25 September, 2022

The Truth About Elders and Ministers

by | 8 March, 2006

By Mark A. Taylor

You may jump to the wrong conclusion from hearing only the snippet of a conversation. And then again, sometimes a sentence or two summarizes the whole truth. What truth would you gather from these disconnected quotes?

“¢ From the elder of a church who went with his preacher to a minister”s meeting: “Do all ministers feel as bad and talk as negatively about their elders as this group does?”

“¢ From a young minister speaking with some of his church”s elders: “All the years I was growing up at home, my dad served as an elder and as chairman of the elders. And often I wondered, Why would anyone want to put himself through that?” 

“¢ From the friend of a minister who”s thinking about leaving for another church: “The elders planned a meeting to decide details of the upcoming year”s calendar. Only at the last minute did it occur to one of them that maybe they should include the minister in their meeting too.”

“¢ From a man who has just retired from the ministry. “Oh, I”m really enjoying this time of my life. No more elders meetings!”

We”d like to think these are unusual situations. We”d like to believe the stress and conflict indicated by these examples aren”t present most places. We”d like to say that men of good will everywhere are applying the Bible”s teachings about elders and then happily leading healthy congregations.

But neither happy nor healthy describes the way too many elders and ministers relate with each other.

In too many places elders treat their minister like a hired hand with the impossible task to meet the changing expectations of every member, every visitor, and (most of all) every elder. Some of these elders want the church to grow. But they don”t understand that any enterprise needs leadership from more than a committee of untrained volunteers if it expects to get beyond small.

In some places the minister views the eldership as little more than a necessary evil. Getting decisions made is a political process, not unlike what we see in Washington: Recruit “your men” to the eldership. Behind the scenes and before the next meeting, cajole and convince a majority to agree with the idea you”ll present. Most of these ministers want the church to grow, and they believe it can happen if their elders will just get out of the way!

And then there are places where elders and ministers have a mutual respect. Ministers lead but seek counsel. Elders consult, set boundaries, confront problem people, and support their ministers. Ministers and elders expect to see weakness as well as strength in each other, and with prayer and shared accountability all of them grow stronger.

We”d like to believe these situations are the majority. But then we hear another offhand conversation that makes us worry and wonder about ministers and elders in too many of our churches.

<a href="https://christianstandard.com/author/admin/" target="_self">Christian Standard</a>

Christian Standard

Contact us at cs@christianstandardmedia.com


Latest Articles

Help Wanted

Lycoming Christian Church (Linden, PA) is seeking a full-time minister of children, youth, and young adults. Beechwold Christian Church in Columbus, OH, is searching for a student minister. Rising Sun (IN) Church of Christ is seeking a new lead minister.


By taking these symbols of Jesus’ body and blood, we announce we believe there really was a Jesus, and he really did die for us and carried all our sins down to a grave . . .

Documentary Highlights Christian Response to Pandemics

Southeast Christian Church’s “Purpose in Pandemics” is a documentary that follows the response of the church to pandemics throughout history. The “Purpose in Pandemics” website also includes a study guide for small groups and individuals.

Used of God

I soaked up Sam Stone’s wit and wisdom during our lunches together. Afterward, I’d take notes about our conversations. After hearing of his passing, inspired by his wordsmithing, I felt compelled to share just a small part of his story.

Sam E. Stone: ‘He Tried to Speak the Truth in Love’

In memory and appreciation of our former editor, Sam E. Stone, who died early this week, we share this 2011 column from Christian Standard’s archives in which Sam discussed four Scripture verses significant to his life.

Elliott Library ‘Cornerstone’ Laid

Three Bibles of historical significance to Cincinnati Christian University were the first books place on the shelves during relocation of the George Mark Elliott Library.

The Death of Evil

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw in minority groups’ struggles for social equality in America a parallel with Israel’s bondage in Egypt. King envisioned God’s goodness would deliver the U.S. from the evil of segregation.

Mark Scott’s Greatest Kingdom Impact

Since I first enrolled at Ozark Christian College, Mark Scott has been my kingdom hero, and I’m not the only young preacher Mark has shaped. Over his 35 years at OCC, Mark has inspired generations of students.

‘Have We Plans for 1921?’

“All the Standard asks is the opportunity to serve, and it yearns to render in 1921 the greatest, finest, and best service of its history. . . .”

CCLF Concluding Strong First Year in Greater Cincinnati

In its first full year, the Christian Church Leadership Foundation has accomplished much to ensure Christian education and resources would continue to be available to people in the Greater Cincinnati area.

News Briefs for Dec. 9

Items from Timber Lake Christian Church (Moberly, Mo.), Choateville Christian Church (Frankfort, Ky.), Johnson University, and more.

My Counsel for Young Preachers

If I were counseling an aspiring young preacher fresh out of Bible college or seminary, champing at the bit to lead in the church, I would offer these three bits of advice.

My Memories of Marshall Leggett

By Ben Merold
As I think about Marshall Leggett, who passed away on March 2 at age 90, two personal experiences keep coming to my mind . . .

Powell Quintuplets Graduating from High School

When the Powell quintuplets were born in 2001, all of Kentucky celebrated, including Southeast Christian Church, where the Powells are longtime members. Now the quints are 18 and are all headed to the same university.

Reentry: It May Be Harder Than We Think

When the COVID-19 crisis eases, I anticipate that reentry is going to be harder than some people think. Churches, especially, need to prepare for this.