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What does an Elder do?

May 19, 2012

In yesterdays blog I mentioned the three words used for Elder. These words contain the clues we need to figure out what we as Church leaders should be doing:

Elder describes – somewhat obviously someone who is old. It shows that we bring our experience of life to the task we are called to do. In fact the bible is very specific, we should have experience of being able to manage our household well and have a good reputation. (1 Tim 3). So we as Elders are called to manage well. But managing a household is very different from managing a business – in a family the outcomes you want are maturity, peace, provision rather than widgets or services or whatever.

It is that household managing that the church needs. How often have churches rushed off to use business models, been successful in the short term and then lost the plot? We need to manage for maturity and growing the next generation organically not for growth (for growths sake). And don’t forget that in the same list of Elders requirements is that they are married (to one wife) and therefore able to handle that most intimate of relationships well.

Pastor is the same word as shepherd. The way we use the word today is all about social work and counselling (Pastoral care), it suggests that we should be spending time to listen to people and provide them with companionship in their isolation. This was what I tried to do as a full time pastor – and frankly, it very nearly killed me, we are Not supposed to be spending time propping people up – instead like a shepherd our task is to get sheep/people to the right pasture so that they can feed themselves!

Of course we need to care for the injured and protect the flock from danger, but having provided the help they need we are to move them on to feed themselves. Paul had no qualms about asking churches that could not afford it to be helping other churches

Bishop or Overseer. This word is all about taking responsibility to see what is happening, looking for the danger points – to protect from abuse, manipulation, false teaching, overwork, getting off message etc. It is about seeing where there are those who need someone alongside to strengthen and mentor them – it is much more about a football coach f=getting the best from his team, than a boss putting people to work!

Three little words – three big pointers. I am happier that I know what I need to do now.

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