Church Leadership and the Home Church
Part 1:What the Bible Teaches About Church Leadership
By David Crank
(from Volume 2 Issue 1 of Unless the Lord ... Magazine)
A key question that arises when considering forming a home or house church is that of church leadership. Can a church be started without a pastor? How would a very small church support a pastor? If there is no pastor, who will lead the church? Who will preach? Before we can adequately answer these questions, we must deal with the topic of church leadership in general.
The Protestant Reformers in the 1500s were facing a Catholic church built upon centuries of tradition. The leadership of the church was patterned much more after the Jewish priesthood than any New Testament pattern. There was a high priest (the Pope) and a vast separation between priesthood and the laity.
The Reformers faced a huge task in setting aside 1500 years of traditions and extra Biblical teaching to return to the major doctrines of the Bible. Of lesser importance was restoring the New Testament pattern of leadership and church organization. Efforts were made in this area, but there was more uncertainty and disagreement on this topic and the clergy / laity distinctions ran very deep.
We still face such difficulties today. Some of the Catholic traditions remain to lesser degrees in many Protestant churches. Denominations have each developed their own traditions over several hundred years. A lot of the practice in this area is more based upon tradition than an objective reexamination of the New Testament for the patterns we should follow.
Now admittedly, we will not all come to agreement from an objective evaluation of the Scriptures. Some will argue that we must precisely follow the examples we find and add nothing to them. Others will see value in the examples but argue the church has flexibility in this area. And there is always the temptation to interpret the Scriptures with bias, supporting your already established beliefs.
This is not a topic that is covered extensively in the New Testament (perhaps a point supporting some flexibility on our part). Much of what can be gleaned is from many brief and widely scattered passages, many of which are providing examples of what the first century church did, rather than providing definitive instruction concerning what we should all do.
So we may never agree on all the details. But to adequately address the questions of leadership in a home church, we need to first try to establish what the New Testament teaches verses what is church traditions added since (whether good or bad). As always, you should study these things for yourself to see if they are so, and reach your own conclusions.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT CHURCH LEADERSHIP?
Church Leaders Found in the New Testament
Following are different terms used in the NT for those in various leadership or ministry roles. Let's look at each of these briefly to see what they are. (The following is derived primarily from Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).
Apostles. This is the Greek 'apostolos' meaning "one sent forth", or a delegate, an ambassador of the gospel. Jesus described Himself as an 'apostolos', sent forth from God (Jn 17:3). His twelve disciples were called apostles as were also Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Epaphroditus, and others. The term 'apostle' sometimes designated those specifically chosen and sent forth by Jesus as His representatives (the twelve plus Paul). These men spoke with direct authority from the Lord and were the primary authors of the New Testament.
However, at other times, "apostle" was used in a broader sense, referring to those commissioned and sent out by churches as missionaries. Paul's coworkers were referred to as apostles but clearly lacked the authority of either Paul or the twelve. Their role was as traveling evangelists/preachers and church planters. They did not seem to remain long in any one location, leaving the ongoing leadership of the new churches to local leaders.
Prophets. This is the Greek 'prophetes' meaning "one who speaks forth or openly" or "a proclaimer of a divine message". This same word is used in the NT to also describe the Old Testament prophets. The example of a church prophet predicting the future famine (Acts 11:27-28) supports the view that these prophets received direct revelation from God, even as Old Testament prophets did. Prophets are thrice mentioned in a position just following apostles. (Eph 2:20 "built upon the foundation of the apostles & prophets"; 1 Cor 12:28 "first apostles, second prophets, third teachers"; and Eph 3:5 "revealed to His holy apostles and prophets"). I don't wish to get into the arguments about whether or not such prophets are in the church today. Suffice it to say that there were prophets in the early church who seem to have had a role in guiding the church.
Preachers & Preaching. 'Preacher' is the Greek 'keru' meaning "herald". The word translated preaching, 'euaggelizo', means to announce good news. 'Kataggello', meaning "to proclaim", is also translated in the KJV as ‘preach’ in Col 1:28.
