This article asks whether an elder is an overseer, a shepherd or a coordinator and after a survey of both biblical material (Old Testament and New Testament), and study of what John Calvin believed, it concludes that in fact the elder is all three. The burden of the paper is that the elder should be aware of and not neglect his pastoral duties, especially the visitation of the congregation for the spiritual edification of its people. The author holds to the view, and again draws strongly from Calvin, that the eldership is divided into teaching and ruling elders, but that both are to be given over to being shepherds under Christ. Practically the consistory is encouraged not to overwork its non-paid elders and to mentor those who are new to the task.

Source: Ambtelijk Contact, 2007. 11 pages. Translated by Wim Kanis.

The Elder: Overseer, Shepherd or Coordinator? About the position and task of the elder in the Church

There have been times when the elder was highly regarded in church and in theology. In the 1930’s Noordmans once uttered these well-known words: “When Calvin used the pawn of the elder on the chessboard, he used it to put the pope in a checkmate position”. A short time later vanRuler even characterized the elder as “‘the de facto office bearer between the deacon and the minister.” It is rather unlikely that we would encounter such lofty words nowadays. On the contrary, it seems at present that the office of the elder is subject to losing ground in various ways. I will mention a number of examples from which this becomes evident:

  1. The classical Reformed doctrine of the offices has come under discussion, with the question being asked, “Do the offices truly serve the edification of the church, or does the Protestant structure of the offices inhibit the growth and effectiveness of congregational life?” Some critics claim that in the future churches should be directed by a team of specialists. If this were correct, I do believe that the traditional functioning of the elder would no longer have a place.
  2. Another aspect is that in our present time much attention is given to the church and the gifts that are found in her. In this context it is often emphasized that pastoral care is in fact a task for the whole congregation. The members ought to have an eye for each other and so do the pastoral work among themselves. The task of the elders then consists of stimulating and coordinating all pastoral and other activities within the congregation and within their own ward or district.
  3. I will mention a third instance. The meetings of church councils have become ever more filled up with things that are not directly related to the pastoral care of the church members. A large number of incoming correspondence demands attention time and again. In some cases, the church council is confronted with serious tensions in the congregation that demand a lot of time and attention. Discussions with other local churches or the development of a plan for congregational development can also demand a lot of the time and energy on the part of the office bearers. And then we have not even mentioned the fact that some elders are entrusted with all sorts of tasks related to the broader church community. In such cases, is it not understandable that elders struggle to get around to their task of visiting the members, and at best they visit a particular family in their district only where there are special problems?
  4. In recent times it has become increasingly common for churches to appoint a professionally trained pastoral or ecclesiastical worker. Sometimes this person is elected and appointed as an elder, but often this is not the case. In actual fact and practice, this worker performs a number of tasks that were traditionally part of the work of the elder and/or the pastor. This confronts us with questions such as: “What is the relationship of the church worker in respect to the traditional ministries (or ‘offices’) within the church?”, and: “Should the voluntary labour of the elder(s) be entrusted more and more to professional people in the future?”
  5. I will mention one final aspect. In an increasing number of churches it appears to become more and more challenging to find candidates for the position of elders. This may be related to the fact that the congregation is aging rapidly and that there are therefore fewer men who are eligible for this office. However, it may also be related to the fact that capable and gifted men indicate that they prefer not to become an elder because they have other priorities. In such cases, the pastoral component of being an elder might be the obstacle: “It’s all right if I become an elder, but I do not want to visit the people!” Apparently not everyone regards the office of elder as a ‘noble task’, as Scripture calls it (1 Tim. 3:1).

What should we make of all these trends? There is ample reason to reflect on the place and task of the elder during this conference. In doing so, I will focus especially on the pastoral aspects of this ministry. I hope to do this in the first place by a broad overview of what the Bible says about the ministry of an elder. Next, we will examine how Calvin in particular shaped this ministry. The third part will be the most comprehensive. In light of the above, I plan to show how the pastoral care of the elder can/should take shape in our times. As we explore this I will also indicate how, in my view, we should evaluate the various developments that are taking place today as I have outlined above.

