Classification of Elders

Larry Ray Hafley
Plano, Illinois

The classification of elders is not a pleasant chore, for if all local shepherds would tend their own sheep fold this article would not be possible. Per version of scriptural order, however, has produced the need for molds and patterns which were not formed by the Holy Spirit. Paul was the first to label such men. He called them grievous wolves" (Acts 20:29).


Visionary elders are the source of all other types. Their foresight extends beyond the horizon God ordained. With their eyes closed these men can conjure up great sums of someone else's money, and with the wave of a brochure they can create instantaneous responsibility. Hence, elders of this species are "dreamers in visionary's clothing!" They are attractive in their concern for the "image" and "future of the church as a functional force in the nation." WAKE UP! Where does God express his desire for "building an image," or for a "functional force church?" Visionary elders speak "false dreams, and cause my people to err by their lies therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord" (Jer. 23:32).


Promoting elders steal the scheme of the visionary. The job is "to get the ball rolling," or to "put the church on the march." The only problem lies in finding a "patsy" for their promotion. Of course, a first-rate "plant" (church building) is necessary to coordinate the Campaign Director's Staff, Committee Heads, and their "Kick-Off Team." Promoting elders wear funny hats and specialize in crepe paper, balloons, and denominational styled buttons that everyone is to wear. (Did someone mention "the mark of the beast?!") What promoters lack in vision they make up for in unscriptural imagination. Thus, they succeed in putting the church "on the march" into the marsh and mire of man.


These are the "patsies" promoters seek. They get everything "third-handed," for it has already been mangled by their predecessors in the vision and promotion departments. Sponsoring elders have the facilities necessary and what they lack in funds they will attain because they have no shame. It does not bother them to send out men whose sole responsibility is to beg more money.

A "Patsy" is a "set-up" man. Sponsoring elders have been deluded and duped (set-up) by the term "sponsor." Actually they are the hub of centralized catholic control. That sounds a bit more frightening than "sponsor," does it not? But we must proceed with our classification.


Sometimes these elders are termed "responsive." However, that does not conceal the fact that they "assume oversight" which would be perfectly right if it were "assigned oversight." Assumers have Pinocchio's nose (A big one) and DeGaulle's problem. (They cannot keep it out of other people's business.)

The Pope assumes he is the universal bishop and successor of the Apostle Peter, but his state is like that of the assuming elders. He has assumed an assumption, presumed a presumption, and been deceived by a deception!


This is the lowest form of elders. Lacking vision and an area-wide outpost to oversee, these men are the helpless pawns of the kingmakers. Their local efforts outside the regular worship services are the results of their monthly contribution which is sent to the brotherhood sponsors in Texas, Louisiana, or California. Occasionally they will advertise their own meetings and send a group to a Youth Rally somewhere, but otherwise they lead a "ho-hum" existence which consists in keeping the brotherhood coffers full.

Contributing elders can somehow arrange for "our college songsters" to "perform for us," and then put them up for the night, but, true to form, they send them on their way the next morning "with a note of appreciation ($$) from brethren (church's treasury) here."


These are known as do-nothing elders because they do nothing that they cannot find authorized in God, s word. They are visionary enough to see their responsibilities, promote and sponsor their assigned work, and watch that they contribute according to the scriptural pattern.

May 1969