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Pastoral 2017

Ruling Elders - Part II


When a person is ordained as an elder of the church, he is being entrusted with God-given duties to fulfil. His ordination is a public acknowledgment of his calling and equipping by the Holy Spirit to carry out the God-given duties of an elder. Below, some of the major biblical duties of an elder are briefly discussed.

The Duties of Elders

Oversight of the Church:

In conjunction with the pastor (the teaching elder), the elders take the oversight of the spiritual and administrative matters of the church. Elders are exhorted in 1 Peter 5:2 to “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind”. The word “feed” translates a Greek word (poimaínō), which denotes the duties of a shepherd towards the flock. An elder is to be like a shepherd who cares for the flock of God in the local church where he is appointed to the office. His duty of shepherding means that he must willingly and readily “take the oversight” of the congregation. Exercising oversight (episkopeo) would mean that like a shepherd he cares for the nurture, protection and guidance of God’s people. The apostle Paul’s instruction to the Ephesian elders was: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers” (Acts 20:28). Every elder must co-labour with the pastor and fellow elders to provide the necessary spiritual and administrative oversight. He must work with genuine pastoral concern for the flock of God. He must know the affairs of the flock and oversee their spiritual well-being. As part of the board of elders (or presbytery), he must personally and jointly labour to watch over the flock of God. The wise words of Solomon are applicable to every elder: “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds” (Proverbs 27:23).

The oversight of the flock would include visiting the poor, the sick and the afflicted. The elder must be willing and prepared to attend to the spiritual and temporal needs of the needy among the congregation. In fact, Scripture encourages the needy to call on elders – “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14). As under-shepherds of Christ’s flock, every elder ought to manifest Christ’s compassion and care, with much love and tenderness to His suffering sheep. He may minister to the afflicted with an appropriate hymn, or the reading of a portion of Scripture, or a brief prayer.

He must also attend to the backsliding members of the church in order to correct them and nurture them back. Every elder must prayerfully work to avoid the spiritual decline of the congregation. He should admonish members who neglect the fellowship gatherings and sacraments, which are means of grace that are essential to spiritual growth and health. Without proper supervision, the members of the church can slowly slip into spiritual lethargy and degeneration. Every elder must labour to avoid having members of the church degenerate and fall away unnoticed. Though the pastor bears much of the responsibility of the pastoral care, elders are also called to share with him the pastoral supervision of the church.

(more on this topic next week)


Translation & Printing of Tract, Magazine and Books
(A Mission Request from Sujith Samuel from India)

Dear Pastor,

Bro Ravi has finished reviewing the Telugu translation of the Gospel tract – “An Appointment to Keep” – done by Bro Priya Kumar. He commented that Bro Priya did it well, and I was happy to hear that. During his FEBC vacation, Bro Priya will try to translate some selected Bible Witness issues, such as the recent one on “Charismatism’s Errors” which is much needed here. He also promised to translate “365 Daily Exhortations from God’s Word” written by you.

I am sure the efforts we put to translate to Telugu will not go wasted. Telugu is spoken by 76 million people. It is the third most-spoken language in India after Hindi and Bengali. Even the whole Tamil-speaking population in the world is less than 70 million. Telugu has more speakers than those of languages like Korean and French. (Other Indian languages like Kannada, Malayalam, Odiya, etc. have only half the number of Telugu speakers – i.e. around 33-38 million.) These statistics may not be exact. However, they are taken from credible census. Hence, I am sure that there will be many, many readers of the translated tract if we print and distribute it. Here, most of the people prefer to read and speak in Telugu rather than in English.

the tract to Odiya. I will get the help of a translator from Asha Kiran Hospital to proofread it. This hospital (about 200 km from Vizag) is a mission hospital started by Christian doctors from Christian Medical College, Vellore. They provide treatment facilities for the tribal people at a very affordable rate. Many well-qualified Christian doctors work there for very low salary. They also have outreach ministries and translation work. Currently, the director of the hospital is a Malayali doctor.

Hindi is another language into which I hope our materials can be translated. Most people in the north of India speak Hindi and their local languages. I am trying to find a person to do it. Pray that God will lead us to the right person.

I would like to request that the Session allocate some funds for the printing of our translated materials.

Pastor, I know you specially like the hymn, “O for a thousand tongues to sing”. I also like it very much. There will be greater beauty if the thousand tongues from different language groups would sing our Saviour’s praise. May God help us to reach out to people who speak different languages like Telugu, Hindi, Bengali, Odiya, Malayalam or whatever language. Now we are placed in this Teluguspeaking area with easy access to Orissa and Hindi areas. So, we should try our best to produce at least basic Bible study materials in Telugu and Odiya.



Pastoral Exhortation