1. The Elder in the Bible🔗

Nowhere in the New Testament is mentioned when the office of elder was instituted for the first time. In the book of Acts, the elders of the Jerusalem congregation are spoken of as an office that was known and therefore did not need any further explanation (Acts 11:30; Acts 15:2f). The reason for this is that the elder was a well-known presence in Old Testament Israel and also in Judaism at the time of the New Testament. In the course of time, a certain development took place in the function that these elders had. In the period of the journey in the wilderness, the elders of Israel were representatives of specific tribes who helped Moses to lead the people and to administer justice. When Israel took possession of the Promised Land, we encounter the elders primarily as elders of a town to whom governance was entrusted. In post-exile Judaism, the Sanhedrin comes into being to which the elders also belonged. It was their task to ensure order and discipline in the Jewish community. So we see that the concept of an elder developed from a more political-legal perspective to a concept that had more spiritual overtones, including notions of ‘leadership’ and the administration of order and discipline.

The New Testament🔗

These aspects also appear to have shaped the concept of the ‘elder’ in the New Testament church. In fact, the NT uses two different words to designate this office. In addition to ‘elder’, the word ‘overseer’ also occurs (see especially Acts 20:17,28). It is true that the term ‘overseer’ in the Greek of the NT as well as in our language evokes the thought of ‘leading’. But how were the elders in the NT congregations to lead? I quote two important texts that clarify this. The first is found in Acts 20 where the speech of the apostle Paul is recorded at his farewell to the elders of the church at Ephesus. In it, among other things, he says the following: “Pay careful attention to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood (or: with the blood of his own)” (v. 28). Thus, a bishop or elder should lead the congregation in the way a shepherd pastures his flock. The style of the shepherd –the pastor– determines the way he executes his ministry. We find a clearly related statement at the beginning of 1 Peter 5. There the apostle writes, “I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (vv. 1-4.)


From these texts we may infer the following:

  1. Christ is the chief Shepherd of the flock, his congregation, which he has acquired by his own blood. This means that the elders are merely ‘auxiliary shepherds’ who are accountable to him for how they carry out their office or ministry. They must not deal with God’s church in a self-centered way in order to benefit themselves. As under-shepherds they have a serving role.
  2. When we take a look at the core pastoral tasks from the biblical perspective of the shepherd, the following aspects stand out: the shepherd cares and nurtures; the shepherd protects and fights; the shepherd leads the way and continues to guide the flock. ‘”From this we deduce the shepherd functions to care, to preserve, and to guide,” writes Velema. All of these functions can be found in the texts just cited.
  3. Concerning the function of caring we can think of the pasturing of the flock. To make clear what this entails I quote from Versteeg:

How a true shepherd goes about pasturing the flock is described in an inimitable and beautiful way in Ezekiel 34. In the name of the LORD, the prophet was to point out to the leaders of Israel that they were not true shepherds. They were not pasturing the flock, but they were looking after themselves. The charge was, “You eat, the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them” (Eze. 34:3, 4). From this negative wording it is clear at the same time what the calling of a shepherd in pasturing the flock is in a positive sense, namely to strengthen the weak, to heal the sick, to bind up those who are wounded, to bring back those who wander away, and to seek the lost.”

We can also put it this way: pasturing involves empathy, care and attention for all and any who are struggling with difficulties, with questions and temptations.

  1. The preserving function concerns the safeguarding of the congregation in the pure doctrine and the confrontation against all kinds of false doctrines (see Acts 20:28f). In addition we can also think of the supervision of the life of the members of the church. Here the notions of ‘admonishing’ and ‘warning’ should be mentioned.
  2. Finally, there is to be spiritual leadership. Here we can think of giving direction in the worship service, but also of addressing questions of faith and life in the light of the Scriptures.

The home visit and intercession🔗

We need to point out another aspect of the task of the elder according to the NT. That is the fact that the elders were also used to visit the people in their homes. At the conclusion of Acts 5, we read that every day in the temple and from house to house the apostles “did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus” (Acts 5:42). Paul says something similar in his parting words to the elders of Ephesus, that he proclaimed the Word to them and taught them “in public and from house to house” (Acts 20:20). Now, in all likelihood this will refer primarily to the meetings of a house congregation. But it is also quite possible that pastoral conversations before or after the house service may be included here. In any case, it was already a custom early on in the NT church to have the elders come and intercede for those who were sick. That is the primary meaning of the well-known words from James 5:14, where it is said that a sick person should call for the elders to come to pray for him and to anoint him with oil. However one interprets those last words, it is clear that the emphasis is on the elders praying with and for the sick person at his or her home.

