Questions on Elders

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Dr Mike Kear

Puritan Board Freshman
Brethren, I need some opinions and recommendations about elders. Coming from a Baptist background I have been exposed almost exclusively to the idea and practice of Single Pastor Congregationalism. However, I have been convinced over the years that a plurality of elders is more biblical. But I have questions on a practical and local level. For instance, which is more correct in a local church context: an elder ruled church or an elder led congregationalism? Can a church be Presbyterian and yet not under submission to a larger ecclesiastical oversight (a presbytery)?

Secondly, what books on elders/eldership would you recommend for someone like me whose previous training in ecclesiology has been exclusively Single Pastor Congregationalism? :book2:
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Brethren, I need some opinions and recommendations about elders. Coming from a Baptist background I have been exposed almost exclusively to the idea and practice of Single Pastor Congregationalism. However, I have been convinced over the years that a plurality of elders is more biblical. But I have questions on a practical and local level. For instance, which is more correct in a local church context: an elder ruled church or an elder led congregationalism? Can a church be Presbyterian and yet not under submission to a larger ecclesiastical oversight (a presbytery)?

Secondly, what books on elders/eldership would you recommend for someone like me whose previous training in ecclesiology has been exclusively Single Pastor Congregationalism? :book2:

Within Presbyterianism, the Session (which is a court of the church), is made up of Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders (the Ministers) who have jurisdiction over the congregation and each member of that congregation. A Presbytery is made up of RE's and TE's from a common region and the Presbytery has original jurisdiction over the TE's in that Presbytery (TE's are not members of the local congregation) and a Session of a church in that Presbytery.

In your case, the Ruling Elders and the Minister would work as a Session and have jurisdiction over the congregation. The Session would have the responsibility of overseeing all the activities of the congregation including Worship, Sunday School, and what is taught and preached. Presbyterianism does require higher courts like a Presbytery or Synod. Congregationalists would not be considered Presbyterian since there is no further oversight beyond the Session. For further explanation, I would recommend reading the PCA and OPC Book of Church Order for more details.

Also, do the By-Laws of your church require subscription to a confession in regards to ordination?

As far as other info on Elders, I am positive that Andrew "Links" Myers will be able to provide a number of links to articles on the Web that can help. ;)
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I found "Biblical Eldership" by Strauch to be a great help and is fairly easy to read if you want to do some kind of group Bible Study.

We are a Baptist church similar to the description that Joshua made.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
One need not invest all power in the elders in order to have a plurality of elders. And elder-led congregationalism seems best. From the NT, it appears the the elder leads even while the congregation retains certain powers such as admittance and disbarrment from fellowship.
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
I believe plurality of elders in elder-led congregationalism is the most biblical model. The best defense I've read is by Mark Dever in his booklet "A Display of God's Glory," and is available in PDF for free.

https://secure2.convio.net/ccnmm/si...EW_PRODUCT=true&product_id=1003&store_id=1301

To summarize Dever's argument for elder-led congregationalism:

1) Matters of Dispute between Christians
a) In Matthew 18:15-17, the church, i.e. the local congregation, is the final judicatory, not a bishop or presbytery.
b) In Acts 6:1-5, the church is given the task of choosing the deacons.
c) In 1 Corinthians 5:12, Christians are said to judge those inside the church.

2) Matters of Doctrine
a) In Galatians 1:8-9, Paul says Christians are to judge gospel preachers, even Paul himself.
b) in 2 Timothy 4:3, Paul particularly holds responsible the lay Christians for gathering teachers to themselves who preach what they want to hear.

3) Matters of Discipline
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul calls on the entire congregation (not the elders) to act in discipline against the man.

4) Matters of Church Membership
In 2 Corinthians 2:6-8, Paul recognizes the majority of the Corinthians (implying a vote of exclusion) inflicted a punishment on the man, and exhorts (not commands) the Corinthians to bring the man back into fellowship.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian

:ditto:

Brethren, I need some opinions and recommendations about elders. Coming from a Baptist background I have been exposed almost exclusively to the idea and practice of Single Pastor Congregationalism. However, I have been convinced over the years that a plurality of elders is more biblical. But I have questions on a practical and local level. For instance, which is more correct in a local church context: an elder ruled church or an elder led congregationalism? Can a church be Presbyterian and yet not under submission to a larger ecclesiastical oversight (a presbytery)?

Secondly, what books on elders/eldership would you recommend for someone like me whose previous training in ecclesiology has been exclusively Single Pastor Congregationalism? :book2:

Within Presbyterianism, the Session (which is a court of the church), is made up of Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders (the Ministers) who have jurisdiction over the congregation and each member of that congregation. A Presbytery is made up of RE's and TE's from a common region and the Presbytery has original jurisdiction over the TE's in that Presbytery (TE's are not members of the local congregation) and a Session of a church in that Presbytery.

In your case, the Ruling Elders and the Minister would work as a Session and have jurisdiction over the congregation. The Session would have the responsibility of overseeing all the activities of the congregation including Worship, Sunday School, and what is taught and preached. Presbyterianism does require higher courts like a Presbytery or Synod. Congregationalists would not be considered Presbyterian since there is no further oversight beyond the Session. For further explanation, I would recommend reading the PCA and OPC Book of Church Order for more details.

Also, do the By-Laws of your church require subscription to a confession in regards to ordination?

As far as other info on Elders, I am positive that Andrew "Links" Myers will be able to provide a number of links to articles on the Web that can help. ;)

:pilgrim: Ok, here are a few links from a previous thread. I have also provided a number of links to classic works on eldership and other aspects of Presbyterian polity in the Ecclesiology forum of the links manager.
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
Phil Netwon's Elders in Congregational Life is excellent.

I have this book as well. It is excellent, but it is more concerned with the practical aspects of moving a congregationally governed single-pastor church towards a plurality of elders, and how it is supposed to function. As such, it is highly useful for Baptists making the transition.

However, unlike the Dever booklet, it doesn't spend much time justifying congregational government vs. Presbyterianism or elder rule, but rather assumes it.
 
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