The word for 'preaching' is the verb evangelize, from which the term “evangelist” is derived. So those who preached were 'heralds' who proclaimed the good news (the gospel). The work of preachers was that of evangelism, proclaiming the gospel to unbelievers, generally in public forums. Paul says he was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher (1 Tim 2:7 & 2 Tim 1:11). Philip, called the evangelist in Acts 21:8, was often preaching/evangelizing (Acts 8:12,40). The apostles, Paul, Barnabas and many unnamed brethren are described as preaching the gospel (Acts 5:42; 8:4; 11:20; 15:35). Timothy was charged by Paul to preach the word (2 Tim 4:2) and in 2 Tim 4:5, to do the work of an evangelist. Paul says he was sent to preach, not to baptize (1 Cor 1:17). In 1 Tim 5:17, elders who rule well and work hard at both preaching and teaching are mentioned.
The New Testament seems to use the term "preacher" in a more restrictive way than we do today. Much of what we call preaching is actually a form of teaching directed at believers. Preaching in the NT seems most always to mean evangelism. Preachers preached to the unsaved, while teachers taught the saved. The NT "preacher" is essentially the same as our "evangelist".
Apostles, deacons, elders, even those with no 'position' in the church preached the gospel. Some believers were especially gifted by God for evangelism (Eph 4:11). Paul was specifically called by God to be an apostle and preacher to the Gentiles (Rom 1:1; Acts 16:10, etc.). Though some were clearly called to a ministry of preaching / evangelism, this did not stop others from preaching the gospel as well.
Evangelists. This is the Greek 'euaggelistes' meaning a "messenger of good", thus a preacher of the gospel. This is the noun form of 'euaggelizo', mentioned above as most usually translated as "preaching". 'Evangelists' and 'preachers' appear to be the same.
Elders. This is the Greek 'presbuteros'. It means "older". It appears to be used in two different ways. It sometimes refers to one person being older than another (Lk 15:25, Jn 8:9, 1 Tim 5:2). At other times it refers to a position of leadership. In the time of Moses, elders were the heads or leaders of the tribes of Israel. Among the Jews of Jesus' day, they were listed as leaders with the chief priests and the scribes (Matt 16:21 & 26:47). Within the church, 'elder' is often used for those appointed to have the spiritual care and exercise oversight over the churches (more to follow on this point).
Bishops/Overseers. This is the Greek 'episkopos', meaning "to look or watch over", i.e. an "overseer". The King James version translates as 'bishops' while others use the term 'overseers'. The meaning of these two English words is the same. Detailed qualifications for this position are provided by Paul in 1Tim 3 and Titus 1. Bishop / Overseer appears to be another name used for Elder (see following discussion).
Deacons. This is the Greek 'diakonos', meaning an attendant or a servant. In the NT it sometimes refers to domestic servants (John 2:5,9); or civil rulers (Rom 13:4); to Christ (Rom 15:8 & Gal 2:17); or to any followers of Christ engaged in His service. Paul is also referred to by this word (translated 'minister') in Eph 3:7 and in Col 1:23,25.
'Deacons' is also used for an appointed church position with qualifications similar to those for elders (1 Tim 3:8,12). Both overseers and deacons are mentioned in the address of the book of Philippians (Phil 1:1). No indication of the deacons' duties is given beyond what the term implies and the early example of the seven appointed in Acts 6:1-7. From this example in Acts along with church tradition, deacons were seen as helpers to the elders, especially in caring for the poor. No need to appoint deacons is mentioned in the several places where Paul was concerned about appointing elders. Though an honored position of service within the church (1 Tim 3:13), they appear less important than elders and were possibly appointed only when needed. Given the similar qualifications, many deacons may have later been chosen as elders.
Pastors. This is the Greek 'poimen' meaning "a shepherd, one who tends herds or flocks". It is used metaphorically of Christian "pastors" who guide and feed the "flock" of the church. This shepherding service was to be performed by the elders/bishops/overseers (see Acts 20:17 coupled with 20:28). This view is also supported in 1 Peter 5:1-2 where the elders are charged with tending the flock. Only once does the term 'pastor' appear in the NT, referring to a church leader ( Eph 4:11). However, the verb for shepherding, 'poimaino', occurs more frequently, such as in: 1 Pet 5:2; Acts 20:28; and John 21:16.
Teachers. This is the Greek 'didaskalos' meaning "a teacher" or "instructor". It is frequently translated as "Master" as a title of address for Christ (e.g. Matt 8:19; Mark 4:38, and many others). Paul refers to himself as a teacher, among other things, in 1 Tim 2:7. In Ephesians 4:11 'pastor' and 'teacher' are associated together, implying to many that the pastors are also teachers. Teachers are also named as church leaders in Acts 13:1 and James cautions against too many desiring to be teachers in James 3:1.
