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Elders, Part 3: Functions

In these articles we are attempting to present the Father’s perspective on those who care for His flock so that everyone in Gateway can participate in the selection of additional elders to serve our church community.

Elders carry weighty duties and responsibilities for which they will give account (Hebrews 13:17).

The first place elders exercise responsibility is in their own homes where they are to “manage their families ” and ensure their children are well behaved (I Timothy 3:4,5).   Hospitality is an important part of this call and the families of elders must set an example in it, having an open home and an open heart, especially towards strangers (I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8).

Elders must be able to teach  (I Timothy 3:2) and able to “give instruction in sound doctrine” (Titus 1:9).  They are called to “tend and shepherd the flock” (Acts 20:28) which, among other things, means to nourish and feed it from the Word of God.  In view of this, regular study of the Word of God is essential.  Elders who do this diligently are worthy of “double honour”, which implies that they can receive financial remuneration for their work (I Timothy 5:17,18).

Elders are “stewards” working for God (Titus 1:7) whose entrustment is the flock of God (I Peter 5:2) which they must “shepherd” with care since it was purchased “with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).  As a steward they can only “parcel out” or “distribute” that which comes from God, and so they must walk closely with the Lord in order to hear Him.

Elders must be givers, “working hard” and “helping the weak”, remembering that it is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:34, 35). They exercise oversight with loving care, not managerial duty or a sense of compulsion (I Peter 5:2-3).  In all things they are to set an example (I Peter 5:3).

Elders are called “to rule” (I Tim. 5:17), “to stand before” (Heb. 13:7,17) and ”to tend and shepherd” (Acts 20:28).  These words all imply correcting, disciplining, restoring, providing material assistance and encouraging.  All of these duties mean elders must be closely connected with the flock, “keeping watch” over them (Heb. 13:17) and, when they are sick, visiting, anointing and praying for their healing (James 5:14).

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