Summary: The importance and function of the eldership in the church. Includes ordination service of a newly-elected elder at the end of the message.


TEXT: 1 TIMOTHY 3:1-7; TITUS 1:6-9; 1 PETER 5:1-3; ACTS 20:28-31


INTRODUCTION: A. Two police officers respond to a call from the dispatcher concerning a bad traffic accident.

When they arrive on the scene, they find a father, mother, and two children

unconscious inside a wrecked automobile. Almost immediately after the officers

arrive, an ambulance pulls up and tells the officers that several more ambulances are

on the way.

After the other ambulances arrive and begin to load their patients, the officers

discover that there is a monkey inside the car and that the monkey is conscious,

though a little bruised up. Since the monkey is the only conscious passenger in the

car and there are no other witnesses to the accident, the officers decide they’ll try to

get the monkey to tell them what happened.

They ask the monkey, “What was the father doing?” The monkey mimics

drinking from a bottle. One of the officers said, “Makes sense.”

They ask the monkey, “What was the mother doing?” The monkey mimics

shaking his finger. “Okay. Now we’re getting somewhere. The father was drinking

and the mother was getting on him about it.”

They ask the monkey, “What were the children doing?” The monkey mimics the

children fighting in the back seat. The officers look at each other and one of them

says, “Well, with all that going on, it was inevitable that they were going to have a


The two officers turn to walk away when one of them turns around and asks the

monkey, “By the way, what were you doing the whole time?” The monkey mimics


1. Who is supposed to be steering the church?

--Who has God ordained to do the job?

2. The obvious answer from the New Testament pattern is the elders

--The elders are supposed to be in charge of steering the church

B. What is an elder?

--The original language of the New Testament uses three basic terms to refer to the

office of an elder:

1. Presbuteros – a term that signifies maturity

a. Not just maturity in age

--Sad to say, but maturity doesn’t always come with age

b. It’s a maturity of experience, wisdom, and discipline

2. Episkopos – “overseer”

a. Term used to refer to a manager or supervisor

b. Some modern synonyms would be director or superintendent

c. It’s another New Testament word that gives the same sense of meaning as


--“One who runs or oversees the master’s household”

3. Poimen – “shepherd”

a. One who leads, feeds, and protects the flock

b. Other significant translations use the term pastor

--The Latin word for “shepherd”

4. Alexander Strauch, Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church

Leadership, says that elders are “…a biblically qualified council of men thatjointly

pastors the local church.”

C. Simply put, elders are leaders

1. Joe Ellis, The Church on Purpose, Keys to Effective Church Leadership:

“Leadership is the function that fosters and maintains a congregation’s focus on the

divine purpose and promotes ration efforts to achieve it.”

2. Ellis also says that leadership in our congregations exists to hold the negative

influences and the processes which work against the divine purpose at bay.

3. Church leadership has to operate between two poles: the people on one side and the

goals on the other.

--Biblical leadership helps to move the body of people toward achieving the divine


4. How do elders function Biblically as leaders?

--According to the Bible, there are four primary ways for elders to serve as leaders


--by suitable, I mean “qualified”

A. The common mistake is for congregations to elect and appoint biblically unqualified people as elders (and

deacons, too)

1. They allow unprepared and unsuitable people to assume leadership positions within the congregation

2. This behavior has proven time and time again to be a formula for failure and disaster

3. When electing and appointing leadership, there are three important things to keep in mind:

a. Determination – do you want to?

--Are you willing to move into a leadership role

b. Desire – why do you want to?

--What are the reasons you want to be a leader?

c. Deportment – what qualifies you to do so?

--How do you show that you’re qualified to lead the church of Christ?

B. The apostle Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, was so concerned over this issue of qualified leadership that he

spelled out the qualifications in his first letter to Timothy and in his letter to Titus:

1. 1 Tim. 3:1-7 – “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a

noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate,

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