Ministers. This is the Greek 'leitourgos', meaning "a public servant, minister". In the New Testament it is used of Christ (Heb 8:2), of angels (Heb 1:7), of Paul (Rom 15:16), Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25) , and of earthly rulers (Rom 13:6).
Leaders. This is the Greek 'hegeomai' meaning "to lead". It is used in Heb 13:7, 17, and 24. The leaders mentioned in Hebrews 13 are referred to as the ones who "spoke the word of God to you" and as "those who keep watch over your soul", thus identifying them with the ministries of preaching, teaching and oversight (i.e. the elders/overseers or possibly missionaries/evangelists).
There is another word, 'proistemi', that is translated as 'lead' or 'rule' and means "to stand before", hence, "to lead". It is used in Romans 12:8 when speaking of gifts and "he that ruleth” (or leads). It is also used in 1 Tim 5:17, speaking of elders who rule well.
Is Elder really a position in the church, or just older believers? Some believe that "elder" always refers to those who are older and not to an appointed position in the church. It is sometimes argued that all the older men were to shepherd and teach the church and that the qualifications in 1 Timothy and Titus were just the ideals all should strive towards.
Examining these various passages, I find it hard to deny an office or responsibility of elder. Titus 1:5 clearly describes an appointment (or ordination) of men to be elders, with very specific qualifications being required. Inevitably many of the older men would not be qualified. Likewise the other passages seem to point to specific assigned responsibility entrusted to faithful men, not a duty that falls upon all of a certain age. Therefore I believe "elder" does refer to a key leadership position within the church for which specific men are chosen. The use of the term implies that older men were generally the more likely candidates, but I find nothing that specifically requires them to be older.
Are Elders and Bishops/Overseers the same? Elders (presbuteros) and bishops/ overseers (episkopos) seem to be used interchangeably to refer to the same office and responsibility. In Titus 1:5-11, Titus is told to appoint "elders" in every city, in verse 5, and then the same are referred to as "bishops/overseers" in verse 7. Also the qualifications listed in Titus immediately following the term "elders" closely parallel those prescribed in 1 Tim 3 for the "bishops/ overseers". From this passage alone it seems very hard to maintain there is any difference between the two. Acts 20:17-31 also strongly supports the view that these are the same. In verses 17 and 18, we are told that Paul called the "elders" of the church in Ephesus to come to him. Then in speaking to them in verse 28, he exhorts them and refers to them all as "bishops/ overseers". In 1 Timothy 3, qualifications are listed for only two offices, bishop and deacon - there is no list given for a separate office of elder. In Philippians 1:1 Paul greets but two classes of church officers, bishops/overseers and deacons. It seems very hard to construct a good argument supporting a difference between elder and bishop in the NT.
Some ask, if these two are the same, why are there two different terms? It is explained that the term "elder" was the traditional term referring to leaders in public affairs both in Jewish society and Greek. These were generally older men who were regarded as leaders within their clan, tribe, or city. The term "elder" implied men of maturity and wisdom who were proven in their abilities. The term "bishop" or "overseer" was a term descriptive of the elder's responsibility - the oversight or supervision of the church. The use of the two different terms provided a fuller picture with emphasis both on their qualifications and their responsibility.
What are Pastors? Though we use this term constantly, it is used but once in the NT in the sense of a church leader (Eph 4:11). Here we are told that the church was given apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors/teachers for the building up of the saints. However, the verb form of this same word, meaning to pastor/shepherd a flock, is used multiple times in describing the responsibility of elders/bishops/overseers (1 Pet 5:1-4; Acts 20:28).
In the New Testament, the terms that are used to describe the church leaders who are responsible for shepherding the church are elder or bishop/overseer. "Pastor" does not appear to be a separate office but rather a function and gifting of the elders.
Plurality of Elders. Throughout the NT elders/bishops/overseers are referred to in the plural, creating a strong implication that the usual pattern was to appoint multiple men in this role within each church.
