bits from bob....

The Elders Have a Responsibility

by Robert J. Young
©, 2002, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]
"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account.... (Heb. 13:17)

An article by Lynn Parker motivated reflection upon important biblical truths regarding leadership. The burden placed upon God's under-shepherds is the task of watching, being alert and vigilant on behalf of the flock, acting in our interests, and for your spiritual welfare. Men who serve as elders will one day answer for their discharge of their responsibility in this service. I have never known an elder, nor an eldership, that were "busybodies." The faithful accomplishment of their task involves inquiry. Elders have a responsibility to inquire.

1. Elders should inquire into the spiritual well-being of their flock. Elders should take the lead as spiritual men in addressing apathy, immorality, and any other sin that overtakes us (Gal. 6:1- 6). They have the responsibility of inquiring into lifestyles and beliefs. Elders not only have the right, but the responsibility of inquiring into the causes of absenteeism.

2. Elders have the responsibility to inquire and act for the protection of the flock. Many are surprised to learn that the church is commanded to withdraw fellowship from a covetous brothers (1 Cor. 5:11). This sin may cause a soul to be lost, thus shepherds have an obligation to inquire concerning our giving and use of material wealth. Elders who encourage church to meet budgets and support works generously are accepting a responsibility, not "hounding" or "meddling."

3. Elders have the responsibility of feeding the flock (Acts 20:28). In this capacity, elders have the right to determine the beliefs and teachings of those who teach and preach. They have the responsibility of examining the mission and benevolent works the church may support. Elders have the responsibility of making certain the "food" being eaten is healthy, and nourishing, and that it contributes to spiritual growth, both in knowledge and in action. Elders have the responsibility of asking about our prayer life, our relationship with God, our Bible study habits, and our spirituality. They have the responsibility of encouraging spiritual growth in a positive way. Logic and living, creed and conduct, plea and practice must match. Elders ought to know.

4. The rights and responsibilities of every eldership stop at the limit of the flock over which God has placed them. Elders have no responsibility to reprimand nor "line up" other elderships. Church autonomy must be respected. Elders must not attempt to control other churches. Those efforts in the first two centuries of Christian history led to unscriptural organizational patterns.

"I don't think the elders understand their responsibilities" is a statement that has been made many times. Read Hebrews 13:17 carefully. It is not about elders' responsibilities--it is about individual Christian responsibilities. The truths of this article must be understood, but Hebrews 13:17 speaks to you and to me. The next article will ask about our roles: "The Members Have a Responsibility."

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Last updated January 2, 2002.