 2. Calvin and the office of elders🔗

Calvin’s thoughts on the office and task of the elders formed gradually from careful study of Scripture and ideas he encountered from other reformers – especially Bucer. As is well known, Calvin rejected the Roman thinking about the office, which placed the office far above the ordinary church members. In the church in Rome, office bearers had authority because of their sacramental ordination, although they were subject to the highest authority of the church on earth, the Pope. Against this doctrine of the office, Calvin stated that Scripture recognizes four permanent offices: those of pastor, doctor of theology, elder and deacon. According to the reformer, the elder’s office is the most essential. This office is divided into the office of teaching elder on the one hand and the office of ruling elder on the other. By the teaching elder, he means the ministers of the Word and the doctors of theology: they are tasked with the teaching of the Scriptures. The ruling elders are to be compared to what we usually call simply elders. They are charged with the supervision of the doctrine and life of the members of the congregation and with church discipline. In his commentary on 1 Timothy 5:17, Calvin puts it this way:

We may learn from this, that there were at that time two kinds of elders; for all were not ordained to teach. The words plainly mean, that there were some who "ruled well" and honourably, but who did not hold the office of teachers. And, indeed, there were chosen from among the people men of worth and of good character, who, united with the pastors in a common council and authority administered the discipline of the Church, and were a kind of censors for the correction of morals.

Does this mean that for Calvin, the elder has more of a judicial task than a pastoral one? That would play into the hands of one of the most persistent prejudices about Calvin, namely that he would have shaped the Reformation in Geneva as a cold-hearted legalist, who by his ecclesiastical court forced the inhabitants of Geneva into a legal mould and extinguished all joy of life by displaying the elder as one who always raised his finger in rebuke! I would like to make three remarks about this.

  1. It is indeed correct that church discipline was an extremely important motive for Calvin, and for that matter for the entire Swiss Reformation. However, we need to remember that for people like Calvin and Bucer the entire complex of what we call “church discipline” had an entirely pastoral character. Perhaps we can make this clear by pointing to the original meaning of the word as used in German: ‘Zucht, Erziehung’. This is derived from ‘Buszzucht’. ‘Zucht’ comes from the verb to draw, ‘ziehen’. Literally, therefore, it means “to draw someone to repentance” (Busze). God does this first of all through the preaching. However, if people do not want to listen to the word that is proclaimed, then there is as yet a second means. God sends the elder with a ‘pastoral exhortation’ to motivate us to return to the Word of God and to stay with the Word!
  2. Moreover, we should remember that Calvin wanted to show a distinction between the pastor and the elder with the indications of doctrinal and ruling office. By doing so we could lose sight of the fact that these offices also feature various aspects of interface. These points of contact are mainly in the area of pastoral attitude and the practice of pastoral care. I would like to defend the thesis that according to Calvin the minister is the pastor who engages in preaching and pastoral care, while the elder alongside the pastor is engaged in pastoral care and discipline.
  3. The latter is particularly emphasized by the fact that Calvin charged the elders with the practice of making home visits. Therefore it is important to explore further the origins and backgrounds of this typical Calvinist pastoral method par excellence.

Calvin and the home visitation🔗

The origins of the regular home visit, as we know it in our Reformed tradition, are in fact found in Calvin’s city of Geneva. Although the reformer advocated the need for it early on, it was not until 1550 that it was officially introduced into the Genevan church. In Calvin’s opinion, this was at a rather late stage. Why did he consider the home visit so important? For him the basic motive certainly was that in this way the biblical instructions for pastoral care of the individual and of families could best be honoured. In addition, however, we can also point to three motives that were determined more by the circumstances of the early Reformation in Geneva.

Home visitation and the confessional🔗

In the first place I wish to point to the elimination of the sacrament of confession. As is well known, in the church of the Middle Ages this had become the primary form of pastoral care. During a confessional sins were confessed, and the priest would evaluate the degree of repentance. He would proclaim forgiveness, and impose new duties that served as penances for the sins that had been committed. Calvin rejected this Roman Catholic institution in a radical way. He replaced the confessional with the home visit, which emphatically did not have a sacramental character and from which all legal binding of people’s consciences had profoundly been removed. According to the reformer, the home visitation was about an open spiritual conversation, in which of course such issues as sin, forgiveness, and the sanctification of life were to be discussed.

