What is an Elder?

The primary role of the elders is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12) by grounding them in the deep truths of the Bible and guiding them to make disciples. 

The biblical writers used the titles “elder” (presbuteroi) and “overseer” (episkopoi) interchangeably based on the cultural situations in which they were ministering.  Both elders and overseers were tasked with the single function of directing the church in two specific ways.  First, elders/overseers were tasked “to manage” (proistemi) those in the church (1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 3:4-5).  Managing the church involves the idea of taking care of the church like a father compassionately cares for his children.  The second description used of the elder/overseer function is that of “shepherding” (poimaino) the flock of God.  Elders/overseers are to guide, feed and protect God’s flock as a shepherd cares for their sheep.  Thus, it is the ultimate responsibility of the elders to set the spiritual vision of the church body and shepherd its members.

We derive our English word “pastor” from the Latin term for “shepherd.”  Thus, pastor/elder/overseer all refer to the same biblical role.  At GCC we use the title elder to refer to non-staff elders, while pastor is often a title used of paid, staff-elders.  

The elders of GCC are the spiritual leaders and overseers of the church.  Thus, each elder must be a man of exemplary godly character (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-9) who is able to teach and disciple others toward Christ-like living.