A church elder is a key leadership position within many Christian churches. The role and responsibilities of an elder can vary depending on the denomination and the specific traditions of the church, but generally, elders serve as spiritual leaders with several common functions:

  1. Spiritual Oversight: Elders are responsible for the spiritual well-being of the congregation. They provide guidance, counsel, and teaching based on biblical principles.
  2. Governance and Decision Making: In many churches, elders participate in making important decisions regarding the church’s direction, doctrine, and discipline. They often serve on boards or councils that oversee the church’s affairs.
  3. Teaching and Preaching: While this role can vary, many elders are involved in teaching and sometimes preaching, either regularly or occasionally, to support the spiritual growth of the congregation.
  4. Pastoral Care: Elders often provide pastoral care to members of the congregation, including visiting the sick, counseling those in need, and offering spiritual guidance and prayer support.
  5. Role Models: As leaders in the church, elders are expected to exemplify Christian character and faithfulness, serving as role models for the congregation.
  6. Administration: In some churches, elders are involved in various administrative roles, from financial oversight to managing church staff and volunteers.

The qualifications for being an elder are typically derived from passages in the New Testament, such as 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, which emphasize character traits like being above reproach, self-controlled, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. Elders are often chosen from among the more mature and experienced members of the church community.

The concept of a plurality of elders, where leadership is shared among several elders rather than centralized in a single person, is also a common model in many churches, believed to provide accountability and a diversity of gifts and perspectives.