In the New Testament, the term elder is interchangeable with the terms overseer and pastor.
Elders are spiritually mature men (‘elders’) given the responsibility for the general oversight of the church (‘overseers’) and the shepherding of the souls of its members (‘pastors’).
Elders are appointed to evaluate church life and provide pastoral care over the church. They seek to discern God's will as they evaluate what we have done, where we are, where we need to grow, and what changes may be recommended for the good of our church family.
Responsibilities of Elders
Elders give watchful and protective care over the flock. (Hebrews 13:17; Acts 20:28-30; James 5:14-16)
Elders teach and equip the saints for ministry and maturity. (Acts 6:4; Acts 20:20-27; Colossians 1:28-29; Titus 1:9)
Elders deal with doctrinal issues. (Acts 15:1-6; Titus 1:9)
Elders are to seek to be living demonstrations of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 5:3; Hebrews 13:7)
Elders should not be dictatorial. (1 Peter 5:2-3)
This ministry involves these kinds of practical responsibilities: Attend eldership meetings and other leadership meetings; be available for counseling and prayer; be available for church discipline; be available for meetings with other ministry teams; be available for emergency meetings; be available to teach and preach before the body as needed; communicate by email and phone as necessary; contact members who are in need or are drifting.
Qualifications for Elders
The men appointed to eldership must have faith that it is God's will that they serve in this capacity.
This is determined by the following qualifications (see 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1):
It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. - 1 Timothy 3:1
An overseer, then, must be above reproach... I Timothy 3:2
To be above reproach is to live so as to not be found worthy of public shame, disgrace or scorn.
The following is a composite summary of the qualifications for overseer found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:3-9:
The husband of one wife (if married, he is “a one woman man”; maintaining singular devotion toward his wife)
Temperate (not self-indulgent, but moderate; self restrained; alert; watchful; clear-headed)
Prudent (not rash, capable of practicing sound judgment in practical matters)
Respectable (orderly; worthy of esteem, honor and high regard)
Hospitable (“love of strangers”; friendly; kind and solicitous toward guests or strangers)
Able to teach (able to use the Word to encourage and to correct members)
Not addicted to wine (not abusing any substance such as drugs or alcohol)
Not pugnacious (“not a giver of blows”; reacts calmly and gently in difficult circumstances)
Loving what is good
Just (fair; equitable; impartial)
Devout (reverent; earnest; sincere)
Free from the love of money (not greedy)
One who manages his own household well (providing loving leadership of his family; having children in the home who are submissive and not hostile to Christianity)
Not a new convert
He must have a good reputation with those outside the church (with regard to things such as business practices or community involvement)
Only men may serve as elders. (1 Timothy 2:9-15)
Age is not a qualification. Men do not have to be a certain age to serve as an elder.
Marital status is not a qualification. Men do not have to be married to serve as an elder.
New elders must be appointed by the existing elders and confirmed by a congregational approval process as described below.
Appointment of Elders
Elders shall be appointed as the need arises and as the Holy Spirit leads. The present elders shall recommend the appointment of men to serve as elders to the church body. The process for determining qualified men to serve as elders should follow this general pattern:
Scripture is reviewed to remind the body of the qualifications and responsibilities of elders. Members of the body are encouraged to prayerfully nominate men to be considered for the service of elder.
Nominated men are approached by the present elders and asked if they have a desire (as well as the freedom) to serve the body as an elder. Those men who express an interest in serving must be evaluated according to the Scriptural qualifications. This would include a private evaluation through a personal interview with the present elders, a family interview with the present elders, and an “outsider” interview with the present elders (ie, with those outside his family or the church body with whom he should have a good reputation). This also would include a public evaluation through a question and answer time with the body, as a whole, and an opportunity to teach the body from the Scriptures.
The present elders are responsible to present to the body the men they believe are qualified to serve as elders. Once a formal presentation of the men to be appointed has been made, the body will have three weeks to share with the present elders any concerns they have with the men presented for confirmation. If there are no Scriptural reasons for not confirming the men presented, then, at the conclusion of the three week period, the men presented by the elders will be confirmed and installed into office through prayer with the laying on of hands by the present elders in the presence of the gathered body of Coast.
Elder Term of Service
The term of service for an elder shall be indefinite unless:
1. He moves to another church.
2. He becomes unqualified according to scriptural guidelines.
3. He believes that he is no longer to serve in that capacity.