Sunday, October 01, 2006

Service: An Elder's Function (Part 1)

There are a number of practical ways which elders extend care to the people of God. I will list just of few of them found in the scriptures.


“The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17)

“An overseer, then, must be … able to teach.” (1 Timothy 3:2)

Jesus spoke of a faithful servant who was put in charge of his master's household to, “Give them their food at the proper time” (Matthew 24:45). An elder's teaching ministry is very much like the ministry of that servant. Elders are called to feed the people of God with the Word of God. Their teaching ministry should not only give the saints an appreciation for God's Word, but also help them to see themselves in the Word and to learn how to apply the Word of God to their lives. Their ministry is very much like the ministry of the elders in the day of Ezra.

“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up... also... the Levites, explained the law to the people while the people remained in their place. And they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.” (Nehemiah 8:5-8)

The teaching ministry of elders is not the laying down of doctrine; this is the role of the apostles and prophets. Their role is to take the word as it is preached and to “translate” it to the people. To help them understand how it applies to their lives and to help them to grasp the word and to graft it into their lives.

Praying for the Sick

“Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” (James 5:14-15)

An elder's care for the flock of God should not be limited to the spiritual needs of the people, but rather their care should extend to the whole person; body, soul, and spirit. Elders should not allow themselves to become isolated or insulated from the people. Elders are called to both celebrate with those experiencing the triumphs of life, and to help and comfort those experiencing the disappointments and the losses of life. Jesus shared life with those whom He was with. He was found both at the wedding in Cana and at the widow’s son’s funeral. He healed the sick and blessed the children. Jesus did not hide himself away in a monastery, seeking life-long solitude with God, rather he was found with the people, seeking to help them in this journey called life. Elders, likewise, are called to be involved in the lives of people, to be open, approachable, and personable. One of the ways that elders minister to the physical needs of the saints is though their prayers for them when they are sick. Praying for the sick in one of the ways that the genuine care they have for the people of God is expressly felt by those under their care.

David Robison

No comments:

Post a Comment