Please note that this is not "law", but it is a revealing of the word, the grace and the Spirit of the true elder Jesus Christ and provides us with a basis for understanding by the Holy Spirit.Gary S Brooks, Apostle, TH.D
For Current or Prospective Elders
Definition of an Elder
Hebrew: zaqen: old, aged, ancient, elder, an aged man.
Greek: presbuteros: older, a senior, elder.
Webster's Dictionary: one that has authority by virtue of age and experience.
The word "elder" is not necessarily a title, but rather describes the office. Remember that this is an office, not a 5-fold gift ministry of an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher. Neither is it a call of God, for an Elder is approved by the Spirit and appointed by men. Your Pastor appoints you (in an Apostolic presbytery) and therefore may also disappoint you.
An Elder is one whose ministry is that of oversight in his Church family. This ministry is described also in the office of a Bishop, yet separate from, for a Bishop has oversight over the Church. An elder functions in administration and by giving leadership in the Church in the ministry of the Word and by works of faith. An elder is a member of the Body of Christ and is a representative of his brethren to God, and is a representative of God to his brethren, and is thereby in the place of intercession as a priest. An elder is an older brother or sister in his or her Church family that he or she is a part of. An elder is recognized in the Spirit as being an aged or mature one in Christ (not necessarily aged in chronological years). He or she is one that has been proved and found faithful, and is anointed by the Holy Spirit, Who has worked within the frame of the Elder the needed measure of grace, love, understanding, wisdom, experience, knowledge etc., to truly be a leader and an example in the House of God in word, deed, and truth.
Choosing of an Elder
Numbers 11:16-17, 24-25 (read)
16. And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.
17. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I WILL TAKE OF THE SPIRIT WHICH IS UPON THEE, AND WILL PUT IT UPON THEM; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.
It is true that in every house, both spiritual and natural, that the spirit of that house (its flavour and flow) is unique and is seen in the one or ones who are the authority of that house. Christ is the Head of His church and He is also the Father's House. So when the day of Pentecost had fully come Christ sent His Spirit (the Spirit of the House) with the intent to rest upon and empower those whom He had sent to be witnesses unto Him. In the same way the "spirit of the house" rests upon the sent/set man, the Pastoral leader. That same spirit must rest upon each Elder to enable them to bear the burden and that they may walk in agreement (from their hearts) with the word and ministry of their Pastoral leader and in its administration among their church family. The Lord, therefore, takes of the Spirit which is upon the the one whom He had sent and set in the house, and puts that same spirit of the house upon those that would be ordained as Elders.
Acts 20:17-28 KJV (read)
28. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which THE HOLY GHOST HAS MADE YOU OVERSEERS, to feed the church of God, which He has purchased with His own blood.
There are no "Lone Rangers" in the Kingdom of God. No one, by an act of his own will, may receive this appointment unto himself, it is only by the approving of the Holy Spirit, Who will reveal this approval to the potential Elder's Pastoral leader, and will be recognized and confirmed by "seasoned ministry" along with any other Elder in his church family. A potential Elder will also conduct himself, in his lifestyle, as an Elder before he is ordained. Through prayer and by the laying on of hands of his or her church leadership (presbytery), the Elder is confirmed by the Holy Ghost and publicly established among his brethren.
Qualifications of an Elder
Titus 1:5-9 KJV (read), 1 Timothy 3:1-7 KJV (read)
Please note once again that an Elder is an overseer whose ministry qualifications are similar to that of the office of a bishop, yet the Elder is not a Bishop for that is yet another appointed office. Yet the definition of the word "bishop" (superintendent, overseer, one who looks diligently to take the oversight) defines what an Elder does in his or her local church setting.
1. MUST BE BLAMELESS: His lifestyle must not contradict this appointment, disqualifying himself as an example to be followed.
2. THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE: In some cultures a plurality of wives is legal and acceptable, but would hinder a potential Elder by restricting his time and attention in performing his responsibilities to the church. Marriage exemplifies the relationship of Christ the husband with the Church, His wife. The Elder, if married, will portray a tangible example of this Holy union of one.
3. ONE THAT RULES WELL HIS OWN HOUSE: A child's behavior reflects their training and environment. An Elder must have faithful children (those in his own household), submitted with loving, reverential respect. Though they may make mistakes, they prove to be obedient, evidence that the Elder knows how to care for the House of God.
