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Pilgrim #37632 Mon Sep 03, 2007 3:22 PM
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Okay Pilgrim ..... I tried to be a bit more serious than that! sigh

Johan #37633 Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:14 AM
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"Shepherding the flock of God" by means of preaching and teaching, the sacraments, and church discipline - that is the duty of the elders according to the Scriptures. Pilgrim's description seems more applicable to far too many churches, however (in a PCA church that would be the deacons, though - the elders just pass out the communion elements once a month).

My purpose in starting this li'l thread was not just to complain about untrained elders, but to suggest that presbyteries and/or districts, associations, etc make real training available to all church officer candidates and that such training should be a prerequisite for service as a deacon or elder. Their responsibilities are too vital to leave in the hands of one "trained professional," and the elders are to share equally in that responsibility instead of merely endorsing or approving (lending some sort of official validity to) whatever the pastor decides.

I think church bylaws have been adapted to accommodate the misconception that the real government and work of the church should be left to "trained professionals" with assistance from "lesser" elders and deacons. In my opinion that needs to be changed too.

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Robin said:
I think church bylaws have been adapted to accommodate the misconception that the real government and work of the church should be left to "trained professionals" with assistance from "lesser" elders and deacons. In my opinion that needs to be changed too.
applause Well said. You certainly have my vote! bravo


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Robin #37635 Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:17 AM
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A really good book on the role of the Elder is The Elder and His Work by David Dickson (edited by McFarland & Ryken). Dickson describes his duties that he performed back in the 1800s. It is vastly different today. A true eye-opener.

I'm just unsure if the training encouraged by Robin will get us where we intend to go on this. Many Pastors are not sufficiently trained upon leaving seminary, so advocating lay officers going through similiar type of training will leave the same gaps in ministry. I mean they will receive good training in head knowledge but there is much more to ministry for the Elder and Pastor.

Most church Elders see their role as primariy one of teaching SS and governing the church through meeting attendance.

The problem in the overall church is just not with Elders, but the time allocation with everyone. We have too many toys that keep us away from true Christian service.


John Chaney

"having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith . . ." Colossians 2:7
Johan #37636 Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:03 PM
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This thread has sort of come to a halt but it still is an important issue.

What do you see as the tasks of the elders?

Johan

Johan: What saieth the Scriptures. The whole Idea of a seminary degree for elders according to Robin is not the answer. Paul states:

2) The overseer then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, prudent, respectable, hospitable, skilful in teaching,

3) not given to wine, not a violent man (striker), not fond of shameful gain, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not loving money,

4) ruling his own house well, having his children in submission, with all reverence

5) for if one does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?

6) not newly converted, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

7) Moreover, he must also have a good testimony from those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.


Teaching is one of many that Paul states. Having one with more degrees than a thermometer who is violent, rude, arrogant, self righteouss is worse than one who may lack in scriptural exegesis, but his character righteousness is beyond reproach.


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Joe k #37637 Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:58 AM
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The question was how should they be trained, not "is training important" or "is character more important."

This discussion has been helpful. Thanks to all who participated.

Joe k #37638 Wed Sep 05, 2007 12:28 PM
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Thanks.

In Titus 1:9 Paul says of the overseer that

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He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it

Robin said that the task of the elders is to shepherd the flock through teaching and preaching and I agree. But I think that in our churches we have made a lot of the overseeing aspect of the task of the elders but the teaching part has, I would say, been neglected.

So, what is the practical implication of "to give instruction" in Titus 1? Is it preaching as from the pulpit or is it something else?


Johan

Johan #37639 Wed Sep 05, 2007 1:37 PM
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Johan said:
Joe_k

Thanks.

In Titus 1:9 Paul says of the overseer that

Quote
He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it

Robin said that the task of the elders is to shepherd the flock through teaching and preaching and I agree. But I think that in our churches we have made a lot of the overseeing aspect of the task of the elders but the teaching part has, I would say, been neglected.

So, what is the practical implication of "to give instruction" in Titus 1? Is it preaching as from the pulpit or is it something else?


Johan

That is a REALLY good question. If a denomination differentiates between "ruling elders" and "teaching elders", is it permissible for a ruling elder to say, just teach by discussing theology "one on one" with a member of the congregation? Or does he have to actually teach a Sunday school class or Bible study?

On the other hand, denominations such as Anglicans have all presbyters preach--and even deacons are expected to preach. I do not know if any or all of the continental Reformed groups differentiate between "teaching elders" and "ruling elders"--would be interested to know the answer to that.

