God’s design for Church leadership is for each individual congregation to be led by a group of leaders designated as elders.
Elder is the title for the leadership position, whereas overseer and pastor are terms used for the work of the leaders. Evidence would indicate that the terms elder, overseer and pastor all refer to the same person/leader (I Peter 5:1-2; Titus 1:5,7; Ephesians 4:11). The fact that the title elder is primarily used in the plural form in the NT (e.g. Acts 14:5; Titus 1:5; James 5:14) indicates that the ruling body of leaders in each local church was a plurality of godly men identified as elders.
Although women will minister in many ways related to the ministry of elders, and they have gifts that overlap with eldership, Scripture does not provide for women to hold the office of elder in the local Church (I Timothy 2:11-13; 3:1-2, 4). I realize that this position is not widely held anymore, but I cannot be honest with Scripture and reach another conclusion.
How can you know if God has called you to this honorable work?
7 points about calling:
- Desire to serve as an overseer (I Timothy 3:1)
- Qualification for eldership (I Timothy 3:1-6;Titus 1:5ff)
- Life experiences in leadership (I Timothy 3:4-5)
- Demonstration of a shepherd’s heart (I Peter 5:1-4)
- Spiritual gifts (I Timothy 4:14;Romans 12:3ff.)
- Capable of being a team member (plural leadership is God’s design – Acts 14:23; 20:17,28; I Tim.3:off; 5:17; Eph. 4:11; I Pet.5:1-4)
- Formal testing and recognition by spiritual leaders (Titus 1:5,9;Acts 14:23)
The qualifications listed in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 along with the objective considerations above must be given authority over feelings, experiences and giftedness. On this account, it’s possible to disqualify oneself from fulfilling a call.
10 points on the role of pastors
For a clearer understanding of the duties of pastoral leadership, consider the following:
- Training and appointing other leaders (II Tim. 2:2; Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23)
- Leadership, admonishment (I Thess. 5:12; Heb. 13:17)
- Ministering the Word (Titus 1:9; I Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:7)
- Representation (Acts 20:17)
- Spiritual oversight (Heb. 13:17)
- Governing the believers (I Tim. 5:17)
- Equipping (Eph. 4:11-12)
- Spiritual restoration (Gal. 6:1-2)
- Refuting false doctrine (Titus 1:9)
- Guarding the flock (Acts 20:17, 28-31)