Thoughts About Elders and Members
Many congregations are without an eldership. It isn't what the Lord desires, nor what is best for any local work. Some who have had elders in the past now do not for various reasons. Yet, these churches are NOT without a Chief Shepherd -- Christ Jesus! (1 Peter 5:4) Often, men step up to accept the role of decision-making in areas of maintenance of the building, who will lead in singing, prayers, remarks at the table, serving, preaching, and teaching. When there are matters that involve all members, open discussion with the entire congregation reaches a conclusion of what is best. But the fact remains, AN ELDERSHIP IS GOD’S WAY AND GOD’S WAY IS BEST!
No preacher in and of himself is an elder and cannot pretend to be. That is what is known as a "pastorate system" and is nowhere found in the scriptures. It was acclaimed as "evangelistic authority" which is also unfounded in scripture. However, often when there is no eldership, preachers find themselves "forced" into such situations to make decisions of spiritual nature because the brethren won't, even though they should be able to rightly handle the scriptures!
Some men elevate themselves to some "self-appointed" role of leadership that usurps the authority of God and the legitimate right of brethren to think righteously for themselves. Such a man was Diotrephes (3 John), and his actions were condemned! Therefore, we learn that no individual can scripturally permit himself to be in such an exalted place, nor receive such if the brethren place him in such a role.
BRETHREN MUST WORK TOGETHER IN HARMONY WITH CHRIST! Therefore, Galatians 6:10 comes to mind as well as Colossians 1:27. Each one must do their OWN work righteously and utilize every opportunity to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ Jesus! No one needs "permission" to do good -- but everyone must be busy doing nothing less! Further, it is sinful to boast about what you've done or will do for the cause of Christ (Proverbs 27:1 -22; Ephesians 2: 8 - 10). If we're doing it for the Lord, then let the Lord receive the praise (Hebrews 6:10).
Each is responsible for the salvation of his/her own soul, and the salvation of those who are our brethren! Let us continue without strife, without animosity, and without jealousy. Let us prove our LOVE one for the other as you do and INCREASE it (1 Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1). Until such congregations have an eldership, (which we need, and which is God’s order) NEVER FORGET, we still have the Great Shepherd to Whom we all shall answer for every deed done here in the body. Muse on this reality!