Shepherd Staffs (4)
Dorval L. McClister
Elders Planning The Work
As elders are overseers of the local church, this involves the responsibility of elders to plan the work that is needed. Generally, if nothing is planned, nothing is accomplished. In order to plan the work to be done, the elders need to meet regularly. Get together once each month for an hour or two to review past records and to plan and discuss the work. Discuss the spiritual needs of the members as those who have the responsibility to feed the flock of God. Plan for the fulfilling of these needs. If there is a subject that needs to be taught from the pulpit, ask the preacher to speak on the topic. He will be happy to prepare one or more sermons on the subject. In planning a gospel meeting there may be several subjects which need to be discussed on particular subjects. You can choose different speakers and assign them topics which will fulfill the need for knowledge on those subjects.
Plan the involvement of young Christian men in the services. Plan training classes for song leaders, teachers, and how to study, prepare, and deliver a lesson from the pulpit. Set aside a certain Wednesday evening or Sunday evening each month for younger men to speak or lead singing. Gradually increase their participation until they reach the point of taking a regular place in the worship service. This is according to the instructions of Paul to Timothy (2 Tim. 2:2).
Know The Sheep
One great mistake of elders is to unconsciously drift into a state of isolation from the members of the church. All sorts of problems arise when there is no open, free communication between the elders and the members. There are various ways in which to avoid this problem, a problem caused by the elders.
Members of the church have the right to know how the money is spent, to whom, how much, and why. They have the right to know who is going to conduct the meeting and to know the plan for the work. Elders have the responsibility to visit weak members and offer encouragement. This ought to be planned and a day (or evening) each week set aside for this purpose. When the elders meet once each month they should invite anyone who has a problem or a question to speak with them or to come to the place where the meeting is held. Encourage the members to discuss any matter and make yourselves available for the time and place to meet with them. Have one of the elders occasionally stand before the church (at beginning or ending of service) and give a report of the work, finances, or any other matter which concerns all the members. Meet often with the deacons and discuss every aspect of the work. Encourage them in their work, ask for their advice, and share with them.
Feeding The Flock Of God
Feeding the flock simply means that the elders have the responsibility to provide the milk and the meat of the word to every member of the church. An elder must be apt to teach, and if one wants to find an elder on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening, the best place to look for him should be in one of the classrooms. It is understood that the elders probably cannot do all the teaching, and it is right for elders to assign competent teachers for the classes. However, there are too many elders who elect to sit back and assign someone else to teach the class. It is excusable for an elder to request a break occasionally from the toilsome task of teaching a class, but there is no excuse when an elder of the church avoids and refuses this responsibility.
Know What Is Being Taught
Know the teachers of the classes and know the material that is being taught. Know what is taught through the tracts in the vestibule. When new tracts or new literature is received, get together and go through the material, reading it carefully. Know what is taught from the pulpit. As elders you have this responsibility.
Be Leaders. . . Not Drivers
Shepherds always go before and lead the sheep to green pastures. Most anyone can drive goats, but it takes an experienced shepherd to lead sheep. Elders are the pastors (Eph. 4:11), or shepherds, and the elders must be leaders. Don't take a back seat in this responsibility. Be a good example of leadership to the flock (1 Peter 5:3). If work needs to be done, be the first to stand up and do it. If sorrow and heartache comes to another, be first to weep with those that weep. If a brother or sister is taken to the hospital, be the first to knock on their door. If a brother or sister becomes weak, be the first to offer strength. If a sheep falls among the wolves, be the first to go out and search for the lost sheep. Be the first to assist the needy and to comfort the sorrowing. Be examples in godly living and honesty. Lead the lambs to the Chief Shepherd.
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 8, p. 242