Home visitation and catechesis🔗

For Calvin, the home visit also had a catechetical aspect. In the regulations that were issued with regard to making home visits in Geneva we read that as a result of the confusion of the Papacy, many people were not taught well in their youth. Thus, as adult men and women, they were not well informed of what the Christian faith actually entailed. Therefore it was decided to visit the members of the church every year “from house to house”, to make a simple examination of each person’s faith, so that no one would come to the Lord’s Supper “without an understanding of the basis of his salvation”. Ministers and elders were to pay special attention to the “servants, chambermaids, nursing people and foreigners” who sought refuge in the city in large numbers and settled there. The intention was that no one would partake of the sacrament without prior permission. In order to teach children and adults more broadly about the doctrine, weekly catechism services were held in Geneva. During their visits the office bearers urged the church members to attend these, especially when they noticed that their knowledge of the doctrine left much to be desired.

Home visitation and discipline🔗

Finally, Calvin also made a clear connection between the home visit and church discipline. According to Calvin, this meant in practical terms that during the home visit a strong emphasis should be placed on the sanctification of the lives of church members. To illustrate this, I pass on the following characterizations that he gave of the home visits in the church. During the home visit, an investigation was conducted into the faith and walk of life of new inhabitants of the city. Those who had lived in the city for some time and belonged to the congregation were evaluated to see ”whether the household was peaceful and well ordered, whether there were any quarrels with the neighbours, whether there was any drunkenness, and whether there was any laziness or slothfulness in attending church.” If there were indeed bigger problems, the home visit could result in a summons to appear before the consistory, where the head of the household or the one who had been visited had to answer for his or her wrong way of life. In general, then, Calvin wrote that the purpose of the home visit was “to get to know the people, so that the sacrament may not be profaned, and to exhort each one to do his duty toward God and to listen to His holy Word.”

In this way Calvin saw home visits as an important tool to shape the regular pastoral care. What is particularly striking is that he saw in these visits an effective means of focussing on the teachings of the Bible and of admonishing and disciplining as concretely as possible to the situation of the individual. It was precisely these last two aspects that aroused quite a bit of resistance among a number of people in Geneva. The minutes of the consistory meetings from that time give an insightful and fascinating picture of this. However, we should also note that this intensive pastoral care was a blessing for many. Testimonies of this have been preserved, although, in my opinion, they remain somewhat underexposed in the literature about Calvin.

3. Overseer, shepherd or coordinator?🔗

What do these biblical and church-historical explorations mean for us today? I would like to apply them by means of a number of propositions.

1. The value of the Reformed doctrine regarding the offices🔗

It has been pointed out from various sides that Calvin’s doctrine of the offices and his view of the elder in particular confronts us with some serious questions. It is true that he always appealed to Scripture for his vision, but not all of his scriptural proofs turn out to be equally convincing. Moreover, his views were partly determined by the social and ecclesiastical structures that he encountered in Geneva. Yet we should not conclude from this that Calvin’s views are unscriptural. On the contrary, in my opinion vanGenderen is quite right when he says of the Calvinist doctrine, “Nowhere in the New Testament are the ministers, elders and deacons placed next to each other as they are in our creed. And yet this is not done in an arbitrary manner. There is a careful listening to what Scripture says about proper order in the household of God, the congregation of the living God.” We should therefore be aware of what we are doing when we question the whole doctrine of the offices –and thus also when dealing with the office of elders– as some advocate. Those who seek to do so will first have to delve more deeply into how the Reformation –and especially Calvin– arrived at the doctrine of the offices based on Scripture. To me, this Reformed view is still normative and indispensable, though I do have a few questions to ask Calvin on some of the details.

