My Thoughts on Elder Leadership

Tomorrow we are having a historic vote in our church. The pastors unanimously (also the leadership team and deacons) are leading our church into voting for an Elder Leadership. Before this vote happens tomorrow, I just wanted to share my thoughts on it in case anyone is interested in what’s going on in this youth pastor’s head. My ultimate prayer is that we would not fight like the devil while we vote to glorify Jesus best in our church. Eph 4:3 is clear that the Spirit of God has already given us unity in our church, and its our job to simply maintain it. We cannot create unity because God has already blessed us with it through the gospel of Christ, but we can maintain the unity by being biblical, loving, honest, truthful, aboveboard, merciful, gracious, PEACEFUL, and kind even in matters where we may not agree. God, please do not allow us to fight like the devil while we are all making our own decision in this vote to lead this church like Jesus!

Here are 3 reasons why I am for Elder Leadership in my church:
1. A plurality of elders leading the church is biblical. Acts 14:23 tells us that Paul went around during his missionary and church planting journeys appointing elders (plural) to each church. The reason that is important is because many people believe churches should only have one elder/pastor. The biblical terms “elder”, “pastor”, “bishop”, “shepherd”, and “overseer” are all synonymous for the exact same biblical office. The only other office of the church is deacon, and that is a serving role while the elder/pastor office is a leading-teaching role. Our church does already have a plurality of elders/pastors. As of right now, we have 5 pastors on staff. 1 Timothy 5:17 says to pay your ruling pastors double (ha – it really does!) especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. While this post is nothing about money, this Scripture does say that pastors do rule (lead) the church, and that there are pastors/elders who labor in teaching/preaching…and those who don’t. 1 Peter 5 tells pastors not to lord their leadership over the flock, and 1 Timothy 3 says that every elder must be able to teach the church. So in view of all this, I believe that a plurality of elders/pastors should be in place to lead and feed the church in order for it to be a biblical church.

2. A plurality of lay elders leading the church is practical. People may be wondering, but this vote isn’t for a plurality of elders since we already have 5 pastors in place who are leading and feeding the church. True, this vote is all about adding lay elders to our existing elder/pastor team. I have heard statistics several times saying pastors can only effectively know and shepherd 150 people at a time. In other words, there should be at least one pastor to every 150 people in the church congregation. Right now we have 5 pastors and averaging about 850 people per Sunday. We just stretched our budget to bring on our 5th pastor, and our 5 pastors can effectively lead 750 people total (per the statistic). This means, we’re already running behind the curve. We have at least 100 people in our church who are not effectively being ministered to, and I guarantee you there are far more because we are so stretched. Some churches just hire way more pastors, but then that leaves less money for the ministries of the church to function well. I believe adding on biblically qualified and called lay elders to our existing elder/pastoral team is the answer. Ephesians 4:11 says that God gives “shepherds” to the church. I believe that there are qualified men in our church who are called to be elders/pastors/shepherds, but they don’t have an opportunity to do so. This will answer both our churches need for more shepherding/pastoral care as well as their calling to lead as elders.

3. A plurality of lay elders leading the church is rational. I have heard many questions concerning this decision being made by our church that I would love to answer on my own.

First, I’ve heard: “What’s wrong with the system that we’ve already have in place?” My answer to this question is…not much. Praise God for His grace in allowing our church to run smoothly with this system of paid pastor/elders only. But we never purely judge big decisions on that rationale alone. “Kids, daddy has been offered a better job with less hours with more money, but he’s turning it down because our life is fine the way it is.” Just because things are going good doesn’t mean they couldn’t be better. The question is not what is good and fine, the question is what is better, best, and most biblical.

Second, I’ve heard: “Doesn’t this model give the pastors/elders too much control?” This decision being made by our church is not an issue of “lording” (1 Peter 5:3), but of helping our current pastors to lead, shepherd, etc. These additional lay pastors are being chosen from our very own congregation. They work in many of the same buildings, holding down the same jobs, have similar backgrounds, and lead the same kinds of families as the rest of our congregation. Our pastoral team is wanting their insight, their accountability, their counsel, and their aid in helping us make the best biblical decisions for the leadership and direction of our church.

Those are my thoughts. I pray this helps you make the most biblical decision if you are a voting member. May God be glorified, may Jesus be honored, and may the Spirit be submitted to…not only in the decision we vote for, but also in how we go about it.

Only by His grace,
Pastor Chip

2 comments on “My Thoughts on Elder Leadership

  1. Chip, Thanks for your thoughts.
    I agree that elders are Biblical and should be the leaders of the church.
    My only concern is that the preacher is not an elder in the Bible. From my understanding of the Bible, God’s plan is to have a pastor, and elder board and deacon board. The preacher was to preach, Philippians 1:1 “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons[a]:”. This passage clearly defines preachers (Paul and Timothy) , elders and deacons.
    Again: 1 Timothy 4:12-14 (NIV) ” Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.” Elders laid hands on preachers. Preachers “job” is to preach the gospel of Christ. The Elders and Deacons have separate job descriptions.
    Barb DeFalco

    • Hey Mrs. DeFalco! I truly appreciate you responding with your honest thoughts and beliefs concerning our elder issue. I respect you for your opinion being from the Bible. Although, I’m going to have to disagree agree with you on this one. From all my study on pastors and elders, I have never seen any convincing Scripture forbidding the “preacher” to be an elder or pastor. First of all, “elder” and “pastor” are synonymous terms in Scripture. Therefore, you would be saying that the “preacher” cannot be a “pastor”, and our preacher is already our pastor at Capshaw. Also, there is not a term in the Bible that differentiates the “preacher” from the rest of the pastors. We normally call our senior pastors “preachers” today since that is what the church sees them doing most. In your Philippians 1 passage, Paul and Timothy are missionaries and church planters at Philippi…not pastors or elders of the church. They were not staying but going to the next church (Acts 16). From your 1 Timothy 4 interpretation, Timothy did become and elder when the elders laid their hands on him. That is a common practice of the church today for ordination. The ordained pastors/elders lays their hands in prayer on the elder/pastor candidate to set him a part (or ordain) him for the gospel ministry. 1 Timothy 5:17 does tell us that the preacher of the church is an elder. 1 Timothy 3:2 tells us that elders must be able to teach the church the Scriptures. 1 Peter 5:1-5, Peter tells the elders of the churches to shepherd the flock of God. Shepherding includes feeding which means preaching. Peter got this command directly from the Lord Jesus. Jesus told Peter in John 21:17-19 to FEED His sheep. So by the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter passed that command on from Jesus to the elders of the churches to shepherd (everything a shepherd should do) the flock of God…certainly including feeding them with the Word of God. Again, I appreciate your response and your desire to be biblical, but I whole-heartedly believe that the preachers of the church should be an elder/pastor.

      Only by His grace,
      Pastor Chip

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