Fellowship practices “Elder rule” in how we govern ourselves. The Scriptures teach that Elders (or overseers or shepherds) are responsible for the health and direction of the church. Elders are nominated by the body and selected by the existing Elder Board. The spiritual qualifications for Elder are found in I Timothy 3:1-16 and Titus 1:5-9. The assembly was to recognize those who were spiritually qualified for church leadership. These individuals were then to minister to the church by godly service and rule. Our staff and community group leaders perform the function of carrying out the directional decisions of the Elder Board.
What is the task of the elder?
(Printable version of the Function and Nature of Elders)
Fortunately, the Scripture is not silent concerning the specified functions that characterize the nature of the office of elder. Note as well, these are shared areas of ministry functions.
Summary: Although the New Testament is flexible and uses interchangeably elder, overseer, and shepherd, the best description of the office of church leadership is elder. Therefore, Fellowship has a Board of Elders. Additionally, we have noted the necessity for a plurality of elders. Our Biblical conviction is that the Bible supports mutuality of ministry and plurality of leadership. Seven specific ministry functions are stated and briefly defined. These Biblical functions instruct the type of ministry the elder is to have.
Please Note: The Elders of Fellowship have rewritten the church’s “bylaws” (1988). A distinction between the Elder Board and Shepherding Elders was made. The Elder Board’s responsibility is to set the spiritual, theological, and philosophical direction of the church. Their role and function has been described above. Shepherding Elders are men who are Biblically qualified for the office, have been recognized by the church body, and function in the “Shepherding Elder Ministry” as described by the Board of Elders. These men focus on the shepherding rather than overseeing function. They are extensions of the Elder Board, but do not meet to set policy or direction..