In Acts 20:17 we see Paul sending for the elders (plural) from the church (singular) in Ephesus. Titus, in Titus 1:5, is instructed to appoint elders (plural) in every city (singular). In 1 Tim 4:14 we hear how the presbytery (same word as ‘elders’ plural) laid hands on Timothy. In Phil 1:1 Paul addresses the bishops/ overseers (plural) in the church of Philippi. In James 5:14, we are urged to call for the elders (plural) of the church when we are sick. Even when the terms "elder" and "bishop" are not used, we see reference to plurality of leadership (i.e. Acts 13:1-2: five leaders of the church at Antioch, no one identified as the primary authority.).
There are examples of a missionary /church planter leading a new church for a brief time. But then the missionary departs and entrusts the church to a group of elders, with no one man as the leader. Might the "plural" passages be interpreted as indicating there were multiple churches in each city and when elders were assembled, there was just one elder per church? No, "churches" is consistently used when multiple cities are involved, such as a whole province (Asia 1 Cor 16:19 & Rev 1:4; Macedonia 1 Cor 8:1; Galatia 1Cor 16:1 & Gal 1:2). When a single city is referred to, the word is always "church" in the singular (many examples: Acts 8:1; 11:26; 13:1; 14:27; 18:22; etc.). Also in Acts 14:23, the statement, "they appointed elders for them in every church", strongly argues for multiple elders appointed in each church.
Did no church have but a single elder? We are not given examples of any, but that doesn't mean it never happened. There is no command from Paul stating there must be a certain number of elders appointed per church. However, the command to appoint elders (plural), at least argues that multiple was both the norm and the preferred.
Some have argued for singular church leadership from the letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. John is repeatedly instructed to write to the "angel of the church of …". The word for angel means messenger and some argue it would be better translated as such here. But even if this is the better translation, it is quite a leap to assume that "messenger" equates to a singular bishop/elder who rules over the church in that city. "Messenger" would more likely refer to a designated correspondent in each church to whom letters would be delivered to. This might be any one of the elders or someone else designated by them.
Others have argued for a single bishop from the example of James during the council at Jerusalem in Acts 15. Was James here functioning as THE bishop of Jerusalem? He is clearly presented as being a very highly respected leader in the Jerusalem church, even comparable to Peter. However, in reading the whole account, he seems to be acting more as a moderator than as the authority over all the elders and apostles who came together. Many appear to state their views (even the apostle Peter), but none asserts himself to decide the matter by himself. They seem to seek a consensus. James suggests a resolution (verses 19-21), which the whole group agrees to in verse 22.
Equality of Elders. Jesus taught the apostles that they were all brothers and none was to assume a title of Rabbi or Master or Leader or Father (Matt 23:8-12). Also in this passage and in Luke 22:25-27, Jesus taught them not to exalt themselves and that the greatest among them shall be like a servant. They were not to lord it over one another. Jesus insisted that HE was the singular head of the church, no one of the apostles was greater - all were brothers.
Elders likewise were appointed without any indication of one being superior to the others. They too were to function as brothers. Within any group of elders there may be some who exhibit a closer walk or more wisdom than others. Likewise one might be more gifted in organization and administrative matters. He might be selected by the others to facilitate the meetings or to handle certain organizational responsibilities. In a large church with numerous elders, there might be a practical necessity for some subset of the group to be empowered to make certain decisions without first consulting all the elders. But this does not require that the subset be put in authority over the others. None of these situations make one elder the superior to the rest or place him in a position of authority over them.
Role of Elders. The elders/bishops were charged with oversight and shepherding the church. They are to: teach the flock (Eph 4:11; 1 Thess 5:12; 1 Tim 3:2), to shepherd the flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:2), to correct false doctrine / guard against false teachers (Acts 20:28-13; Titus 1:9), to exercise oversight without lording over (1 Pet 5:2), and to pray over the sick (Ja 5:14-15). Some are also mentioned as preaching the gospel (evangelism) (1 Tim 5:17).
Qualifications of elders/ bishops/ overseers. These are spelled out in 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Note first the things which are NOT included as qualifications but which are sometimes primary in pastor searches. There is no mention of a seminary or even Bible school degree; or of great public speaking skills; or great charisma and a charming personality. The primary qualifications were ones of character and maturity. Elders must be self controlled, sensible, just, prudent, hospitable, gentle, not given to wine, not quick tempered, not greedy, etc. Elders were not to be new converts. They were to be husbands of one wife (or one woman men) and were to have good reputations.
