As shepherds of God’s flock, we want you to have a clear understanding of how we try to live and lead this family. Peter set forth a clear understanding of what it means to be an elder when he wrote:
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:2-3)
Elders have at times appeared or functioned much like a board of directors, making decisions behind closed doors and then informing the flock. We do not see this leadership style exemplified in Scripture.
We see the role and work of elders as shepherds who lead the flock, nurturing it, encouraging it to remain true to what pleased the Chief Shepherd and Father through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Elders should be committed to this, not to be dominating or demanding. They should inspire the flock rather than intimidating or forcing it.
We, as elders, know only too well that we fall short of this ideal. However, it is the goal to which we aspire; it is the goal to which we encourage each other. We pledge to keep learning and growing so that we can fulfill the Lord’s command through Peter. “As iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17),” we pledge to encourage each other to remain focused on this goal.
This body has physical needs which are important. In order for us to devote ourselves to shepherd the flock, we have, as much as possible delegated the meeting of these needs to deacons and other individuals in the congregation. We are not above doing these things, but we feel we have been chosen to shepherd.
It is our desire to mentor, communicate, and encourage our brothers and sisters to please God. We want to empower people to use their God given talents and gifts to his glory and to bless the flock through these gifts. We do not want to control people or make them into what we think they should be. Our desire is to help each member to grow to their fullest potential as they are led by the Holy Spirit.
There are times when decisions are necessary to set the direction of the body. When these are made, we proceed with prayer as we consider God’s revelation; and we seek the guidance and opinions of the flock. We may not all share the same opinion on a given matter. However, once a decision is made we all accept and support the decision. We believe that the collective, prayerful judgment of the elders is better than the individual judgment of any one elder.
We ask for your prayers as we continually seek to shepherd this flock. Help us to submit to God so that together we can glorify his name and help extend the boundaries of his rule. Pray for us so that we may “prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (Ephesians 4:11-12)
— from the elders