Essential Church and Elder Leadership

Essential Church is an Elder led church.  To learn more about Elder leadership, we have provided the following explanation as well as our Elder Covenant (see below). 

Why Elders are Essential

Biblical Eldership: The Calling, The Character, The Congregation
  1.  The Calling of Elders (1 Timothy 3:1)

Noble- Fine personal qualities, or high moral value

Task- An honorable work with great demands.

Desire- To aim toward and stretch ones self forward to grasp.  This is the same desire Paul alludes to in Philippians 3:11-12 when he talks about obtaining the goal and pressing on toward the goal in Christ Jesus.

            In the New Testament, the church leaders are given four titles.

  1. Elders
  2. Overseers (or Bishops)
  3. Pastors (or Shepherds)
  4. Deacons.

Elders and Overseers are used interchangeably: Acts 20:17, 28, Titus 1:5, 7 & 1 Peter 5:1-2

Elders and Pastors represent the same role: 1 Peter 5:1-3, Ephesians 4:11, I Timothy 3:2

Elders are given the same tasks as Pastors: Shepherding and Teaching

 Why is a Biblical structure and terminology important?

* It bases church authority on the Bible and not human wisdom. It is dangerous to base a church leadership structure on a current secular model. A “whatever works” mentality lifts man-centered wisdom above God’s.

* It allows the congregation to know what is expected from their leadership. The Biblical terminology clearly outlines the Biblical expectations.

It requires the elders to live up to the Biblical qualifications of leadership.  Once the Bible is not the basis for qualifying leaders for ministry, the entire selection process becomes completely subjective.

 The Four Primary Duties of an Elder:

  1. A Leader– Humble, servant leadership does not demand respect, but earns it by being an example to the church.

1 Timothy 4:12 and 1 Peter 5:2-3.

  1. A Shepherd– Jesus is the “chief Shepherd” and elders serve as under-shepherds.  The shepherd must protect the flock, attend to the needs of those in the congregation and care for God’s church.  Acts 20:28-29, 1 Timothy 3:4-5 The Greek word “care for” used in 1 Timothy is only used two other times in the New Testament- both times Jesus used the word to describe how the “Good Samaritan” had compassion on the injured Jew by cleaning and binding His wounds.
  2. A Teacher– An elder must be able to teach God’s Word 1 Timothy 3:2 To give both Biblical instruction and to rebuke those who oppose the truth of the Gospel.
  3. An Equipper– An elder must be one who equips others to preach, teach, and do the work of the ministry. 2 Timothy 2:22 and Ephesians 4:11-12
  1.  The Character of Elders (1 Timothy 3:2-7)

The qualifications for Eldership can be broken into 3 categories: Situational, Family, and Moral Qualifications.

Situational Qualifications:

* Desire to serve (1 Timothy 3:1) (the desire to serve as an elder is something that must be present)

* Able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:9) (it is one of the primary duties of an elder)

* Not a recent convert (1 Timothy 3:6) (pride, sin issues, and lack of understanding)

* Well thought of by outsiders (1 Timothy 3:7) (non-believers should have a healthy respect for the kind of life he lives- If unbelievers do not respect those in leadership, they will likely not attend the church or become turned off to the Gospel in general)

Family Qualifications:

* The husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:6) (We understand and interpret this scripture to mean that an elder must be a “one woman man.” In other words, he is not to be engaged in an improper relationship either emotionally or physically with a woman other than his wife.

* Manage his own household well (1 Timothy 3:4-5, Titus 1:6)  (An elder should be leading his children toward a respectful and obedient lifestyle in Christ.  While each child must spiritually respond to God on a personal level, it is the role of the Father to be the spiritual leader of his home.)

Moral Qualifications:

* Above Reproach (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:6) (Not perfect, but free from blemishes of character or glaring moral weakness.)

