Understanding the Role of Elders in Guiding the Congregation

Setting: Ezekiel and Barnabas, affectionately called “Barney” when he says something especially silly, are relaxing at a sunny lakeside park. Children play on the nearby swings, ducks glide across the water, and a gentle breeze rustles the leaves of the surrounding trees. Jeremiah sits nearby, seemingly lost in thought.

Ezekiel: [leaning back on the picnic blanket] You know, Barney, I’ve been thinking about how we should obey our leaders in the church. It’s more about following their wise counsel rather than just blindly doing whatever they say.

Barnabas: [scratching his head] Oh, you mean like when I follow the GPS, even if it leads me into a lake? [grins]

Ezekiel: [laughing] Not quite like that, Barney. It’s more about being persuaded by their wisdom and experience. Like when Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Jeremiah: [mumbling to himself, barely paying attention] Right, it’s about being persuaded, not commanded…

Barnabas: [nudging Ezekiel] Hey, Zeke, what’s up with Jeremiah today? He looks like he’s trying to solve the world’s biggest puzzle.

Ezekiel: [glancing at Jeremiah] I noticed that too. Maybe he’s just deep in thought about the topic. So, Barney, did you know that in Hebrews 13:17, the word “obey” actually means to be persuaded, to listen to, to yield to?

Barnabas: [wide-eyed] Whoa, so it’s like when my dog finally sits because he’s convinced I have a treat? [chuckles]

Ezekiel: [smiling] Kind of. It’s about elders leading by persuasion rather than by command. They should have the kind of character that makes us want to follow them willingly.

Barnabas: [trying to connect the dots] So, it’s like when I trust my grandma’s advice on baking cookies because she’s been doing it forever?

Ezekiel: [nodding] Exactly! Elders earn our trust and respect through their godly lives and wise leadership. They guide us, and we follow because we see their dedication to serving Christ.

Jeremiah: [suddenly interjecting] And that’s why it’s crucial to appoint qualified men as elders. If they lack the Spirit-authored qualifications, they might become authoritarian instead of persuasive leaders.

Barnabas: [tilting his head] So, if an elder starts acting like a dictator, it means he wasn’t really qualified in the first place?

Ezekiel: [thoughtful] In many cases, yes. That’s why Paul warned us about self-serving leaders in Acts 20:28-30. We need to be careful who we appoint.

Jeremiah: [absentmindedly nodding] Right, and the congregation should have a say in appointing these leaders, just like in Acts 6:3…

Barnabas: [looking puzzled] Jeremiah, are you even here with us? You keep zoning out like you’re watching an invisible TV.

Ezekiel: [smiling] Yeah, Jeremiah, what’s on your mind? You seem really distracted today.

Jeremiah: [snapping back to the present] Oh, sorry. Just… thinking about something. Anyway, Barney, you should know that elders have the authority to lead, not to boss people around. It’s about influencing with their example, not issuing orders.

Barnabas: [grinning] So, they’re like the head chef in a kitchen. They guide the team, but they don’t micromanage every dish?

Ezekiel: [laughing] Exactly, Barney. And just like in a well-run kitchen, everyone has a role and contributes to the overall success. Elders oversee and guide without taking over every detail.

Jeremiah: [more animated now] And this kind of leadership fosters participation and involvement from everyone in the congregation. It’s about creating an environment where everyone feels valued and included.

Barnabas: [leaning back, satisfied] Got it. Elders should lead like my mom when she organizes our family road trips. She plans the route but lets us pick the snacks and music.

Ezekiel: [smiling] Perfect analogy, Barney. Elders guide the overall direction while allowing room for everyone’s input and participation.

Jeremiah: [sighing, seemingly deep in thought again] Yeah… input and participation…

Barnabas: [whispering to Ezekiel] Seriously, what’s up with him? Should we be worried?

Ezekiel: [whispering back] I don’t know, but let’s keep the conversation going. Maybe he’ll open up.

Barnabas: [speaking up] So, Zeke, about submitting to elders. It’s more about respect and cooperation than just doing what they say, right?

Ezekiel: [nodding] Exactly, Barney. Hebrews 13:17 talks about submitting to their authority out of respect and trust. It’s about yielding to their guidance because we believe they have the congregation’s best interests at heart.

Jeremiah: [distractedly nodding] Submission isn’t about blind obedience, it’s about trusting their judgment…

Barnabas: [playfully] Hey, Jere, are you planning a secret mission or something? You’ve been acting like a secret agent all day!

Jeremiah: [snapping out of it] What? No, nothing like that. Just… some personal stuff on my mind.

Ezekiel: [gently] We’re here for you, Jeremiah. You don’t have to carry whatever it is alone.

Jeremiah: [smiling slightly] Thanks, Ezekiel. I appreciate that. And you too, Barney. Sorry for being so distracted today.