2. Variables and constants🔗

Our review of the biblical data and Calvin’s views also reveals developments and (slight) shifts with respect to the office of elder. In Scripture itself, the office of elder developed from a legal-political to a more ecclesial concept. Moreover, in the NT there is sometimes more emphasis on an elder being an overseer and a leader, while other passages highlight much more that the fact that he is a pastor or shepherd. With Calvin the notions of oversight and discipline in the office of elders receive strong emphasis, while the pastoral element is by no means absent from his reflections. We may conclude from this that the office of elder contains a fixed inner core, but that it also has a certain flexibility. The circumstances of the church and the needs and problems of a certain time-period can cause certain aspects to be more strongly emphasized. This does not mean, of course, that the core function should ever be neglected or discarded. But because an elder has a ‘loving eye and an open ear’ for what is going on in the congregation, he will also want to respond to it responsibly on the basis of the Scriptures.

3.The main task: pastoral care🔗

This of course brings us to the question, ’What is the indispensable main calling of an elder?” In my opinion, in light of Scripture and our Calvinistic tradition, the answer is not unclear. An elder is first of all a pastor –a shepherd– who knows ‘the sheep’, seeks them out and attempts to guide them in the right ways. It will be clear that this main task has many aspects. It is well summarized in the new version of the form for the ordination of elders, as it was established by the synod (1971-72). Here it is stated that it is their calling:

…to visit the members of the congregation faithfully and to give them spiritual guidance. They are to exhort the older and the younger members in their service of the Lord and to see to it that each one shows himself to be a living member of Jesus Christ according to the commandment of the Lord. They are to remind the members of the church of their calling to bear witness to the gospel in this world and to win others to Christ by their actions and deeds. They are to admonish those who do not live according to the rule of the Scriptures, and to exercise Christian discipline over those who do not show repentance. As overseers of the congregation they are to guard against the spread of any false doctrine that could lead them away from obedience to Jesus Christ and against any profanation of the sacraments. They are to supervise one another and also the ministers of the Word, for whose teaching and ministry they share responsibility. To that end they are to study God’s Word and to practise themselves continually in the contemplation of the mysteries of the faith.

4.The elder and the district team🔗

Is all this not overly idealistic or too much to ask? Especially for elders who have been assigned a large district or a large working area, all this can indeed mean a significant workload. Moreover, each elder must also spend quite a bit of time at church council meetings, etc. In view of this, some churches are moving towards appointing ward teams, which include a deacon, one (or more) visiting lady and sometimes a pastoral worker as well. The elder then becomes the coordinator of such a team. What are we to think of this? In the first place, Bucer taught us that the pastoral care of the church is not merely a matter left for the office bearers. The congregation also has the calling to pastorally care for one another. That is why there is no objection in principle to the fact that in addition to elders and ministers, church workers or ladies from a neighbourhood team or a sisterhood circle may also visit people in a congregation. This can relieve the burden on the office bearers and strengthen the bonds within the congregation. It is also obvious that the (district) elder or the consistory coordinates these activities. Such coordination and directing of all kinds of congregational activities has always been one of the specific tasks of a consistory. Nevertheless, some cautions should be voiced here. We need to guard against a narrowing of the elder’s role to merely a coordinator of a team who no longer does any visiting, or only in very exceptional cases. In my opinion, it is clear from Scripture and from our Reformed tradition that the office of the elder is essentially marked by his pastoral care. This implies that the elder knows the sheep of the flock, seeks them out, and gives them pastoral guidance. Moreover, even though pastoral care has a congregational support base, this does not mean that the pastor and elder no longer have a pastoral calling! On the contrary, there are pastoral situations that call for an official visit. I am thinking, for instance, of sensitive pastoral issues. Members of the congregation will only entrust these to someone they can trust completely, and whose confidentiality serves as the guarantee that he will keep silent about the nature and content of their discussions. In addition, it is an important task of the elders to check whether there is noticeable fruit through the preaching and to discuss their findings with the pastor during the consistory meeting. This can help to ensure that the pastoral care from the pulpit and the pastoral care of the home visit interact and support each other in a mutual way. This is very important for the spiritual well being of the congregation. In short, every elder needs to work as of first importance on the pastoral care of the members of the congregation. This is, in my opinion, his core task.

