Eldership in the local church is a big deal. Every local church needs a plurality of elders/pastors who lead the church.
Being in the church planting world, eldership in a new church is huge. Church planter this needs to be on your radar. And what I have seen, some planters are not sure how to look for elders, define their roles and/or develop them. They are near paralyzed, maybe even out of fear, in setting up the eldership. But until a church gets Biblical elders, you are in chaos or controlled chaos but either one is not the order the Bible calls for (Titus 1:5).
One Simple Principle
In a recent meeting I had with Kevin Peck, Executive Pastor at Austin Stone, he shared a great principle: “Every elder needs to be able to do what the elder is suppose to do, but that doesn't mean that every elder will do what every elder does.”
I love this.
Every elder must be qualified. They must meet the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 & Titus 1:6-9, proven by an examination and assessment time. They must be able to perform all of the functions of a pastor/elder in some capacity but that doesn't necessarily mean that they have to or that they will.
Ability and Actions
The ability must be there, but that doesn't mean they will have to primarily act in that role or ability. This may sound strange. So, let's make up fictional pastor. We'll name him Mark.
Mark must be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and sniff out and correct false doctrine (Titus 1:9). Every elder must be able to teach. But that doesn't mean that he must get up in the pulpit. He needs to be able to but that doesn't mean that it has to be the bulk of his ministry.
Preaching/teaching is a big deal. Preaching is one avenue of teaching in the local church. Usually one of the elders, who is gifted in preaching/teaching, will find the pulpit to be the bulk of their teaching and investment. Mark is still able to teach and he may be a stud in a leading small group or teaching classes but preaching or teaching in general may not be his primary gifting. And that's ok. He may be a killer systems guy. Maybe Mark loves plans, processes and spreadsheets. Even within the eldership men need to operate within their primary gifting. Let them play in the field God designed them for.
Every elder needs to be able to do what the elder is suppose to do, but that doesn't mean that every elder will do what every elder does.