Who are elders and why are they important? These are questions that some ask who are not acquainted with the church of Christ. Once again, in striving to be just like the church one reads about in the New Testament, a congregation should have elders to be fully organized as God would have it. Generally, the elders oversee and direct the affairs of the local congregation, giving special attention to the spiritual needs of the people they oversee. (Hebrews 13:7, 17) Christ is the only head of his church, both universally and locally. (Colossians 1:18) Yet, he has given delegated authority to men who can and will serve each local congregation. (Ephesians 4:11-16) These men are designated as elders, pastors, shepherds, or bishops. A few passages that emphasize their qualifications and responsibilities are Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28; I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; I Peter 5:1-4.

The New Testament church did not have any ecclesiastical organization above the local congregations. Also, the modern day pastor system with the local preacher recognized as “the pastor” cannot be found in God’s Word. The term is never used in its singular form in scripture. There was a plurality of elders in each local church, who were the overseers, shepherds, or pastors.

Richard Harp

Alfred Barnes