The ability of a man to lead the church was to be judged by how well he had managed his own household and raised his children. Do they believe and walk with the Lord? Thus the typical elder chosen was probably a man who had completed raising several children.
What skills does Paul require? He must be “apt” or able to teach and able to exhort in sound doctrine, refuting those who contradict. We see no distinction here between "teaching" and "ruling" elders. All elders are expected to teach and correct false doctrine and to lead the church. But nowhere does it say the elder must be a great orator or even a dynamic preacher! Some will be gifted for preaching the gospel very effectively to large crowds of unbelievers, others will not.
Note also that a "call" to preach or even to pastor, is nowhere among the requirements. If a man met the requirements, was selected, and after prayer believed God would have him so serve - this was "call" enough. Nor does a dramatic call from God to ministry exempt one from meeting the Biblical requirements. You may be called today, but not prepared to serve until 20 years from now!
Source for Elders. Paul's instructions (Titus 1:5, Acts 14:23) are to appoint elders within the local churches. Did Paul instruct Titus and Timothy to go seek trained preachers from other cities to come and lead the churches? No. Choosing elders from within would seem the normal rule. Might there be an exception to this? We can easily imagine elders in one city sometimes moving to another and serving as elders in their new church. Also we might expect a rapidly growing church that is being swamped by new believers perhaps calling for help from a more established church in another city. But as a rule, Paul expected to find adequate leadership material within the local church.
How does this compare with what most churches do today? Most churches have at least one elder who is full time in ministry and provides nearly all the teaching to the congregation as a whole. This elder's position is altogether different from the others. Rarely is he selected from within the church. He is sought after and recruited like a business executive working for a competitor. Instead of being someone well known and respected within the church, he is an unknown, evaluated through interviews, references and sample sermons. As with any business recruiting, sometimes the new hire is very successful, while at other times there are unpleasant surprises. But when an elder is selected from those within the church, mistakes in judgment should be fewer. Likewise the new elder already knows the congregation well, having already built many key relationships.
Training of Elders. Though a seminary education may be helpful, it clearly was not essential to Paul. Even Jesus was prone to choosing uneducated men to travel with and learn from Him for a few years in preparation for being apostles. A lofty education has never been essential to be used by God. How many seminarians have been used like Dwight L. Moody, an uneducated shoe salesman?
The first elders appointed in the new churches had likely received no more instruction than much of the rest of the congregation. Paul and his emissaries were there for a relatively brief time (perhaps a few months up to a year or so). As the Greek New Testament became available most could probably read it. And the Old Testament was readily available in Greek also. The Gentiles would have lacked the ability to read the Hebrew originals, but the apostles did not seem concerned. They readily quoted from the Greek Septuagint themselves when writing the New Testament.
Selection of Elders. In Acts 20:28, Paul says the Holy Spirit made them overseers of the flock. Yet repeatedly we hear of how elders/ overseers were appointed by Paul and his coworkers (Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5, 1 Tim 3:1-7). But then we have the example of the seven men (often thought to be precursors of deacons) who were chosen to serve the widows in Acts 6:2-6. The apostles asked the whole congregation to select men with certain qualifications for this task. So who is to make the selection? the Holy Spirit, existing leaders, or the congregation?
With new churches, the apostle/ missionary was apparently responsible for selecting the initial leadership. But surely there would be prayer for wisdom and the direction of the Holy Spirit in making these selections. It might seem very clear that the Holy Spirit had already chosen, upon seeing the men's qualifications and how the Spirit was already using them. Also it is possible that the congregation might be sometimes consulted to help identify men who truly met the qualifications.
There is also the possibility of unusual circumstances, in which all the leaders of a church might be lost, such as through a plague or persecution. Perhaps elders could come from another church or city to reestablish the leadership. Or perhaps they could not for some time. Though the normal pattern may be for existing leaders to appoint new ones, should it be held to so firmly as to leave a church leaderless?
Financial Support of Elders. Paul states in 1 Cor 9:13 that the Lord directed that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by it. Yet in 9:12 he says that he did not use this right. This passage in 1 Corinthians 9 makes a solid case for missionaries and evangelists - the full time preachers of the gospel - to receive their support from the church. However, it does not seem to apply directly to elders as well. Paul is discussing those who like him, travel from place to place preaching the gospel. These are not the same as the elders who labor within a single church, shepherding and teaching the congregation.
