I take the emphasis here to be that of the obligation of the elders as a group to care for the congregation under their care. The need for collective pastoral care may be inferred from the following considerations. The elders are a group of men, each having differing gifts, ministries, and degrees of effectiveness cf. Even the elders, as a group, may lack all the gifts necessary for shepherding the flock. Ultimately, it is only the whole body that can carry out the work of our Lord. Elders not only shepherd corporately or collectively i.
A shepherd guards a flock, not a single sheep.
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In the passages in Acts 20 and 1 Peter 5, the elders are told to shepherd the flock. This in no way excludes individual ministry on the part of elders, or others. But only the elders collectively are accountable for the overall care of the church. They are responsible to direct the broad policies and make the decisions that affect the body as a whole. While the elders have a collective function, it is assumed that each elder will also have a personal pastoral ministry as well cf.
One evidence of the responsibility for pastoral care being broader than that of elders alone is the fact that the gift of pastor-teacher Ephesians 4: The most compelling evidence that forces us to conclude that all Christians are to pastor one another comes from the commands of Scripture to practice those functions that comprise pastoral care. It is especially noteworthy that in the passage in 1 Thessalonians, Paul has spoken of church leaders in the immediately preceding verses.
The congregation was instructed to appreciate them and esteem them highly vv. We would have expected verses 14 and 15 to be addressed to the elders, but such is not the case. The same brethren are addressed in verses 12 and While the elders are surely to be included in the exhortation of verses 14 and 15, the congregation at large is addressed. How can we put all these various facts of truth together? How is the entire congregation to be pastored by the elders in such a way as to allow all the members of the local church to minister to one another?
The answer is found in the relationship between the two terms, pastor and overseer. Watch out for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers , to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son Acts For you were going astray like sheep but now you have turned back to the shepherd and guardian [Bishop or Overseer] of your souls 1 Peter 2: While I am not suggesting that these two terms are synonymous, I would assert that they are directly related to each other.
I believe that pastor care is provided for the whole flock that is the local congregation of God when the elders collectively manage or oversee the ministry of each of its members. Shepherding is the goal, while management is the means, so far as the elders are concerned. Look again at Acts Do you see the point? The Holy Spirit appoints elders as overseers so that they can shepherd the flock of God.
Pastoral care is provided for the flock when the elders properly manage and the flock ministers. Is this not what we see taking place in Acts chapter 6? I remember going to lunch with an elder of a local church and an inquisitive seminary student.
The Pastoral Ministry: An Introduction to the Pastoral Office and Gift
The student asked this elder how many people he felt he could personally pastor. In any church, there are going to be far too few elders to meet the pastoral needs of the congregation, even if they were capable of meeting these needs as an individual. The only solution is for the elders to manage the flock in such a way as to encourage and equip all the saints for the work of ministry.
Just how are the saints equipped for ministry? By and large, the summary answer is this: But we must pursue this further by suggesting some of the functions of good management. Two of the primary means of equipping the saints for ministry are suggested in Acts But we must devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word Acts 6: Good management always supplies those who are to serve with the means to accomplish the task. In the realm of Christian service, two of the primary means are prayer and biblical instruction. Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.
By praying for the flock to the One Who equips the flock, Christians are empowered and equipped for ministry to one another. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work 2 Timothy 3: Another means of encouraging and equipping the saints is by our own example in ministering to others:.
Remember those who led you, who spoke the Word of God to you; and considering the outcome of their way of life, imitate their faith Hebrews Nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock 1 Peter 5: While the Scriptures do not dogmatically teach this, they do imply that the elders should encourage the saints to minister by publicly recognizing the gifts and ministries of individuals in the body. And Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles which translated means, Son of Encouragement ,.
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Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery 1 Timothy 4: Now I realize that this text does not mention any as being elders, though it would appear that this call included the leadership of the church at Antioch. It is interesting, however, that the Holy Spirit does not specify what the work is to which these men have been called. I would suggest that the Spirit confirmed the calling and ministry of these two men by including the leaders of the church in identifying or confirming the ministry to which these two had been called, and in which I assume they had proven themselves effective.
