The Oversight

Ray F. Dively
Baden, Pennsylvania

The scriptures states in 1 Peter 5:2, "Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight. . . ." The elders have the oversight of only one congregation and that is the local congregation of which they are members. Today in the church this is not so in many congregations. Either elders are overseeing much more than the local congregation or they are not even overseeing the local congregation.

In some churches the elders and men have their monthly business meeting together. The decisions are made by all the men present and not by the elders. All things are decided by voting. The elders are not overseeing the congregation but the men are. In some churches the elders and deacons meet together and all make decisions. The deacons have equal voice with the elders. Both of these situations are unscriptural.

Then there is the other extreme, which is also unscriptural. Elders have the oversight of just about everything. I will mention but a few. One of the most common is for the elders to have the oversight of preachers in foreign lands, which they help to support. They should know and trust the preachers before they are sent out. When a preacher goes overseas he is no longer a member of a congregation in the United States and therefore not under the oversight of any elders in the United States.

I receive reports from a native preacher in Japan and he lists the elders of a church in Texas as his elders. In February this year the church of Christ in Valdosta, Georgia took the oversight of the Pan American Bible School in the Canal Zone of Panama. The school itself is unscriptural because it is a human institution doing the work of the church.

If one is going to Pakistan soon he should contact the elders of Pinellas Park, Florida about the church property and the elders at Getwell Road in Memphis about the car and household items left in Lahore.

In the February, 1972 issue of the Pepperdine News, a publication of Pepperdine University, was the following: "The Crenshaw Church of Christ has agreed to take the oversight of Pepperdines Campus Advance for Christ, it was announced Sunday. The church will assume legal responsibility for the CA program on the Vermont campus and will contribute $25.00 monthly to help pay the cost for guest speakers and refreshments following the Bible studies."

The elders of sponsoring churches and elders over the Herald of Truth and World Radio take the oversight of part of the work of other churches. This has led to the elders of one congregation taking the oversight completely of the other congregations. I have read in a report from Africa where the elders of a church in the United States oversees a church in Africa.

Here are two examples of this happening in the United States. From the Sunset Visitor of the Sunset Church of Christ in Dallas, Texas we quote: "The Garza Avenue congregation, tile work among the colored brethren, presents one of our finest challenges . . . The Sunset Eldership, with your approval and encouragement has assumed the oversight of the good work. The elders have agreed to assume the oversight of the Graza Ave. congregation. ."

And this from the Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio, Texas: "The leaders of the Grove Avenue church approached the Oak Hill elders about assuming the oversight of that congregation. Our Elders accepted this responsibility. . . So, effective March 1, 1970, the Oak Hills church will assume responsibility for the work at Grove Avenue."

Many more examples could be given. The beat goes on and on. The apostle Paul stated in Acts 20:28-30 that the elders would lead tile flock into apostasy. Let those who are using the office of an elder unscripturally get back to the Bible, follow the pattern and restore the autonomy of the local church.

February 1, 1973