However, 1 Tim 5:17-19 does specifically address elders. In this passage we are told that elders who rule well, and especially those who labor in the word (i.e. preaching) and doctrine (teaching) are worthy of double honor. Though some claim "honor" simply means "honor", the verses following imply otherwise. Both honor and honorarium (compensation) are in consideration. On the one hand, this verse supports a contention that not all elders were necessarily to receive support from the church. Also it implies that many might be only partially supported, based on the time and effort they devoted to the ministry. On the other hand, it does make a positive case for elders receiving compensation based on fulfilling their role well and in proportion to the time they give up from their occupation for the purpose of ministry.
Galatians 6:6-8 also teaches that those taught the word should share (KJV uses "communicate" to mean share) all good things with the one who teaches. Though this passage does not mention elders, it is reasonable to apply this to elders as being those charged with teaching. But though this passage argues for sharing of material goods or even money, it does not seem to advocate complete support for all who teach.
Does the practice in most churches line up with the Bible teaching in this area? Most churches have one elder who is referred to as the pastor (or senior pastor, if there are several). In all but the smallest churches, this man works full time for the church and gets all of his support from the ministry. If there are other elders who are not full time church employees, they are usually not considered pastors and give very little time to the ministry as compared with the "pastor". The "pastor" alone handles nearly all the teaching that takes place when the whole congregation is gathered. Is this usually the best arrangement for either the hired "pastor" or the other elders or the church as a whole? I think not. A more equal sharing of the ministry load would seem to be in better line with the Scriptures and would be of benefit to the church. Having a full time employee to do the ministry encourages other men to leave most ministry to him and not even aspire to become elders. After all, the "pastor" has no other work to do than minister and he is paid to do it! So why should they sacrifice much time and share in much of the responsibility?
A more equally shared responsibility could benefit the church by involving more men with varied gifts and abilities. It would create a group of elders that more nearly functions as a group of equals, balancing each other and reducing the impact of any single man's weaknesses and errors. Church funds required to fully support a pastor's family could instead partially compensate a larger number of elders for reducing their normal work hours to extend their ministry. Money might even be left over for supporting more that are fully devoted to missions and evangelism.
We don't really know the extent to which elders were or were not supported in the early church. I would suppose that a new church would often be small and many members might be of the poorer classes. In this situation it would seem unlikely than any of the elders would receive much support, but would continue their secular jobs in order to earn a living.
As a church grew, it might first provide limited assistance to those elders who were reducing their work hours in order to better meet the needs of the ministry. Later, perhaps one of the elders might desire to spend a quarter of his time shepherding the church and the remaining in an evangelism ministry outside the church. Seeing his giftedness and God's blessing on his efforts, the church, as it is able, might choose to support him fully for this purpose.
To begin with, we need to put aside our church traditions and closely examine the teachings and examples provided in the New Testament. Doing so, many will find that:
1) The local church is to be led by appointed elders/bishops/overseers who are responsible for leading/shepherding and teaching the church.
2) The church is to be led by a plurality of elders, not one or two men titled as pastors. No one elder is superior to the others, but they share in the leadership and teaching, as brothers and equals.
3) These elders may also be assisted by deacons as there is need and qualified men available.
4) Elders are qualified for their position by virtue of their demonstrated character and ability in accordance with the standards in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. They must be able to teach and maintain sound doctrine. A good marriage and children raised well is a key indication of a man's ability to rule well as an elder. A seminary education, though perhaps helpful, is not a requirement and does not substitute for experience and proven character.
5) Ideally elders are best chosen from within the congregation.
6) Assuming responsibilities can be sufficiently divided among elders, most elders should be able to continue to work at a secular occupation without significantly burdening the church. (This also serves as a good example to the flock.) Individual believers should share material things with elders who lead well and devote much time to the ministry. The church should also stand ready to take on all or part of the support of an elder, to the extent it is able and he is worthy, when his ministry work reduces his ability to support his own family.
Note: The laborer is worthy of his wages. If you have an elder who is devoting his full time, working hard at the ministry of the church, he is worthy of his support. While devoting all his time to the church, he cannot also work to support his family. The church has a duty to provide for his needs and to do so generously.
NEXT ISSUE: Part 2: Applying Church Leadership Principles to the Home Church