Elders

The responsibility of elders as laid out in the New Testament is to oversee the flock of God among them, watching on behalf of their souls while being careful to always remain aware that they will give account to the Lord for their actions & decisions during their time as an elder of the church (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:2).

Paul gave to Timothy & Titus each a list of the qualifications for elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). In order for a Christian male to become an elder in his local congregation, he must possess the following characteristics as laid out by Paul (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9, ESV): a desire to be an elder, blameless/above reproach, husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach the Bible to others, not a drunkard, not violent, gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money/greedy, must manage his household well with dignity, has faithful Christian children, not a recent convert to the church, thought well of by those outside of the church, not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination, must not be arrogant, not quick-tempered, a lover of good, upright, holy, disciplined, & he must hold firm to the word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine & also that he may be able to rebuke those who contradict it.  On one occasion, when Paul was in the city of Miletus, he called for the elders from Ephesus to come meet with him (Acts 20:17). Among the many things that Paul said to these men was this, "Pay careful attention to yourselves & to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. ” (Acts 20:28, ESV).

These specially qualified men are referred to by a number of descriptive terms & phrases. They are referred to as elders (also translated presbyters - Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 4:14; Titus 1:5), overseers (also translated bishop - 1 Timothy 3:1-2; Titus 1:7), & shepherds (also translated pastor - Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 5:2). These men are further defined as those who labor among you, & are over you in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:12) & as those who watch out for your souls (Hebrews 13:17). The terms elders, presbyters, overseers, bishops, shepherds, or pastors are used interchangeably to refer to the same group of men in the local congregations of the Lord's church. No specific age limit is given, but these men must be old enough to meet the specific qualifications laid out for them.

Since these terms are specific & apply to this certain group of men it is incorrect to misuse them. The word pastor, for example is frequently misused & applied to a minister of church. As was noted earlier, when Paul gave the list of qualifications to Timothy (1 Timothy 3:1-8), he described the office to which he was referring as the office of a overseer (v.1). When he gave the same list of qualifications to Titus (Titus 1:5-9) he described the same office or group of men, as elders or bishops. On one occasion, when Paul was in the city of Miletus, he called for the elders from Ephesus to come meet with him (Acts 20:17). Among the many things that Paul said to these men was this, "Pay careful attention to yourselves & to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. ” (Acts 20:28, ESV).

The apostle Peter also wrote a passage where he used all three of the terms & applied them to the elders. Peter wrote, “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder & a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. "(1 Peter 5:1-4, ESV). Here again we have Biblical reference to the elders being instructed to shepherd & oversee the flock that is among them. We also see that Peter refers to himself as a fellow elder. Peter was able to refer to himself as an elder because he obviously met the qualifications & had been appointed to that office by the congregation which he was a part of. Timothy, Titus, & Paul, on the other hand, were mentioned many times as localized gospel preachers/evangelists, but they were never referred to as pastors, bishops, or elders.

It is God’s intention that every congregation of the church of Christ should appoint qualified elders to oversee & shepherd the church. To further support this, we are given numerous examples of established congregations that had appointed elders in the New Testament. We know, for example, that the church in Jerusalem had appointed elders (Acts 11:30; Acts 15:2; Acts 21:15-18). We also know that the church in Ephesus had appointed elders (Acts 20:17; 1 Timothy 3:1-8; 1 Timothy 5:1, 1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Timothy 5:19). Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders in every city (Titus 1:5). We also know that there were elders in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) & in Philippi (Philippians 1:1). We know that it was the practice of Paul to appoint elders in every church that he helped to establish (Acts 14:23).

It is also God’s intention that there should be more than one elder in each congregation. We know that the church in Jerusalem had a plurality of elders overseeing the work of the church there (Acts 15:2, Acts 15:6), as did the church in Philippi (Philippians 1:1), Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 5:12), Ephesus (Acts 20:17), & so on. We know that Paul commanded Titus to appoint elders (plural) in every city (Titus 1:5), & Paul & Barnabas appointed elders (plural) in every congregation (Acts 14:23). It does happen sometimes, though, that a congregation of only a few members does not have any qualified men to serve as elders. In this case, it is better for a congregation to not have elders rather than for them to appoint men as elders who are not qualified.

The church of Christ at Center Grove currently is under the oversight of three elders:

Carl Call

Carl Call
(931) 268-2040
(931) 260-5311
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Sjon Gentry

Sjon Gentry
(931) 268-3273
(931) 397-2999
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John Mabery

John Mabery
(931) 268-0651
(931) 265-3835
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