Church elders are men who are responsible for the shepherding and direction of the church. The Bible spells out specific duties by which they serve the local body of believers.
What duties are church elders responsible for?
Guide the church into theological truth. The pastor may be the primary teacher of the church, but it is the elders' duty to ensure he and all teachers are preaching accurately from the Word of God. We see this in Acts 15:1-29. In this case, the leadership of the local church was not mature enough spiritually to be able to determine what to do. Instead of fighting, they sent representatives to the apostles and elders at the church in Jerusalem. By submitting to the elders, this church was able to keep the peace and show the elders what issues needed to be resolved.
Be prayer warriors. The qualifications for elders are very high (1 Timothy 3:1-7). A man who can meet the requirements for elder naturally also meets the standard of righteousness mentioned in James 5:16. The prayers of the righteous accomplish much, so it make sense that the elders are called to pray for the sick in the congregation (James 5:14).
Seek the good of others over their own benefit. Elders are called to be servant-leaders. Their high-profile position may garner attention, but their duty is to build up others. An elder should seek to fill the needs of the congregation, and do so humbly and willingly (1 Peter 5:1-4).
Teach the truth. After an elder has determined the truth, he must also teach it. In fact, the position of elder originated because the disciples realized that they could easily lose their focus as the administration of the church became more complex. They knew they needed to concentrate on teaching, and delegated authority to others (deacons) to see to the more practical issues (Acts 6:1-6). Elders need to devote themselves to "prayer and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4).
The Bible also explains the duty of the congregation to the elders. We are to submit to them (Hebrews 13:17), test their teaching (2 Peter 2:1-3), and both honor them and make sure their needs are met (1 Timothy 5:17-18). Being an elder is an honor and a great responsibility. While elders should perform their duties without seeking reward, we as their congregation should respect them for their work.
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