Suggestions for Churches Making the Transition to Leadership by Elders

  1. Take it slow.

    Unity is more valuable than speed in a subject that doesn’t compromise the fundamentals of the faith.  It isn’t wise to offend older believers who can be brought along through patient appeal of sound Biblical teaching.

  2. Base all changes in the Word.

    Presumably, you are moving forward in response to new light God has given you.  It doesn’t make sense to go from one tradition to just another tradition.  Make sure you are searching out solid principles of Scripture to support all decisions.

  3. Go all the way.

    Once you understand that the clergy system is unbiblical, you will not be truly satisfied with a “modified clergy” setup in which the “Pastor” who is still in charge can now refer to “his” board of elders.  It is one of the most fascinating truths about the NT pattern for the church that all truly Biblical principles of church conduct compliment one another.  It will be helpful to rethink every aspect of church polity in the light of Scripture.

  4. Overhaul terminology.

    The word “pastor” is a spiritual gift, not an administrative title.  Anyone with this gift must go the extra mile in educating and reminding the Christians that he is “brother Jim,” or just “Jim.”  This same change may need to come in the area of denominational verbiage too.  It is refreshing to meet a company of God’s people that carefully avoids sectarian terms in referring to fellow believers and companies of Christians.

  5. Learn to work as a true plurality.

    There are about five different approaches to elder rule in a local church.  See [here].  It is important to understand that in some of these, the Biblical word “elder” may be employed, but the actual leadership style is not supported by the New Testament at all.  Don’t settle for a move from a single to a plural clergy situation.

  6. Emphasize the word “among.”

    In Acts 20:28(Gk),  I Thes. 5:12 and I Pet, 5:1,2 the apostles remind fellow elders that they are to be leading from among the flock.  Too often the idea of elders being “over” the sheep takes preeminence.  In a healthy church fellowship, much of the routine business of the assembly can be handled by the men working together with the elders present but not necessarily acting as the decision makers.

  7. Aggressively pursue unanimity.

    We must always keep in mind (what we know in theory) that the majority is often wrong; the truth is often with a minority.  Be committed to the position that it isn’t my way or your way that matters most, but God’s way.  See the article [here] in cases where one or a few dissent on a matter that must be decided.

  8. Keep eldership dynamic.

    “An elder for life whether doing the work or not” is a poor way to achieve stability.  Much better to make recognition real by cultivating a voluntary self check and mutual accountability among the elders.  It is important that  elders be added in a timely manner to keep up with the growth of the church.  Brief suggestions on the process by which elders are added can be found[here].