Lionel at “A Better Covenant” has written an excellent post called “Elder’s Responsibility: Heart Intimacy.” If you don’t read anything else about leadership among the church, read Lionel’s post. He concludes that the main responsibility for elders is something he calls “heart intimacy”:
So what are elderâ€™s roles? Plain and simple â€œheart intimacyâ€. They are to cultivate intimacy within the body by living an intimate life (hospitality) and a morally upright life (the qualifications) and then teaching others by both word and deed (a qualfication of him being able to teach). They are to be examples of: Mutual Understanding, Deeping Committment and Personal Sharingâ€.
Elders (Pastors) are to go before the church in developing the family atmosphere, cultivating love, stimulating mutual edification and finally producing an atmosphere of openness, in order that people begin to love one another from the heart and be conformed to Christâ€™s image! These are roles of elders, but too often they are stuck in â€œbusiness meetingsâ€ or meeting with architects, or they are the bodyâ€™s local business man and his biblical roles and functions become a distant second in his overall responsibilities.
I think Lionel is correct! Elders, as mature believers and examples to others, are to lead by loving, serving, and caring. If these are not first, then all the teaching, preaching, administration, planning, etc. will be worthless. Without “heart intimacy” the elders may create a great organization, but it will look very little like the church of Jesus Christ.
Of course, this is the main problem. Many churches have already created an atmosphere where elders are not allowed to develop discipling relationships with other people, because they are kept too busy doing other stuff. Of course, some elders (pastors) think the other stuff is their primary responsibility. They never get around to the “heart intimacy” (and some are taught to stay away from it) because of all the other stuff.
And all the other stuff is just other stuff.