This blog has come to fruition after a phone conversation I had recently where we talked about Kingdom age eldership and I explained who the real elders are. I believe this will help many see their place and help align us into some Kingdom perspectives. We need to shift a lot of things with right leadership and some old mindsets will have to be replaced.
As Apostle Paul traveled, he went into cities and appointed elders. He found certain qualified people and then gave them the title of elder. We must look at things contextually and see that he was not appointing elders over churches but over The Church (Ecclesia) and was not even appointing elders over a group of believers even though that is part of their focus since they belong to a city. The Ecclesia was Kingdom minded and governmental. To maintain that culture, elders were appointed. Eldership of the church was eldership of the ruling reigning ones and not the full congregation as we now know it. Since there was no division and also not many believers, his task of locating them was more simplified than we would do today.
But what Paul was actually doing was appointing elders over a city and not over a congregation. This is more in alignment with Kingdom and the large viewpoint needed. These were watchmen who were watching over the souls of men and what was coming into their culture and region. They helped maintain a Kingdom culture and not a denominational belief system. These elders are seldom mentioned in the Bible, but since Paul appointed them “in every city” the emphasis being “city”, there was a structure he was putting into place within a city. Paul was looking for a larger oversight of a city. He knew that as the Church grew, he could not keep in contact with hundreds of elders in hundreds of congregations. These city elders worked closely with the apostles in making decisions and also in implementing those decisions. Acts 15:22-23, Acts 16:4 That is why Paul told Timothy to “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine” 1 Tim 5:17.
Today there are elders of the city. They are men and women who have a great desire to see God within their city and are in tune to what God is doing. They may or may not be leading a congregation. Some pastors are more elders of a city than a pastor of a congregation. Some may be businessmen. Some may be in the political arena. I know several who have no real ‘ministry’ but have the pulse of a city. They are not apostles or prophets or pastors but move and function as elders. They meet the qualifiers Paul talked of and see things in the larger picture. They have vision for a city, hear God speak about their city and may have prophetic warnings as well.
Those people that we call elders in a local church are really deacons in function and qualification. The need of local eldership in a congregation seemed to be the natural flow as the Church grew. But the reality is apostolic teams and companies have been replaced by elders. Most elders in a local congregation are stagnated in function and their only real role is to decide the best for that congregation. We need elders of cities who help decide the needs of the city and what is needed to see the Kingdom come. This is the difference between church age eldership and Kingdom age eldership. Our paradigm shift needs to occur in this area so we can further empower those true elders of the city. I imagine many of you reading this can easily identify the elders of your city.
Very interesting perspective focusing on a larger picture.
Excellent Apostle Greg! I have been making a distinction between “elders of the church” (Acts 14:21-23, local assemblies) and “elders of the city” (Titus 1:5, Ecclesia, Church) Thanks!
Great post Apostle Crawford.