Elders are known often as the "heart" of a congregation. This concept comes from Acts and the Epistles as elders were appointed as spiritual caretakers in the early church. The word "elder" comes from the Greek "presbuteros," which is also translated commonly as "pastor" or "bishop." In the early church, elders were the local pastors of their congregations. In today's church, elders are in many ways co-pastors alongside the appointed pastor.
Elders are charged to "take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit had made you guardians, to feed the church of the Lord which he obtained with his own blood" (Acts 20:28). Elders are to be concerned with the pastoral ministry of the church. Their function involves meeting the spiritual needs of the congregation. They are co-workers with the ministers of the congregation.
Responsibilities of Elders include:
A. Setting an example for all members in the meaning of faithful, obedient discipleship and stewardship
B. Visiting the congregation in their homes, hospitals, etc.
C. Providing leadership and spiritual counsel
D. Visiting prospective members
E. Acting as a reconciling group between parties in conflict, with the power to determine the settlement when such parties agree to allow the elders to make such a decision
F. Presiding at the Lord's Table
G. Working closely with the ministers of the church in all spiritual matters and providing oversight in the congregation's life
H. Being part of the Pulpit Committee when the need arises
I. Meeting as needed to assess the spiritual climate of the congregation
J. Advising any church group concerning their spiritual responsibilities
K. Serving on the Board and/or various committees when called to do so
L. Procure supply ministers when the need arises
Elder Emeritus- An elder may be named Elder Emeritus upon his or her request and with the approval of the Order of Elders. Elders Emeritus shall have all the rights and privileges of the eldership and may choose an area of service for continuing ministry. Elders Emeritus may be excused from meetings and stated responsibilities, but when called upon, they will become part of the decision making process of the eldership.