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Barnabas: [grinning] No worries, Jere. Just remember, if you need to talk, we’re all ears. Even if we have to wade through some Greek words to understand you! [laughs]

Ezekiel: [laughing] Yeah, Jeremiah, we’re here. Now, let’s get back to enjoying this beautiful day and the wisdom we’ve been sharing.

[The trio continues their discussion, with Jeremiah gradually opening up more, finding solace in the company of his friends, and the conversation flowing with a blend of humor and deep insights about leadership and obedience in the church.]

Jeremiah and Ezekiel: Eccentric Relatives and Seaside Musings on Eldership

Setting: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and their quirky cousin Barnabas—who they often call “Barney” when he says something especially silly—find themselves at a beautiful seaside beach. The waves crash gently, children laugh and play, and seagulls squawk overhead. The trio is trying to discuss the complexities of eldership in the church, but Barney keeps things interesting.

Jeremiah: [pushing his sunhat back] Ezekiel, I’ve been thinking about the role of elders again. You know, how they’re supposed to lead without being authoritarian.

Ezekiel: [adjusting his beach chair] Absolutely, Jeremiah. Elders are shepherds, not tyrants. They need to guide without lording it over the flock.

Barnabas: [joining the conversation with a goofy grin] Hey, fellas, did you know that “rule” can mean different things? Like, I once ruled over my backyard kingdom with a mighty garden hose! [laughs at his own joke]

Jeremiah: [chuckling] Ah, Barney, always with the corny jokes. But you’re onto something. Words like “rule” in the Bible have various meanings. It’s crucial to understand the context.

Ezekiel: [smiling] Right, Jeremiah. Just like how “fast” can mean quick or going without food. When we talk about the rule of elders, we need to look at the specific Greek words used in the New Testament.
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Barnabas: [scratching his head] Greek, huh? Like the yogurt? [winks]

Jeremiah: [laughing] Not quite, Barney. We’re talking about the original language of the New Testament. Words like “arche” and “despotes” aren’t used to describe elders. These words suggest authoritarian rule, which isn’t what elders should have.

Ezekiel: [gesturing to the ocean] Just like how the sea is vast and uncontrollable, the rule of elders isn’t about exerting complete control over others. They’re not meant to be despots or rulers of provinces.

Barnabas: [trying to keep up] So, no ruling like a king on his throne? More like guiding the ship gently through the waters?

Jeremiah: [nodding] Exactly, Barney. Elders must lead without being authoritarian. As Peter said, they shouldn’t “lord it over” the flock. They need to guide, counsel, and serve.

Ezekiel: [watching a seagull swoop] Remember when Jesus talked about the rulers of the Gentiles? He said they lord it over people, but it shouldn’t be that way among us. Elders should lead by example, not by dominating others.

Barnabas: [leaning in] So, if an elder starts acting like a king, we should give him a timeout? [grins]

Jeremiah: [laughing] Not quite, but close. Elders should be reminded that their role is to serve, not to rule with an iron fist. They’re to be shepherds who care for the flock, not bosses who bark orders.

Ezekiel: [smiling] Exactly. The word “rule” in Hebrews 13:17, for instance, is about leading and guiding, not dominating. Elders are to be leaders through their example and counsel.

Barnabas: [pondering] So, it’s like being the head lifeguard at the beach. You guide and protect, but you don’t throw people out of the water just because you can.

Jeremiah: [smiling] That’s a great analogy, Barney. Elders are there to watch over our souls, much like lifeguards watch over swimmers. They’re to lead by influence, not by force.

Ezekiel: [nodding] Yes, Barney. And just like lifeguards, elders need to act with care, love, and humility. Their leadership is about service, not power.

Barnabas: [looking thoughtful] So, if elders are supposed to lead without being bossy, what happens when they start acting like dictators?

Jeremiah: [serious now] That’s a problem. If elders start exerting authoritarian control, it goes against what Jesus taught. They need to be reminded of their true role and the biblical principles of leadership.

Ezekiel: [watching the waves] Elders are meant to guide, not control. Their authority comes from their ability to counsel and lead by example, not from a position of power.

Barnabas: [smiling again] Got it! Elders are like those sandcastle builders over there. They help shape and guide, but they don’t own the beach.

Jeremiah: [laughing] Perfectly put, Barney. Elders help shape the church through their service and leadership, but they don’t control it. They guide with love and wisdom.

Ezekiel: [grinning] And just like the tides, their influence should ebb and flow gently, nurturing the congregation without overwhelming it.

Barnabas: [laughing] You guys are deep! Almost as deep as the ocean!

Jeremiah: [smiling] Thanks, Barney. And thanks for keeping things light. It’s good to remember that leadership, especially in the church, should always come with a touch of humility and humor.

Ezekiel: [nodding] Absolutely. Now, how about a swim? We’ve earned it after all this deep thinking.

Barnabas: [jumping up] Last one in is a rotten fish!

[The trio laughs and races to the water, their discussion about elders’ roles and responsibilities buoyed by the light-heartedness of family and the beauty of the seaside setting.]