Summary: A sermon on the elders responsibilities to their congregation (Much material taken from BIBLICAL ELDERSHIP by Alexander Strauch, Chapter 7 The Acts of the Apostles)
Lynn Anderson- Several years ago, Carolyn and I rode a tour bus through Israel's countryside, spellbound by Ahim, our unusually gifted tour guide. Ahim, who likes to laugh at himself, told how one of his tours fizzled. Ahim said he was reeling off his spiel about shepherds, who don't drive the sheep, they lead them, etc., etc., when he suddenly realized he had totally lost his audience. They were all pointing out the bus window at a man chasing a "herd" of sheep, siccing the dog on them, throwing rocks at them, and whacking them with sticks. "The sheep-driving man in the field," lamented Ahim, "torpedoed my whole fascinating story, metaphor and all." Ahim said at that point he jumped off the bus, accosted the man, and scolded him. "Do you understand what you have just done to me? I was spinning this charming story about the gentle ways of shepherds and here you are hazing and assaulting these sheep! What is going on?"
A bewildered look froze on the face of the poor fellow driving the sheep, then he blurted out, "Man, you've got me all wrong. I'm not a shepherd. I'm a butcher!" This poor fellow had just provided Ahim and all of us with a perfect example of what a “good shepherd” is not.
As Paul concluded his 3rd missionary journey and headed toward Jerusalem to arrive for the feast of Pentecost, his ship docked for several days in the harbor of Miletus to unload and load its cargo. Since Miletus is but 40 miles south of the city of Ephesus, Paul seized the opportunity to have the Ephesian elders to meet him in Miletus for a farewell. This is the only record of Paul speaking directly to elders.
Every elder should master the content of Paul’s message to the Ephesian elders.
Thesis: These verses give us the elders responsibility to the congregation.
The Elder’s Duty: Protect the Church- Acts 20:28
Keep watch- be on guard, pay strict attention, for yourselves and for all the flock.
The opposite would be to neglect the flock, to be inattentive, or to be preoccupied with other matters so as to be unaware of the problems and dangers confronting the flock.
To fulfill this task, the elders must be vigilant with their own spiritual condition. As elder cannot guard the spiritual lives of others if he cannot guard his own soul.
Elders must do whatever is necessary to guard their daily walk with God. They must faithfully engage in daily prayer and Scripture reading.
Elders also must guard against being ensnared by the pleasures and cares of this world.
They must guard against bitterness of heart, discouragement, spiritual laziness, and unbelief. They must keep their minds and hearts fixed firmly on Jesus Christ.
The elders must guard all the flock, that is, the local Christian congregation. Paul describes the local church as a flock of sheep that the elders are to shepherd and, especially, to protect from wolves. The sheep shepherd image beautifully illustrates the church’s need for leadership and protection. As essential part of this is the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd. Because sheep are defenseless, an unguarded flock is in danger.