the weblog of Alan Knox

Responsibilities and Expectations of Elders

Posted by on Jul 10, 2008 in elders, office | 3 comments

I recently came across this generic “job description” for pastors (elders). I think it is a good representation of what is expected of “pastors” in the modern church:

  1. Plan and conduct the worship services; prepare and deliver sermons; lead in observance of ordinances.
  2. Lead the church in an effective program of witnessing and in a caring ministry for persons in the church and community.
  3. Visit members and prospects.
  4. Conduct counseling sessions; perform wedding ceremonies; conduct funerals.
  5. Serve as chairman of the Church Council to lead in planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, and evaluating the total church program.
  6. Work with deacons, church officers, and committees as they perform their assigned responsibilities; train and lead the deacons in a program of family ministries.
  7. Act as moderator of church business meetings.
  8. Cooperate with associational, state, and denominational leaders in matters of mutual interest and concern; keep the church informed of denominational development; represent the church in civic matters.
  9. Serve as chief administrator of the paid church staff; supervise the work of assigned paid staff workers.

As you read through that list, which items are scriptural responsibilities of elders alone – meaning that the items are not required of other believers? What do you expect of elders that you don’t expect of other believers? Why?


3 Comments

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  1. 7-10-2008

    My expectation are changing daily.

  2. 7-10-2008

    Alan, as I continue to read your blog and the scriptures (not necessarily in that order)I find the dividing line between the average believer and church leaders to be increasingly blurry.

  3. 7-12-2008

    Alan,

    I think that in life in general, in practically all activities that are undertaken, there are certain “responsibilities and expectations” that go along with certain “roles” of different individuals. For example, in a classroom, you generally know who is the teacher, and who are the students, and what are the general “responsibilities and expectations” of each. At a shop, you know who are the shoppers, who is the sales clerk, and what are the “roles, responsibilities, and expectations” of each. Etc, etc.

    Evidently, the specific list you provide here points to a rather institutional, programmatic approach to church life. That, for me, though perhaps related, is a separate issue.

    But, I think it is helpful that certain individuals in the Body, and in the everyday life of a local gathering of believers, take on certain “roles” with recognized “responsibilites and expectations.” If not, everyone is wondering who is supposed to do what. And, as a result, a lot of things that ought to be done get left undone. And, a lot of people get uptight, because they don’t know what’s going on.

    I am thinking that I would define “responsibilities and expectations of elders” as taking on the role of those who are specifically recognized as having the responsibility of coordinating the efforts of helping each member to better carry out his/her role in the Body. This doesn’t exonerate others from taking initiative, and serving, and ministering as the Spirit guides them. But, it does help to facilitate group life.

    Also, beyond the qualifications of spiritual maturity and setting a good example for others to follow, it seems to me that giftedness plays a role as well. There are some that are more gifted at leading out in facilitating the organization and implementation of certain activities. It just makes sense that we should allow those who are more gifted in this area to put their giftedness to use. Also, the Bible indicates that elders should generally be gifted in teaching. While there should definitely be a place and time for others to teach, I think the teaching reponsibility of elders in a local congregation to be greater than that of other members. Though, there may, at times, be those who are gifted at teaching, but not at leadership, in the way I describe it here. These individuals (if their testimony and spiritual maturity level merits it) should probably be given ample opportunity to put their teaching gifts into practice, as well.