4. BLAMELESS AS THE STEWARD OF GOD: An Elder walks in integrity in financial matters. He is consistently faithful to the new testament ministry of the giving of tithes and offerings in his local church. He is a wise administrator of his Lord's money in personal affairs and that of the church, that he nor the church may be blamed.
5. NOT SELF-WILLED: An Elder realizes that his own will, that which pleases him, cannot govern his life. He has been apprehended to delight in the will of the Lord and live the life of a servant to God and his people.
6. NOT SOON ANGRY: Not cranky and short-fused, not easily moved. He is not hasty in his heart to be angry, but according to the grace God gives him, he displays that same grace and mercy to others.
7. NOT GIVEN TO WINE: He does not knowingly give himself to any substance, alcohol or non- prescriptive drug that will impair, intoxicate, injure, or diminish his capabilities or performance, understanding his body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
8. NO STRIKER: Does not strike back. A disposition that is non-defensive. Not having an aggressive, quarrelsome, non-submissive, contentious attitude that is fond of fighting and arguing. The servant of the Lord must not strive.
9. NOT GIVEN TO FILTHY LUCRE: An Elder cannot be bought with money for he is already bought with the price of the blood of Jesus. His motives are pure. He is moved by what he can give, not by what he can get. His delight is in the increase of Christ.
10. A LOVER OF HOSPITALITY: An Elder shows a gracious, friendly and welcoming heart towards all his guests, whether they be friends or strangers, minister or layperson and sincerely takes pleasure in their fellowship in Christ and in serving them. He has the heart of the good Samaritan.
11. A LOVER OF GOOD MEN: An Elder is compassionate towards all men, yet disapproves of wickedness. He rejoices in that which conforms to the example of the goodness of God, as seen in Christ, and is a follower and promoter of that which is good. He is fond of them that follow the same path.
12. SOBER: Sober minded. His mind is disciplined to think with the mind of Christ, a sound mature mind. He is alert to lies and deceptions that would poison his thoughts. He has the heart of a watchman. He is marked by his serious character. He has become a man and has put away childish behavior.
13. JUST: He exhibits the right blend of love, grace, discernment and wisdom necessary in making right decisions or judgments without bias or favoritism with all parties involved, and stays free from a critical, condemning attitude. For every situation, he seeks only the heart and mind of the Lord, Who alone is the Just One and Who deals fairly with every person and in every circumstance.
14. HOLY: One who wholly devotes his life as a living sacrifice unto the Lord. Obvious through his separation from the evil that is in the world and of his separation unto God. He is led by the Holy Spirit in the affairs of this life. He follows the Lamb wherever and however He leads him and he loves not his life unto the death. This is manifested by the Spirit of Holiness present upon his life.
15. TEMPERATE: He exercises self-control. He shows restraint in appetites and desires through moderation. He is calm, unhurried, and is not given to shows of excessive or extreme displays of emotion. He possesses stability in Christ, yet remains flexible to His leading.
16. HOLDING FAST THE FAITHFUL WORD: An Elder is rooted in loyalty and consistency in his relationship with the Father. He is established in sound doctrine. His life shows full support and confidence in the Word which he has been taught, being convinced by the Spirit of truth and through his Shepherd's example and preaching of the mystery of Christ in us. He has proven and learned to believe and to trust the Word from the mouth of his Pastor/Shepherd.
17. VIGILANT: An Elder is alert, awake and watchful in the Spirit. He remains Spiritually prepared through his daily communion with the Holy Spirit. He is given to prayer and intercession and meets regularly with the Lord. He stays vigorous and roused with a fresh anointing each day.
18. OF GOOD BEHAVIOR: One who lives an orderly life. He is regulated and governed by the principles of the Kingdom of God. He is submitted to divine authority. He is a good follower and therefore will make a good leader.
19. APT TO TEACH: He possesses good communicative abilities. He is able to express and/or teach the Word through revelation coupled with experience. He is a good instructor because he has first been instructed. He doesn't desire to be seen of men, but desires truth in their inward parts.
