"I exhort the elders among you... shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight."
1 Peter 5:1-2
The Office of Elder, Pastor, Overseer
In the coming weeks we at Hopewell will be going through the process of adding another elder or two to our leadership. So now is a good time to think about what exactly that office entails. And the best way to begin is by looking at the names these leaders take in the New Testament
ELDER - The Greek word for "elder” is presbuteros, from which we get our word "Presbyterian." There is a sense in which you can say that Hopewell is a Presbyterian church. While not a part of a Presbyterian denomination, we are governed by a plurality of elders.
In the Bible the word elder carries with it the idea of headship or decision maker. The book of Numbers records the heads of the households and tribes were called elders. They governed the people by making decisions and passing judgment in the courts. They were apt to do so because their years of experience and learning.
Thus, the word elder has to do with maturity. An elder is one who has grown deeply in God's Word and is able to apply it to his own life and the lives of the people under his care.
So when you think of an elder, don’t merely think of someone who is advanced in years. Take it as being advanced in wisdom. An elder should be a man you can trust to make righteous and godly decisions.
OVERSEER - The Greek word for overseer is episkopos, which can also mean bishop. This is where we get the word “Episcopalian." An Episcopalian church is one that is ruled by bishops.
But in the NT the word bishop/overseer is essentially interchangeable with the word elder. The difference lies in that the word overseer speaks more of the function of an elder. His duty is that of oversight.
In essence, the overseer is a watchman, a protector, and/or a guardian. His job is to watch over the lives of the people under his care, making sure that they are walking in obedience. When he sees unruly conduct, he must step in to correct it, discipline, or provide proper direction so that order is restored.
"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers." Acts 20:28
SHEPHERD - I often will say that I am not the only pastor at Hopewell. We actually have several men who serve as pastors. For Scripture makes clear that every elder is a pastor, i.e. a shepherd.
Acts 20:28 says that the overseers are to “to care for the church of God.” The word for care is poiemon, which is also the word we translate as shepherd. Similarly, 1 Peter 5:2 says that the elders are to “shepherd the flock of God” as Christ’s under-shepherds.
If the word overseer has to do with the work of the elder, shepherd had to do with the way the elder does that work. It expresses the tenderness and care with which he executes his duties.
An elder is supposed to have a shepherd's heart. That means he is to have a special affection for the people of God. His desire is to lead by providing pastoral care through prayer and counsel. He might discipline id the need arises, and he will certainly go to great lengths to rescue those who may end up going astray.
Sheep can often be skittish animals. A little disruption can make them jumpy and put them on the defensive. So you can’t have a shepherd who comes into the sheep pen and says, “Hey you sheep! Get over here! Let’s go! We’re going to go get some grass!” If the shepherd was that gruff, the sheep would cower in the corner of the pen.
The shepherd of God’s sheep must act in a similar way. He must show a tender-loving care with the people under his charge and desire to provide the care they need in order to live the kind of life God intends.
As we at Hopewell begin to think about what leader(s) the Lord may be raising up, we should begin by thinking in these categories. We do not simply want businessmen or CEO's to head up Hopewell. Neither do we want dictators who simply get their way or weaklings who simply follow the whims of the people.
Rather, we want men who are steeped in God's Word and able to apply it. We want men who will take their duties as overseers seriously, to make sure the church is pure and holy. More than anything, we want men who possess Christ's heart and will shepherd the flock through Biblical pastoral care.
Hopewell Campout - 2022
July 15-17th the Hopewell crew will be spending the weekend at Camp Conger, just north of Willard, Ohio. Please note that our regularly scheduled worship service will take place at the camp that Sunday. Please plan to join us at 10:30 am for worship and for lunch following.
Growing at Hopewell
Is your child ready to publicly profess his/her faith and begin to participate in the Lord's Supper? We would love to talk with you about it. Or, if you would like to learn more about what our leadership expects from our young people, you can check out our pamphlet on "Basic Faith."