Onward Community Church is led by a team of elders who are called to shepherd and oversee the church.
The Role of an Elder
Scripture on the role and qualification of elders: 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-16, Hebrews 13:17, Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:1-4
An elder is tasked by God to pray, care for, oversee, teach, and protect the church. Elders are presented in Scripture as those who lead God’s church in Word and prayer (Acts 6:2-5). By declaring the character and work of God, elders lead the community to submit to God’s reign and rule as revealed in his Word. They lead as “under-shepherds,” guiding people not to obey them, but rather, the Chief Shepherd. There are two major components to the work of elders in declaring the character and work of God: shepherding and overseeing.
Elders are called to counsel or instruct God’s people (His sheep) according to His Word, by equipping the saints through teaching God’s Word (Eph. 4:11-12), protecting the saints by guarding against false teachers and their teachings (Titus 1:9), and leading the saints as they pastor their own family (1 Timothy 3:4-5). The role of caring for the saints includes leading out in praying for the saints (James 5:14-16).
The elders are ultimately the men who are responsible to lead God’s church to keep faithful to the work of God’s mission (Acts 20:28). God mandated in 1 Timothy 3:4-5 and 1 Timothy 5:17 that the men who oversee His church, under His guidance, meet the character qualifications He established in Scripture. In 1 Timothy 3:1 Paul writes, 'the saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.' An elder, like all disciples, also includes being a chief servant (Mark 10:45).
All throughout the Old Testament, when people have been led astray and find themselves in painful places, God often refers back to the leadership that was not faithful to their calling as the start of the issue (Jer. 23:1-4, Ezek. 34:1-8). The importance of finding men who will be God-honoring elders is key to the life of Onward.
When putting someone forth as a candidate for elder, we carefully examine:
1. Character (a man above reproach): Using 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 as our guides, we go trait-by-trait to examine the life of the man. We look at:
- Talk with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and anyone else key in their life to determine their character as a man and follower of Christ
- Conversations with the elder candidate on their spiritual life
2. Competency (a man able to teach, guard against false doctrine, and shepherd the flock): An elder is called to teach, guard against false doctrine, and shepherd the flock. This takes skills including:
- Theological knowledge, practice, and application
- Margin: time to fulfill the role's many facets
- Pastoral and biblical counseling
- Able to teach and instruct from God’s Word
Generally, the process the elder team follows to install a new elder includes:
Step 1: Time studying God's Word together and getting to know one's leadership, family life, and spiritual life
Step 2: The candidate is presented before the Body to give the church a chance to ask questions, get to know them, and share any feedback.
Step 3:After a set period of time for the Body to consider the candidate, the current elders will install the new elder(s) before the whole church.
By studying the scriptures listed above, you'll see the importance of carefully adding elders to the life of a church. Please pray with us now that God would continue to bring faithful men to the role, continually maintain the unity and devotion of the elder team, protect us from any failings, and lead Onward Community Church to remain faithful to the work of God’s mission.
If you have any other questions on the role of an elder or the selection process, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org