While we do not have time to pursue other ways in which the elders would exercise managerial functions to equip the flock for ministry one to another, those mentioned above are surely not all-inclusive, but simply suggestive. A serious error is distressingly common when it comes to the relationship of elders and deacons concerning the work of the pastoral care of the flock. Some suppose wrongly that the elders alone are to pastor the flock.
The elders, then, are responsible for the spiritual care of the flock, and the deacons take up the merely physical tasks. As a deacon in our church put it:. Nothing could be more wrong. Several observations will help to clarify this point:. This is implied rather clearly in Acts 20, where Paul is instructing the elders referring to his ministry:. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me.
Shepherding the flock implies seeing that every need of the flock is met. In Acts 6, the apostles 6 were informed of the neglect of the Hellenistic widows, and they responded in such a way that we must assume the responsibility was ultimately theirs. They considered the problem and laid down guidelines for its solution. In Acts 11, we are told of the prophets who came to Antioch and prophesied of a coming famine in Judea.
The saints at Antioch responded by taking up a collection, and this they sent to the elders Acts In Acts 6, the qualifications for the seven assistants were unusually high, especially so, if one looks at these men only as table waiters:. But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task Acts 6: We cannot pass over the fact that deacons, like elders, must have proven themselves to be good managers:.
Let deacons be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households 1 Timothy 3: If the qualifications of deacons are so high, can it be that their work is that different from that of elders? While the tasks performed by the elders are well covered by the Scriptures 8 , apart from the probable reference in Acts 6, no duties are outlined in the New Testament. The only satisfying explanation is that the duties of the deacons are similar to those of the elders; specifically, the deacons are to be assistants of the elders.
In this case, there is no need for any further discussion of the duties of deacons other than what is said of the elders. We have already shown that the way the elders pastor the flock is by overseeing or managing the ministry of the flock to one another. Also, we have observed that deacons as well as elders must meet the qualification of being good managers in their own homes. All of this inclines us to the conclusion that deacons help the elders by assisting them in the administration of the flock.
The best proof text is that passage which is often employed to prove the opposite point. Many turn to Acts 6 to show that the apostles delegated physical matters to the deacons, while keeping the spiritual task for themselves.
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It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word Acts 6: We must begin by accepting the fact that the apostles recognized the neglect of the Hellenistic widows as ultimately their responsibility.
They determined that the complaint was legitimate, and they outlined the solution of the problem. The elders assumed the responsibility for the entire problem, which was both physical and spiritual. There is a great difference between the responsibility of doing and that of getting it done.
One is ministration, while the other is administration. Kindle Edition , 0 pages. Published September 9th by Abundant Truth Publishing.
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Jan 07, Thurman Gorman Jr. Very informative and timely. Provided valuable insight needed for a Pastors to have and use as they serves the flock of God which is the Church. Doris Bailey rated it it was amazing Nov 24, Ed Guadalupe rated it it was amazing Nov 19, Lyzette Boyce rated it it was amazing Mar 25, Charline Gracy Caldwell rated it really liked it Nov 19, Cheryl Ellis rated it it was amazing Mar 18, Presto rated it liked it Jan 23, Tjwood marked it as to-read Feb 05, William Ballard marked it as to-read Jun 06, Prayer 2 of 2 Church Functions: Ministering to Itself in Love 1 of 2 Church Functions: Ministering to Itself in Love 2 of 2 Church Functions: Corrective Discipline 1 of 3 Church Functions: Corrective Discipline 2 of 3 Church Functions: Corrective Discipline 3 of 3 Church Functions: Inter-Church Relationships 1 of 2 Church Functions: Inter-Church Relationships 2 of 2 Church Functions: Evangelizing 1 of 3 Church Functions: Evangelizing 2 of 3 Church Functions: Evangelizing 3 of 3 Church Offices: Theology of the Eldership 1 of 2 Church Offices: Theology of the Eldership 2 of 2 Church Offices: Functioning of a Biblical Eldership Church Offices: The Diaconate 1 of 2 Church Offices: The Diaconate 2 of 2 Church Functions: Pastoral Intercessory Prayer 1 of 2 Church Functions: Necessity and Relative Priority Counseling: Framework, Goals, Suggested Method Counseling: Presuppositions with Respect to Counsel Given Counseling: The Overarching Presupposition Counseling: