Elders in the Church


  1. Plurality – Although it is true that a new or small congregation may actually be without an elder (Acts 16:40) or may only have a single individual with the gifts requisite to his being recognized as an elder, the Scriptures indicate that normally there should be a plurality of elders in the local church (Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1; James 5:14). These men are called overseers because they have oversight of the assembly (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2; Hebrews 13:17). They are called pastor-teachers because they have been given to the church for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry by way of shepherding and teaching the flock (Ephesians 4:11-12; Acts 20:28). Though the elders shall be equal in authority they may be specialized in function as it is recognized that God gifts and burdens each man in different ways and measures.
  2. Qualifications – The qualifications for a man chosen to fill the office of elder are clearly set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, and various other portions of Scripture. Any man called to the eldership must be able conscientiously to affirm his agreement with and support of the “Statement of Faith” and the constitution of our church. Should he at any time move from his positions, he is under the spiritual and moral obligation to make this fact known to the other elder(s) and/or church. In the event of irreconcilable differences he may be required to step down from his office.
  3. Responsibilities – All elders are pastors of the flock (Acts 20:28). They are responsible for the oversight and shepherding of the flock. They shall give account to God for the performance of their ministries (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:2-3). While every elder must be able to teach (1Timothy 3:2), some will be more engaged in formal and public teaching while others will be more engaged in private teaching, admonishing and governing (1 Timothy 5:17).
  4. Support – In view of the fact that the responsibilities of the eldership are numerous and great, the Scriptures make provision for the financial support of elders. 1 Timothy 5:17 encourages the support of elders that rule well (oversight) but especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. Thus a congregation may support more than one elder in the various duties of that office but should place priority on the teaching function.
  5. Election – The normal procedure in the New Testament for the selection of elders is the process of recognition (Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 3:1-13). For this reason, the congregation normally will look first among its own members for elders; however, the Lord may present the opportunity for the church to acquire elders from outside the congregation. In such a case, extreme caution should be used to avoid introducing an unqualified man into the leadership of the church. Consent must be secured from any individual being considered for the eldership before his name is presented to the congregation for consideration. The nominee and date of the vote will be announced on at least four consecutive weeks at regular meetings prior to a congregational vote. At least three-fourths or 75 percent majority will be required for approval of the nominee to take up the office.
  6. Ordination – In a regular or specially scheduled meeting of the church, the individual having received the confirmation of the congregation shall be ordained by the existing eldership of the church and/or elders from other churches. The hands of all participating elders shall be laid upon the new elder and prayer offered in his behalf (Acts 6:6; 13:3; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6).
  7. Length of Service – The Holy Spirit equips and places elders in the church (Acts 20:28). Therefore, the church will not arbitrarily fix either the number of elders or their term of service.