over the pulpit and what is preached from it.

    Now, in the PB church, there is only one position of leadership in the church, as the Bible never shows there to be more than one Pastor of a church. Therefore, we have one Pastor and several ordained Elders/Preachers.

    In modern terms, you might also call an Elder who is not a Pastor an Evangelist. In this term, it IS separately labeled in the Bible as a different office.

    Now, we are getting too caught up in semantics. You also need to look at the way business is to be conducted, since it is not layed out in the Bible. In the PB church, the Pastor, about 99% of the time, is also the moderator of the business meetings. So, the Pastor is kind of like the Chairman of the Board and the Church is the Board members. God is the Owner, who wrote out the by-laws of the "company," and Christ is the CEO. (or something like that.)

    Anyway, the point is we are to look to our Pastor for direction and leadership. How would it be if we had to look to several people for this? What if there was a disagreement over something? That's a good way to split a church.

    Please tell me, why did they ordain them, if they didn't have to? Don't you think we should follow the guidelines set forth in the Bible with regards to this matter? What was the whole purpose of an ordination? I don't think it was written just for looks. :D

    What about these?

    Mark 3:14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

    John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

    1 Timothy 2:7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

    Please tell me why these were ordained to preach, but modern day preachers don't need to be. I believe the same which applied to the apostles and then on to their ordainees (is that a word [​IMG] ) should apply to us today.

    God Bless. Bro. James
     
  20. Pastor Larry

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    I would say respectfully that it makes no difference how they are used in hte PB church. I don't care about that. I am using the terms as they are used biblically. That is the defining point we should be looking at. My definition of elder/pastor/overseer is drawn from the text of Scripture. In Scripture, there is no difference between them. That should be our guide.

    A presbyter of ministers has no authority to ordain anyone. Only the local congregation has authority. Usually, an ordination council convenes at the request and pleasure of the congregation. That council then makes a recommendation to the congregation who can follow their recommendation or not follow it. The "presbytery of elders" (something the NT knows nothing about) has no authority over the congregation and has no authority to ordain anyone.

    I agree with this. This is why I reject "elder rule" as it is typically defined. There is one leader in the church. However, the size of a ministry may require assistants pastors/elders, called by the congregation to focus on a particular area of the church.

    But I do not believe the elder is ever called an evangelist, or the evangelist is ever called an elder.

    This is typical and not problemmatic.

    I agree. See above on split leadership. It just doesn't work very well.

    They ordained them as a stamp of approval by the congregation on their life and doctrine. Ordination says "This man has passed the test." I do think we should follow the guidelines. The normal procedure is for a pastor to be ordained. I am not arguing against that. But I am saying that a person can be a pastor without being ordained.

    I am not sure that any of those passages use "ordain" the way that we use it today. I would have to study them more in depth.

    Remember, I am not arguing that pastors don't need to to be ordained. I think they should be ordained. But it is possible to be an elder (legitimately) and not be ordained. Remember, ordination is not the stamp of God on someone. It is the judgment of the local body about the worthiness of an individual's life and doctrine to minister the word to the body. That body may be wrong in their judgment. Ordination is not foolproof. If a body refuses to ordain a man, I think that man needs to take it very seriously and should not continue to pursue vocational ministry without serious counsel and subsequent ordination.
     

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