Theo

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Johan said:
Joe_k

Thanks.

In Titus 1:9 Paul says of the overseer that

Quote
He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it

Robin said that the task of the elders is to shepherd the flock through teaching and preaching and I agree. But I think that in our churches we have made a lot of the overseeing aspect of the task of the elders but the teaching part has, I would say, been neglected.

So, what is the practical implication of "to give instruction" in Titus 1? Is it preaching as from the pulpit or is it something else?


Johan

There is a difference between preaching per se from a pulipit and teaching. Since I see no scriptural warrant for a ruling elder vs teaching elder, i cannot partake in that type of discussion. It is way too vertical and smells of ecclesiastical popery to me, but thats another story.

My point in my post was not to neglect the teaching aspect as laid out by Paul in Titus and elsewhere. The elder is a much broader person than we tend to make him.

Since the primitive church appeared to be taught by a plurality of elders, and not a one man show of pastor/laity, instruction should be done one on one, private study and during worship. This whole idea of a 20 minute sermon by an ordained minister and that becomes the teaching for the week is absent from the inspired writ.

I believe the Holy Spirit picks those fit and then they are confirmed in their ministy and gifts.


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Theo #37641 Wed Sep 05, 2007 2:58 PM
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Theo, that's exactly where I am aiming toward with the question.

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If a denomination differentiates between "ruling elders" and "teaching elders", is it permissible for a ruling elder to say, just teach by discussing theology "one on one" with a member of the congregation? Or does he have to actually teach a Sunday school class or Bible study?

Given the fact that Paul uses elder and overseer interchangeably and the apostle Peter refered to himself as "a fellow elder" it seems as if there is no real distinction between ruling and teaching elders. I have also read somewhere that the term "elder" was better known with the Christians of Jewish origin and "overseer" with those from the Greek world, but that both terms refer to the same office. But this then also affects the "qualifications" for elders. It seems to me that apart for the other qualifications for elders as given in 1 Tim 3 and in 1 Titus, there is also the requirement that an elder must be able to give instruction in sound doctrine.

And this relates directly to Robin's original question. Does this requirement mean that the person "nominated" to be an elder must already have the gift of being able to instruct other people in sound doctrine of should he get some training after being ordained as elder so that he is able to instruct? Not all people really have the ability/gift to teach/instruct other people. Mark Dever says the following:

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Ability to teach the Word simply means that a man is able to explain the Scriptures accurately to other people in ways that profit them spiritually. He should be known by others in the congregation as a man to whom people can go in order to have the Scriptures explained to them. This could mean that a man is gifted to preach. But is may also mean that a man has an effective an broad based discipling ministry in the church in which he is explaining and applying Scriptures to individuals in ways that help them grow in Christian knowledge, love, and fruitfulness.

With this understanding of what it means to be able to teach , we can see how some elders simply end up in public teaching situations more often than others. Yet for the development of their authority among the congregation, it is wise to choose men who are at least willing to teach publicly and who show some modicum of interest and propensity to do so.

This seems to me to be a good explanation. Comments?

Johan

[/quote]

Johan

Johan #37642 Wed Sep 05, 2007 3:21 PM
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I have noticed that there has been an absence of another important passage where bears directly upon this discussion:


Ephesians 4:11-14 (ASV) "And he gave some [to be] apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;"


I would like to point out a couple of salient things in the above quoted text: 1) re: "pastors and teachers" which I believe should be taken as a group and not two distinct offices, e.g., ruling elders and teaching elders. We can see a parallel of Paul's phraseology in 1Tim 5:17,


1 Timothy 5:17 (ASV) "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching."


Here we do see a unified Eldership where some are singled out as having given themselves to the study of the Word and teaching. 2) All the Elders therefore can rightly be deemed teaching elders or overseers, which is part and parcel of shepherding the flock. Therefore, although all must be "apt to teach", there are some who have the gift for preaching. There doesn't appear any bifurcation between ruling vs. teaching or even teaching vs. preaching, i.e., two distinct groups of men where the qualifications differ in regard to the office of Elder itself. Thus there is not a difference in authority among the Eldership; they are equal in that regard. There is likewise no prohibition in regard to preaching. All are qualified to preach, albeit one or more may be better at doing so.

The bottom line, therefore IMHO, is that an Elder is an Elder is an Elder. All must meet the qualifications, one of which is being "apt to teach", which nowhere is said to be restricted to a "one-on-one" situation. This teaching can be from the pulpit, group study and/or one-on-one.

