What is an Elder?
The ministry of Elder has its origin in the New Testament, which witnesses to the variety of models of service in the early church. Eldership is often traditional in churches who have roots in the Reformation from many years ago.
Elders share with the Minister in the pastoral care and spiritual leadership of the local church. Therefore they hold meetings together where they are tending to the needs of the congregation, and they also each have a list of church members who have been entrusted to their care. They also have representation at the Synod Meetings (the area, of which ours is East Midlands).
Eldership is a ministry of the Church and elders are ordained. However, once ordained as an elder this is a life long role, which means there can be non-serving elders in the church. They are inducted to serve in a particular congregation.
Elders engage in their ministry alongside many other commitments; whether paid work, family life, voluntary work or study. They are faithful Christians, and are also pilgrims on the way. They are trained and supported in their ministry, and continue to be ‘learners in the Kingdom of God’.
What happens in Elder’s Meeting?
The minister and elders meet regularly to oversee the mission and life of the congregation. They carry the responsibility of ensuring that the worship, work and witness of the congregation are both faithful to the Gospel and life-giving for the people and the communities they serve. A typical meeting would consist of the following:
- Worship and reflection
- Prayer for those in sorrow and joy
- Discussion about the mission of the church
- Sharing of challenges and new ideas
- Hearing of reports from different areas of church life
- Plans for the future
- Preparing for church meeting
They search for God’s will for the congregation together in the name of Christ, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
What might you expect from an Elder?
- Your elder should let you know who they are, and will get to know you in whatever way is appropriate for your situation
- Your elder is there to accompany you in your faith journey as and when required
- Your elder is available to discuss matters of faith with you and to explore new ways for you to develop and understand your faith
- Your elder will offer you pastoral support and encouragement when in times of need and through times of joy
- They will pray for you and support you during testing times
There is no one set pattern for how an elder will build relationships with those in their pastoral charge as each person or situation is different. Therefore it is important to get to know your elder so that they can help you through your faith journey, with all the challenges it may bring.