One of the features of great congregations which are fully and scripturally organized is that they have good elderships. This is usually one of the first things mentioned when you ask their people how their congregation is doing. They say, “We have a good eldership.” What makes a “good eldership?” Here are some principles from God’s word which help answer that question.
1. Good elderships have spiritually-minded elders. “Neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves examples to the flock,” (1 Pet. 5:3). Good elders talk a lot about the church. You get the feeling when you are around them that they love the Lord and enjoy talking about spiritual matters. You just know that in their meetings, the elders are spending very little time on temporal matters, but are vitally interested in the spiritual welfare of the congregation. They keep the spiritual health of the congregation uppermost in their minds, their conversations and their decisions.
2. Good eldership spend a lot of time meeting with one another and with members. They probably spend at least several hours each week in meetings, discussing the important work of the church. “Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight,” (1 Pet. 5:2). It is hard to “tend” anything if you do not give it your close attention. Some elders are so busy with social and civic activities, and family responsibilities, that they don’t have time to pay close attention to the church. Good elders will be found in and around the church building frequently. They will often be in meetings with troubled members, helping, counseling, encouraging, and praying with him.
3. Good elderships are well-connected in the brotherhood. They are familiar with our Christian schools, important lectureships and other brotherhood events, like PTP. They have a good sense of which of these are worthy of support, and which have “left their first love.” They will frequently be seen at sister congregations, visiting at their meetings and other activities. They are well-informed. They are “able both to exhort in the sound doctrine and to convict the gainsayers,” (Titus 1:9b). They “love the brotherhood,” (1 Pet. 2:17).
4. Good elderships love young people, and are actively encouraging the young people in the congregation. They understand the importance of families, for they are family men themselves. The good elder “ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity,” (1 Tim. 3:4). He knows each of the young people by name, and he knows that they represent the future of the church.
5. Good elderships “pick their battles,” and don’t get rattled over every little thing. That’s because these men are experienced, not novices, (1 Tim. 3:6). They don’t jump on every latest fad, but rather they “hold to the faithful word which is according to the teaching,” (Titus 1:9a). And the members know they can talk with them about their problems and concerns, because elders have seen these things before.
6. Good elderships love gospel preachers and gospel preaching. They support the local preacher and his family, morally, spiritually, and financially. They also support visiting preachers for gospel meetings, missionaries, and other evangelistic works. They readily understand the value of door-knocking, local evangelism, radio, newspaper and magazine advertising, like Heart to Heart, internet advertising, and other expensive things. They know that the only thing which produces New Testament Christians is the gospel of Jesus Christ, (Rom. 1:16), and they are supportive of every effort to get the message out to the world.
Good elderships and good elders are priceless. They have an often thankless job, but surely it is one of the most important responsibilities ever entrusted by God to man. If you are serving in a congregation with a good eldership, count your blessings! And if someone you know is aspiring to be an elder (or an elder’s wife), encourage them. Remember that they are desiring what the Bible describes as a “good work,” (1 Tim. 3:1). Don’t be critical or negative. No elder is perfect. As a good friend of mine often prayed, strive to be part of the solution, and never part of the problem. Let’s remember how blessed we are to enjoy serving under a good eldership. “May their tribe increase!”
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.