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Featured Elder rule, lead

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by agedman, Nov 24, 2019.

  1. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    Is your church moving toward elder rule/lead?

    Is your church elder rule/lead?

    What pitfalls and advice might you give to any prospective pastor considering candidating in an elder lead/rule church?

    Does a church ever revert back from elder rule/lead to congregationalism?
     
  2. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    You have a lot of questions there, hombre.

    Elder (πρεσβύτερος) is the church office responsible for teaching. It is also the main pastoral office of the New Testament church. Pastors are actually elders. While the office of pastor and teacher is mentioned in Ephesians 4:11, the Apostle Paul charged Timothy to establish elders in every city in which he ministered (Titus 1:5).

    Some churches do not differentiate between the office of pastor and the office of elder. They reason that since pastor and elder are one and the same that there is no need to give one man the title of pastor. Some of these churches also rotate preaching responsibilities among their different elders. There are pros and cons to this approach.

    If an elder lead church does have the office of pastor, here is what I would tell a potential pastoral candidate. He needs to understand the dynamic between the pastor and the elder within that local church. What expectations do the elders have for the pastor? Are those expectations reasonable and biblical? Our Presbyterian brethren divide elders into two types: teaching elders (pastor) and ruling elders. Ruling elders may nor may not have teaching responsibilities in the church. However, the pastor is the main teaching elder. He is the one who will be in the pulpit on most Sundays.

    In Baptist circles, the office of elder is not exclusive to Calvinist or Reformed/Particular Baptist congregations, although you will find more elder lead churches among that group.

    I suppose a local church can flip flop between elders having spiritual oversight or the pastor filling that role. Typically deacons are responsible for more physical acts of ministry but many Baptist churches have expanded the role of deacon beyond what scripture assigns it. I believe elder-lead is the biblical model.
     
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  3. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    I belong to an elder-lead church.
    A while ago I was an active elder but obligations and health got in the way.

    Our constitution sets the parameters for elder-rule... what they can do and how they do it.
    There is a minimum of three elders, max of probably 10 or so, but in the time I’ve attended we’ve run between 3 and 5.

    We have two paid staff that are elders, our teaching pastor and our young adult, family pastor. The others are laymen with outside professions. Elders are voted on by the congregation every two years.

    Each elder has equal authority and power within the group; one vote in decision making.

    Originally the leadership of the group rotated between members. But in reality the paid staff who worked at the church knew so much more about the problems and concerns of the church that we decided to assign the teaching pastor the title of ‘Senior Pastor’. He now leads the elders meeting and sets the agenda.

    We also have deacons (men and women). They are chosen by the congregation and are tasked with specific duties at the elders choosing. They are leaders over an assigned functional duty. Deacons are voted on by the church and have an indeterminate time of assignment.

    Advise for someone candidating, read their constitution and understand it’s implications.

    Rob
     
    #3 Deacon, Nov 24, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2019
  4. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    In your question, what/who do you mean by elder? In our church an elder is an ordained minister. We are "elder led," but not "elder ruled."
     
  5. Martindr

    Martindr New Member

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    I grew up a PK so I saw a lot of southern Baptist churches and the best answer I got for why we have deacons rather than elders and a trustees committee rather than deacons is tradition and it makes people uncomfortable.
    I identify as more of a reformed Baptist and think it's best just to go back to how Paul said it should be done and have elders as leaders which include pastors, youth-pastors, music-ministers, and modern deacons. The main reason I see is so people don't get confused with what the qualifications and responsibilities of each group is.
     
  6. Shoostie

    Shoostie Active Member

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    There's no such thing as congregational rule, beyond voting for elders. All churches are ruled either by the pastor, a board of elders, or denominational officials outside of the congregation.

    Some Baptists quibble between elder-led and elder-ruled. But, in reality....
     
  7. Reynolds

    Reynolds Well-Known Member
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    Women deacons???
     
  8. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    There is a compelling (IMO) biblical case for female deacons but only if a church doesn't treat deacons as de facto elders.

    In the average Baptist church, deacons have authority. A woman should not be a deacon in that situation.

    If a church has elders in positions of authority and deacons do not have any authority, that's different. They may have areas of responsibility (as assigned/overseen by the elders), but I think, biblically, that the role of deacon is strictly to serve in a recognized but non-authoritative role. A female deacon would be well suited for a role of service in a church's women's ministry or children's ministry.

    Having a trusted female deacon (tested, approved, and overseen by the elders) in a position to counsel women in sensitive areas can be very helpful in avoiding questions of impropriety. You wouldn't have to deal with the awkward scenario of having a deacon bringing his wife along to discuss a matter with a single woman or with a married woman needing sensitive counsel. Sure, you could have a woman who isn't a deacon fill that role, but having a female deacon do it adds the protection that the person has been vetted and tested by the elders and also is under their supervision. If the female deacon determines that the elders should be involved, she can ask for their help.

    Churches that have a "deacon board" or something equivalent that effective serves as an oversight committee for the pastor are, in my view, operating unbiblically, but, if they are committed to that form of church government, they would not need women as "deacons," as the deacons in that church would be in a position of authority.

    If a church is elder ruled or led and the deacons have no oversight function and no authority (which is what I think the biblical model is), then I think both women and men can serve. (Although some positions of service would still not be appropriate for women-- a men's ministry, for instance.) I think one telling factor is that, biblically, deacons are not held to an expectation to be able to teach, whereas elders are. Deacons could serve in a teaching role, if the elders approve of it, and it is otherwise consistent with Scripture, but a deacon is not required to be capable of serving in a teaching role. One reason why I think Paul did not list a requirement for deacons to be able to teach is that women can serve in that role, and they wouldn't be in teaching roles.

