As we prepare to become an independent church we're in the process of drafting the Village Church Handbook. The purpose of this Handbook is to give people the information they need in order to decide whether they can commit to the Village Church. Here is an excerpt about the responsibilities of elders...
What are the responsibilities of elders?
The responsibility of elders at the Village Church can be summarised in a sentence:
‘…be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care…’ (1 Peter 5:2).
A shepherd is all about their sheep. The elders are all about the members. People - rather than programmes - are a priority for the elders at the Village Church. The elders will seek to share their lives with the members in order to care for them. Or in other words, shepherds will smell like sheep! The elders seek to care for the members by taking the following three responsibilities seriously:
First, elders serve the word. ‘Jesus said to Simon Peter … “Feed my lambs” … “Take care of my sheep” … “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15-17). Shepherds feed sheep with physical food; elders feed members with spiritual food - with the Word of God. Being able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2) is a requirement of eldership. The elders of the Village Church seek to participate in the Bible teaching, protect the Bible teaching (Acts 20:28-30), and perpetuate the Bible teaching (2 Timothy 2:2).
Second, elders seek the wanderer. ‘To the elders among you … be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them…’ (1 Peter 5:2). Shepherds watch over their sheep, and when one of them wanders away, they go and look for them. The elders watch over the members, and when one of them wanders away, they go and look for them (Matthew 18:12-14).
Third, elders show the way. ‘To the elders among you … be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care … being examples…’ (1 Peter 5:2-3). Elders should be an example of godly character. Elders should also be an example of great commitment. Shepherds can have holidays, but shepherding isn’t a hobby. The elders are expected to be at services, prayer meetings and home group. Elders also show the way by ‘managing’ (1 Timothy 3:5) the church: ‘The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour…’ (1 Timothy 5:17). This will involve envisioning, encouraging, equipping, and enabling members to exercise their gifts as we know Jesus and make Jesus known together.
People are a priority for the elders of the Village Church. Prayer is also a priority. Prayer was a priority for the Chief Shepherd and so prayer is a priority for the under-shepherds. The elders prioritise praying for the members of the Village Church privately, publicly, person-to-person, and as part and parcel of their elders' meetings.