5. The home visitation🔗

Now the question might arise, is the home visit as introduced by Calvin still appropriate in our time and age? Should we not be looking into other forms of encounters? It is clear that, in this respect, developments since the 16th century have not stood still. This means that there are clear and significant differences between the view of Calvin and the way we today generally give shape to the home visit. For example, in our time a much more explicit distinction is made between home visitation and disciplinary visitation than in the days of Calvin. As addition, the relationship between the home visit and the Lord’s Supper is much less exclusive than it was in the 16th century in Geneva, although our church order still maintains a link to that connection. Today the home visit is much more about the regular pastoral visit of the office bearers in the congregation, and in principle all matters of life can be addressed in the light of the Scriptures (not only issues relating to the Lord’s Supper). However, this will and should primarily be a conversation about our personal relationship to God. Regardless of the differences between then and now, Calvin’s views can still contribute to our reflection on this practice. I summarize these in four considerations:

  1. Even though the typical confessional character disappeared in the home visits in Geneva, this pastoral method is not absent in Calvin’s discourses. After all, this is about a confidential conversation in which matters of faith and life can be discussed in a personal way. This implies, among other things, that the content of such conversations needs to remain private and is subject to the confidentiality of the one who provides pastoral care. In my opinion, this is still an indispensable precondition for home visits and also for pastoral work in general.
  2. I would not want to go back to a too-strict connection between house visitation and the Lord’s Supper as it functioned with Calvin. Nevertheless, it should remain an important issue during regular home visits whether or not communicant members of the church should share in this celebration. There are not only historical but, especially, pastoral reasons for this.
  3. In Geneva, the home visit also had a catechetical component: it was intended to examine the knowledge of doctrine and, if necessary, to give further instruction in it. In my opinion, it cannot now be the intention that the home visit takes the form of an extensive family catechesis, as it did in the circles of the Puritans in the 17th century. However, the teaching from Scripture and the instruction in the doctrine of the church should be topics that are raised during these visits! It is precisely on this basis that misconceptions and questions of the heart can be addressed in a pastoral manner. In this way the spiritual life can receive proper guidance. This does require that the elders –as the Form for Ordination mentions–diligently search God’s Word and train themselves in godliness.
  4. Perhaps the connection between home visitation and discipline is the most controversial aspect. Nevertheless, this connection should not be (completely) lost sight of today. After all, during the home visit the visiting brothers and the visited family put themselves together under the discipline of the Word. This implies that the Word also needs to be a major part of the discussion and that its admonishing power should be felt. True pastoral visits are never without obligations.

6. A few practical matters🔗

We conclude with some practical aspects of being an elder in our time. Inquiries show that especially elders who are starting out often complain about some ambiguity of their role. They feel uncertain because they do not know exactly what is expected of them. It is as if they have been thrown in at the deep end, without really knowing how to swim. Here the question arises whether it would not be a good thing for these elders to receive some training or at least some guidance. Therefore, when new elders enter into their office, allow a portion of the first consistory meeting they experience to be devoted to making clear agreements and a proper delineation of duties. It is also possible for a young elder to be assigned an older brother as a mentor. But in any case, do not let your young elders seek their own way in uncertainty. The chances are very high that they will spend a lot of time reinventing the pastoral wheel themselves! It takes time to grow into pastoral work and to really get to know the members of the church and the families. Research indicates that new elders may need about two years to be properly prepared. Therefore, the nature of the pastoral work implies that it is not a good thing when elders serve too briefly in the office. It is advisable to consider whether serving in the first term should not last longer than the often-observed term of four years. The flip side is also that the consistory should ensure that elders are not overburdened by their pastoral and other duties. Many elders perform their calling in the office in addition to a full-time job. This means that their work as elders can be a considerable drain on the time they would otherwise devote to their families, courses, hobbies, etc. Let there be constant attention to this. Where necessary, the consistory may have to re-distribute the tasks and/or to reorganize the districts. A separate item is the relationship between the consistory and the professionally trained church worker. Several recent synods have drawn up a number of regulations that have been included in the church order as appendices. Even then such regulations do not always appear to give clarity in the practice of congregational work. Needless to say, it is of great importance that the utmost care is taken in this matter, so that the pastoral care for the flock of God will function in the best possible way!

In conclusion🔗

We return to the question raised in the title: as an elder, are you an overseer, a shepherd or a coordinator? In truth you are all three, but your special calling is to be a shepherd! This is also the great privilege of being an elder, you are a shepherd under the chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who was crucified and rose again!

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