    It is absolutely crucial on this issue to determine what a church asks a deacon to do. If all deacons are expected to serve in an authoritative role, then they should all be men.
     
  9. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    Elder rule is unbiblical. Elder lead is fine. Deacons with any authority is unbiblical. Neither should deaons be giving counsel. They serve table meaning they deal with physical needs of the church body. Nothing more.
     
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  10. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    Why would deacons not be able to provide Christian counsel? Any Christian can do that for another believer.
     
  11. Shoostie

    Shoostie Active Member

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    Your church sounds like a Presbyterian church, they way its government works.

    I don't think your church's labeling of some women as "deacons" is necessarily wrong, but I'm not comfortable with giving women that title. First, even if these women respect male headship, people generally see deacons as leaders, even if that's not at all the meaning of deacon, nor the function of deacons in your church. Second, verse 1 Timothy 3:12 seems limit the office to men.
     
  12. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    "Pastor" as a term can get so confusing in Baptist circles because most people are probably accustomed to seeing the "Pastor" as the man in the pulpit. Then when you have "Senior Pastor" as a title, it can mean a situation like you're describing or something else, including having the "Senior Pastor" as one who unilaterally can hire/fire other "pastors" or "ministers."

    From what I've seen, when a Baptist church implements biblical eldership, our terminology goes haywire! My church has multiple locations, which makes matters even more complicated (I know some object to that sort of church structure, and I understand.).

    We typically use "pastor" in the title for elders in paid ministry positions, but there is a qualifying adjective. For instance, we have a "Global Missions Pastor," which basically means he's an elder in a paid staff position overseeing our global missions work.

    We have three locations, and each location has a "Lead Pastor" who functions as the primary leader, and we also have a "Directional Pastor" who serves as an overall leader of the elder team (which consists of elders from all three locations). I know these terms are certainly extrabiblical, but I think it probably reflects a desire not to imply anything by using a "Senior Pastor" title.

    Those who are aware of the structure understand that the "Directional Pastor" and the "Lead Pastor" have titles reflective only of their functional roles. They are all elders in equal standing. Those in more prominent leadership positions have "first among equals" status to some degree, but they are in that position because of the elders' unanimous decisions to put them in those roles. I think it's analogous to the apostles--Peter was the primary leader (at least among the original disciples), but he wasn't by any means a "super apostle" or above correction (as Paul proved).
     
  13. Shoostie

    Shoostie Active Member

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    This is biblical: "Let the elders that rule..." That's even a KJV quote. The term for elders is used dozens of time in the NT, and most of the time it clearly implies leadership. Or, do you mean that you found someplace in the Bible that says a church should only have one elder, the one called a pastor (and then, what about the assistant pastor, etc.)?

    Where does the Bible limit the role of deacons to physical needs? Yes, waiting tables is physical, but I don't think that's the point of the passage. I think the point of the passage is that the Apostles had better use of their skills, so they should get help with things that others could handle well enough.
     
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  14. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    My position is more theoretical and personal to me. I don't know that my church has ever appointed any female deacons, and I suspect that some of our church leadership would likely oppose female deacons. They'd probably oppose it for the a reason you have proposed--perception of leadership.

    With respect to 1 Timothy 3:12, I think that's referring to deacons who are male. I think that 1 Tim. 3:11 is referring specifically to female deacons (not wives) and 1 Tim 3:12 is a reference to male deacons (who would obviously have a leadership role at home that women do not have). I do readily admit, though, that I could be wrong, and I'm by no means dogmatic on this issue. It does not bother me for a church not to have female deacons because I don't think a church is required to have any deacons at all. Elders are essential, but deacons are optional.

    In terms of government, my church definitely has a lot in common with Presbyterian churches. I like that. But I also believe that baptism is for believers only, and we shouldn't have an external presbytery.
     
  15. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    Nope if you do not know the difference between elder rule and elder lead then maybe you go study it and then come back.

    You can think all you want. The original setting up of deacons was clear.
     
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  16. Shoostie

    Shoostie Active Member

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    In Acts 6, a board of 12 episcopal bishops instructed a local church to appoint a board of deacons, so that the 12 bishops would be "free to preach the word of God" while the deacons waited on tables (the specific need at the time). You can take that to mean the bishops wanted to do everything except physical labor. Or, you can take that to mean the bishops wanted to be free to preach to word of God while capable men did everything else (and, maybe preaching, too, because there was more than 12 churches), physical or not.

    Elsewhere (Acts 14:23) the bishops themselves appointed elders. Others functioned as bishops and appointed "elders [plural] in every town", 1 Titus 5. every mention of elders in regards to individual churches seems to be plural. "The council of elders laid their hands on you." "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him." What am I missing?
     
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  17. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    It is best to stick with Bible terminology. The twelve in Acts 6 were apostles, not episcopal bishops. Further it is interesting that:
    The apostles led: Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
    The disciples chose: And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose...
    The apostles ordained: whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

    Elder plural? I agree.
     
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  18. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    Yes. The twelve are referred to as Apostles, not episkopos (bishops). They held a special office in the church that passed away upon their death.



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    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
     
    #18 Reformed, Nov 26, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2019
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  19. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    The context suggests deacons not elders. Though they could have been elders as well.
     
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  20. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Oh, I agree, the seven were not elders. I believe they were deacons. Sorry for the confusion. The last comment I made was only intended to agree with Shoostie's last paragraph that the New Testament speaks of elders in the plural. I can see that it needed more context! Thanks for the opportunity to clarify.
     
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