In His grace,


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Johan #37643 Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:52 AM
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Johan said:
Theo, that's exactly where I am aiming toward with the question.

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If a denomination differentiates between "ruling elders" and "teaching elders", is it permissible for a ruling elder to say, just teach by discussing theology "one on one" with a member of the congregation? Or does he have to actually teach a Sunday school class or Bible study?

Given the fact that Paul uses elder and overseer interchangeably and the apostle Peter refered to himself as "a fellow elder" it seems as if there is no real distinction between ruling and teaching elders. I have also read somewhere that the term "elder" was better known with the Christians of Jewish origin and "overseer" with those from the Greek world, but that both terms refer to the same office. But this then also affects the "qualifications" for elders. It seems to me that apart for the other qualifications for elders as given in 1 Tim 3 and in 1 Titus, there is also the requirement that an elder must be able to give instruction in sound doctrine.

And this relates directly to Robin's original question. Does this requirement mean that the person "nominated" to be an elder must already have the gift of being able to instruct other people in sound doctrine of should he get some training after being ordained as elder so that he is able to instruct? Not all people really have the ability/gift to teach/instruct other people. Mark Dever says the following:

Quote
Ability to teach the Word simply means that a man is able to explain the Scriptures accurately to other people in ways that profit them spiritually. He should be known by others in the congregation as a man to whom people can go in order to have the Scriptures explained to them. This could mean that a man is gifted to preach. But is may also mean that a man has an effective an broad based discipling ministry in the church in which he is explaining and applying Scriptures to individuals in ways that help them grow in Christian knowledge, love, and fruitfulness.

With this understanding of what it means to be able to teach , we can see how some elders simply end up in public teaching situations more often than others. Yet for the development of their authority among the congregation, it is wise to choose men who are at least willing to teach publicly and who show some modicum of interest and propensity to do so.

This seems to me to be a good explanation. Comments?

Johan
I too have trouble with the "three office" view of TE, RE and deacon, and think all elders should fulfill the Biblical requirement as far as being "able to teach." But I could live with Mark Dever's comments, though: "one on one" teaching to me would meet the Biblical requirement, but a church could not get along well if the elders ALL wanted to limit their teaching to that format.

I also wonder how well someone who wanted to be an elder could fulfill the Biblical mandate if he had a condition that made his speech more or less unintelligible. (I have actually known someone in that situation who was convinced he had the gift of teaching but was not really able to communicate easily orally.)

Theo

Theo #37644 Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:55 PM
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Theo said:
I too have trouble with the "three office" view of TE, RE and deacon, . . .
I believe that part of the justification given for dividing the Eldership into two distinct, at least functional, offices is that it was to coincide with the three offices of Christ:

Prophet = preaching Elder
Priest = Deacon
King = ruling Elder

It's a fascinating idea, but one which I don't find very strong support in its favor. I have no qualms with recognizing the diversity of gifts given, i.e., some men may be gifted in the area of public preaching more than others. But my objection, which apparently is shared by others here as well, is the additional division of authority among the Elders, thus effectively making the "pastor" (preaching elder) a higher authority. He should be one among equals, IMHO.

And just an aside, this same allocation of authority within the Eldership seems to also apply to the distinction between Elders and Deacons. In many churches I have been involved with, Deacons are looked upon as "second-class" officers, which bothered me to no little extent. Any thoughts on this?

In His grace,


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Pilgrim #37645 Thu Sep 06, 2007 2:52 PM
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And just an aside, this same allocation of authority within the Eldership seems to also apply to the distinction between Elders and Deacons. In many churches I have been involved with, Deacons are looked upon as "second-class" officers, which bothered me to no little extent. Any thoughts on this?

In our churches, for many years there has been the tendency to nominate young sometimes inexperienced men for the position of Deacon. This strongly left the impression that the office of Deacon is some sort of preparation school for eldership. I think I am not far off when I say that this habit has to a large extent been done away with during the last 15 years and in many congregations one now finds quite a number of older deacons as well.



Johan

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I see that too, all too frequently. In my former church the Deacons prepare a budget and the Elders have to approve it. A sensible precaution, I suppose, but it has a way of conveying more than a functional distinction between the two offices.

I'm much more bothered by the artificial distinction made between clergy and laity than by the separate (but equal?) duties of Elders and Deacons. Yes, those who labor especially in word and doctrine should have their material needs provided for. I have no qualms about that at all. But when the ministry is treated as a profession comparable to the practice of law or medicine, unBiblical and dangerous presumptions follow fast upon it.

-R

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