What does an elder do? This is the time of year when we begin to think again about nominating elders and deacons. In the coming weeks we will once again be receiving nominations from members for next year’s elders and deacons. As you think about this opportunity, allow me to take a moment to consider one of the requirements of serving as an elder.
If you know your Bible reasonably well, you will be aware that 1 Timothy 3 speaks to the required character and integrity of anyone serving as an elder. Likewise, Paul outlines the qualifications of being an elder in Titus 1. 1 Peter 5 also speaks about elders, but more from the perspective of those who are already in the office rather than for those being considered for it. Even so, it is clear that much is expected of an elder.
One passage having to do with elders / pastors (we believe these terms are interchangeable and are used to refer to different perspectives on the same position) that is less frequently cited is Ephesians 4:12. There, Paul is speaking about leaders in the church, among whom are pastors (some translations have “shepherds”), and he says that they have been given to the church, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”. Although references are made to the ability of an elder to teach, this passage alone speaks of equipping. What does this mean?
Essentially, to equip someone is to help them realize as fully as possible who they are in Christ and how they should serve Him in the church. Part of what it takes to realize the riches we have in Christ is to learn from those who come from different backgrounds, different cultures and even different times. To this end, this Sunday you will see that the Resource Center (near the coffee area) has been fully stocked with a host of new titles. Some of these new titles are short works on the life and thought of a significant person in church history. Other titles are in a series dedicated to helping Christians think clearly about important topics such as prayer, discipleship, church membership, evangelism, missions, etc. In addition to these books, we will also have copies of Dr. Keith Harper’s book, SBC FAQ’s. This is the book for you if you have questions about what the Southern Baptist Convention is and how it works.
While these books do cost ($10 / $15), we offer them at a slightly lower cost than you can get them from most suppliers. We do, however, have additional resources that are free, including Tabletalk magazine, How to Listen to a Sermon, Ultimate Questions and the state Baptist newspaper.
Equipping the saints is a multifaceted work, and the elders want to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible to help you grow stronger in your faith, deeper in your love and broader in your understanding.