1. No people will ever rise above their leaders.
a. This truth is especially relevant for the Lord's Church.
1) Strong leaders .......... produce strong churches.
2) Weak leaders ............ produce weak churches.
b. Regardless of TYPE, the church will always have leaders!
1) Human nature demands it.
2) Whether good/bad will depend on other factors.
c. God (knows our needs) has called forth quality ldrs for his people.
1) Evangelists ....... establish, set in order, nurture.
2) Elders ............ guide, counsel, oversee.
3) Deacons ........... assist in on-going ministry.
4) Older women ....... teach younger women way of the Lord.
2. Tonight we want to explore the work of one of those groups ... ELDERS.
a. Why study the Eldership?
1) Single most important office in an est., growing church like K.
2) This church needs more elders!
b. Format: "What is an Elder? (3 Greek words).
1) All 3 words found in Acts 20.
2) More than titles, descriptions of their function.
I. AN ELDER IS ....... AN ELDER (Acts 20:17).
A. Greek word is PRESBUTEROS .
1. Word "Presbyterian" comes from this word.
2. Basic idea is one who is older as compared with being younger.
a. General sense ....... Luke 1:18; 1 Tim. 5:1.
b. Specific sense ...... Acts 20; 1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1.
B. Older men (age/experience) naturally looked to for leadership.
1. Jewish culture:
a. Governed towns ("city fathers") and Synagogues.
b. Even 12 tribes had elders--1 Sam. 30:26--"Elders of Judah."
2. How old did one have to be to be an elder/leader in Israel?
a. Qumran community (Essenes) = 30.
b. Rabbis, even Jesus, began ministry at 30.
c. FOOTNOTE: Lk. 2:52-- helikia --cf. Jn. 9:21; Luke 3:23.
3. What about now?
a. No specific age is given in Scripture.
b. In our culture 30 is probably too young.
C. What is all this age/experience good for?
1. For making decisions ..................... wise decisions!
2. In ANY group (fam., chrch, nat.) "the buck" must stop somewhere.
a. Some decisions are clear ..... others matters of judgment.
b. Illust . Decision about D-Day. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Only he could make it--scene from "Longest Day." Written statement he had in pocket: "Landings have failed. Many brave men have died. If there is any blame to be attached, I and I alone am responsible."
c. An elder needs that sense of decision-making responsibility.
II. AN ELDER IS ....... AN OVERSEER (Acts 20:28a).
A. Greek word is EPISKOPOS .
1. "Episcopal" comes from this word (also "bishop").
2. From EPI = on or over; SKOPEO = to look, watch, see.
3. Idea is that of a guardian, superintendent, manager.
B. If "Elder" refers to decision-making function, "Bishop"/"Overseer" refers to delegating (management) function.
1. No eldership is capable or ought to make ALL decisions.
a. Spend all time on only one aspect of work.
b. Delegation is the answer (Ex. 18:13-28).
2. Delegation accomplishes three (3) things:
a. Elders are freed up to fulfill other aspects of work.
b. The work gets done & receives attention it deserves.
c. Saints are "equipped for the ministry" (Eph. 4:12).
III. AN ELDER IS ....... A SHEPHERD (Acts 20:28b).
A. Greek word is POIMEEN .
1. No English words are derived from POIMEEN .
2. Translated "shepherd" or "pastor."
3. If PRESBUTEROS refers to decision-making; EPISKOPOS refers to delegation; POIMEEN refers to the nature of his work.
B. Most powerful image of the work of an Elder.
1. Long before NT the relationship between a Shepherd and his Sheep was illustrative of the leaders of God's people (Ezek. 34:2-4).
2. Shepherds lived with their sheep (Luke 2:8).
3. Shepherds protected sheep from danger (1 Sam. 17:34-37).
4. Shepherds are concerned with EACH sheep (Luke 15:4-7).
5. Jesus the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18)--not hireling, dies!
6. Peter's charge to Elders (1 Pet. 5:1-4).
1. As Paul said, "If any man desire the work of an overseer, he desires a good work" (1 Tim. 3:1).
2. What is an elder? (Stamford CT, bulletin, July 26, 1987)
"An elder is a husband, a father, a son, a son-in-law, a disciple of Christ, and a guardian of the faith. He leaves for work each morning as early as anyone does and returns home as late . . . but then he heads for the church building or prepares for evening guests. When the building's open, he's there. He leads study groups. He nurtures a young convert. He prepares a Sunday morning class. Then late Sunday evening you'll often find him still at our building, planning, dreaming, and praying for our common future. Some weeks he devotes parts of almost every day to working directly in God's kingdom. He's called on to be a referee, a diplomat, a lawyer, a psychologist, a judge, a sounding board, a friend. "And he bleeds like everyone else! He's no physically healthier than any of us. His privacy needs are just as strong. He has good days and bad days at home . . . and at work. He enjoys no moratorium on parental anxieties. His things break down just like yours. He wonders just like you where the money will come from. His future is no more certain than yours; but somehow by the grace of God he adds to his concerns yours. "At times he feels personally responsible for the whole church and each brother and sister in it. He is saddened by the creases on our brows and the tensions in our voices. He wants to please everyone, but called by God to lead and love us all, different as we are, he simply cannot. He recognizes harmful decisions and agonizes over whether to voice his concern or respect our privacy. He hates confrontation but he knows eternal destinies are at stake. Understanding spiritual realities better than most of us, he feels too often desperately inadequate and vulnerable."Too often he goes unnoticed. Who compliments him as they may a minister? "Good eldering this week, brother! It really made me think."
"But he may just be the reason you and many you love are still loyal to God's kingdom. Try to imagine your church without them! -- Dale Pauls