20. PATIENT: Longsuffering. He has great endurance in hardships and times of straitness and afflictions. He keeps a joyful expectation in adverse circumstances having learned both to be abased and to abound, but in all things therewith be content and wait patiently for the end of the Lord, Who is working all things together for good. He exhibits this patience with all men, but especially with his brethren, waiting for Christ to be formed in them and appear. He has the patience of the Spirit working in his frame.
21. NOT A BRAWLER: Peaceable. A tangible peace is realized when in the presence of an Elder. He is at peace with God, he lives in peace and is a peacemaker. He is meek, mild and of a gentle, kind disposition.
22. NOT COVETOUS: An Elder is not controlled by the love of money which is the root of all evil. He resists worldly fame and fortune and is submitted to the Lord Who gives him richly all things to enjoy. His heart is after God, not the blessings. He is not jealous of his neighbor's prosperity. He is at rest and does not want, because the Lord is his Shepherd.
23. NOT A NOVICE: Not a newly planted, young convert. One who has not yet been broken cannot handle the office. He is not yet mature and will be inflated with pride. He must first fall on the Rock and be broken and submit to the processing of the Lord to become the leader that God desires.
24. HE MUST HAVE A GOOD REPORT: He must have an honorable reputation with those outside of the church. He may have enemies, but their respect should not be an issue, that he, nor the church, may be unjustly held in reproach.
Responsibilities of an Elder
Before we proceed with this section, let it be noted that not all Elders function as a 5-fold ministry gift of an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher, but all who do function in the 5-fold ministry are to be honored as Elders. Yet without being appointed to the office in their local church family, then he or she may not function in the delegated authority of an Elder in their church family.
Elders give oversight and leadership in their church. There are many needs in the church and therefore a diversity of administrations to be fulfilled. The job description of one Elder may differ from another, but there are common qualifications and responsibilities that are shared by each one.
Please read the following verses: Acts 20:28 KJV, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14 KJV, 1 Timothy 5:17-19 KJV, Titus 1:5-9 KJV, 1 Peter 5:1-4 KJV, James 5:14-15 KJV
1. FEED THE FLOCK: Tend to the church as a shepherd does for his sheep. Be a faithful and wise servant giving proper nourishment to the flock, that will cause growth to full age. The Chief Shepherd lovingly cares for His sheep and an Elder will reflect His nurturing of the sheepfold.
2. TAKE THE OVERSIGHT: Oversee the flock as a caring parent does his children. Not because it is necessary and compulsory, but willingly and joyfully from the heart, receiving it as an honor to be chosen by God to do so.
3. BE AN EXAMPLE: Be an living example for the sheep to follow, rather than demanding obedience by a heavy ruling hand. Remember these are the sheep of His pasture, it is His inheritance, not the Elder's. Sheep will follow after the influence of their shepherd, natural children imitate their parents, and so will His sheep follow and imitate the example you set before them.
4. ADMONISH: It is the responsibility of an Elder to caution, warn, and sometimes mildly rebuke and reprove those in his care. The heart in it is to bring awareness of impending danger to the one missing the mark and to put them in mind to follow the right way. This is accomplished out of love, in the spirit of meekness, bringing restoration and forgiveness.
5. WATCH FOR THEIR SOULS: An Elder is accountable to the Lord to watch for the souls among the sheepfold that he is a part of. As a Watchman he is vigilant to speak the word into their hearts and to cover their lives with a blanket of prayer and intercession.
6. LABOR IN THE WORD AND DOCTRINE: An Elder must be continually spending quality time in the Word, receiving fresh manna from the Lord to give as bread for His people.
7. PRAY FOR THE SICK: An Elder by virtue of his appointment and anointing of power upon his life from the Holy Spirit, prays for the sick, and the prayer of faith, that is responding to the faith of the one who is sick, brings healing from the Lord.
The Identity of an Elder
1 Peter 2:25 KJV
For we were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the SHEPHERD and BISHOP of your souls.
1 Peter 5:1-4 KJV
1. The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3. Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4. And when the CHIEF SHEPHERD shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Chief Elder, Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. Therefore every Elder realizes he is not that One, but is a vessel by which "The Elder" expresses Himself. It is of the utmost necessity for every Elder to be identified in Him that Christ may truly have the oversight and give leadership in the church.