By Frank Chesser
It is in God's will for the elders to oversee the worship, work and spiritual life of local congregations of the church. The Lord wants qualified "elders in every church" (Acts 14:23). God requires them to function as "overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28). Elders will "give account to God for each soul under their oversight (Heb. 13:17). As Moses feared and trembled at Mount Sinai (Heb. 12:21), so ought elders, considering their awesome responsibility before God, to be sober-minded and reverent.
The greatest single problem facing the church today is in the leadership. The pulpit is literally killing the church in many places. The answer to an insipid pulpit is a qualified eldership. Godly, truth-loving elders will demand a strong, Bible-centered pulpit. Preachers majoring in philosophy, human interest stories and current events will either shape up, move on or be moved.
A devout eldership is the answer to the great void of church discipline that is promoting sin and dulling the spiritual sensitiveness of the church. It takes elders with the courage of David to face this Goliath of sin and lead the church in withdrawing "from every brother that walketh disorderly" (2 Thess. 3:6).
A spiritual eldership is the answer to the loss of purpose in the church. Family life centers to play in, fellowship rooms to eat in, social events for the youth, and pleasure trips for the aged have supplanted God's mission to seek and save the lost. There is a time and place for fun and fellowship, but soul-conscious elders will lead the church in "converting the sinner from the error of his way" (James 5:20).
Every congregation is the lengthened shadow of its leaders. Speaking collectively, no congregation can exceed the summit of its leadership. Elders must lead. In matters of judgment, the idea of authority inheres within the eldership, but shepherding is more living and doing than decision making. Elders must be "examples to the flock" (1 Pet. 5:3). The real power of an elder's influence is not the whip-like sound of his authority, but the Christ-like nature of his life.
Published September 1996