* Sober-minded (1 Timothy 3:2) (Ability to think clearly, make well thought out decisions and maintain emotional maturity in the midst of pressures and problems in ministry.)

Self-controlled (1 Timothy 3:2) (Prudent, disciplined and discreet)

Respectable (1 Timothy 3:2) (Worthy of respect)

* Hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8) (Willing to build relationships with people outside of the service.)

* Gentle (1 Timothy 3:3) (Kind, gracious and patient with others, especially when he has been wronged)

* A lover of good (Titus 1:8) (Willing to help people and seek their good.)

* Upright (Titus 1:8) (Lives in obedience to God’s Word.)

* Holy (Titus 1:8) (Set apart to God in order to obey His will.)

* Disciplined (Titus 1:8) (A life of discipline reflects a dedication to obedience to God.)

* Not a drunkard (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7) (One who abuses alcohol or drinks in excess.)

* Not violent (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7) (One who resists the temptation to resort to physical or verbal retaliation, but with a peaceful spirit seeks to resolve conflict through prayer and humility.)

* Not quarrelsome (1 Timothy 3:3)  (Not one who is seeking to start arguments that can lead to disunity.)

* Not a lover of money (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7)  (Free from the love and controlling influence of money.)

Not arrogant (Titus 1:7) (Pride and authority can make a dangerous combination. Humble, servant leadership is Essential in ministry)

Not quick-tempered (Titus 1:7) (Like God, godly leaders should be “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8))

  1.  The Congregation and the Elders (Hebrews 13:17)

There is a sense of weight to this… the congregation is held accountable to the elders and God, the elders are held accountable to God and the congregation.

“Leaders”- word picture of the “primary shoot of a plant.”

  There is a picture of the elders not only being responsible for themselves, but for others as well.  If the elders are not spiritually healthy, it can impact the whole congregation, which is why it is of mutual benefit to the elders and the congregation to focus on the health of the elders so that the elders can focus on the health of the congregation.

Elders have Authority

:  1 Thessalonians 5:12, Hebrews 13:17

* Elders have Limited Authority

: Elders are under the authority of the Word of God.  They are not to be obeyed because they are elders, but because they have the responsibility of shepherding and teaching the congregation.

The Congregation has Authority

: Jesus Christ is the head of the church, the Chief Shepherd.

New Testament teaching leans toward the autonomy of the local church congregation for many important decisions:

– Selecting Leaders (Acts 1:23, 6:2-3)

– Sending missionaries (Acts 13:3, 14:27)

– Church discipline (Matthew 18:17)

The Elders are in a position of leadership and should be given freedom to lead.  It is their role to bring important decisions before the church on such matters as the addition of a new elder, the affirmation of the annual budget, or a change to the constitution or bylaws of the church.


Essential Elder Covenant

It is indeed a noble calling to aspire to the role of an Elder.  As Elders, we recognize that we bear a greater level of responsibility as spiritual leaders at Essential church.

We have a great responsibility for the care and spiritual wellbeing of the congregation at Essential. 

  • I commit to pray for the congregation regularly.
  • I commit to model a lifestyle worth of the Gospel.
  • I commit to serve the congregation sacrificially.
  • I commit to lead the congregation with courage, humility and wisdom.

 We have a great responsibility to serve as a plurality of Elders at Essential; loving one another, listening to one other, learning from one another in submission to God’s Word and the Holy Spirit.

  • I will pray for you and your family.
  • I will support and encourage you in your walk with Christ.
  • I will be a safe place for you to share your fears, hopes and dreams – without judgment and criticism.
  • I will meet regularly for prayer, Bible study and discussion.
  • I will seek your approval/agreement on any people or organizational changes.
  • I will speak the truth in love.
  • I will seek to know you as a person.
  • I will strive to reconcile our differences quickly and privately in a Biblical manner.
  • I will trust the one of us who has to lead an area of ministry.
  • I will support the decisions that we make as Elders.
  • I will maintain confidentiality.