Monday, November 29, 2010

Elder Rule and Control vs. Example

One time I was talking with a church elder about certain matters, and he described to me his function within his church.  He told me about the measures he took in "overseeing" all the activities there.  He and the other elders interjected themselves in the lives of other people when they saw something they didn't think was right.  They took painstaking steps to keep a tight watch on all that was being taught there, and he had a herculean task in protecting all the church people in deciding what literature and ideas they were exposed to, and what avenues were appropriate for the people discussing God's word.  It was like a large censorship committee.

I think this man may have been trying to impress me somewhat with just how time consuming and grave a matter it was in being an elder.  But as his descriptions of his duties unfolded, I was struck with just how much it sounded like he and his peers were trying to control the church.  His job wasn't so much about shepherding the sheep and endeavoring to bring God's people to maturity in Christ.  It was about preventive damage control.  It was more about making sure the electric fence had enough zap in it so that no sheep would escape and stray than it was about feeding and watering and leading.  My suggestion that elders that had such a grip on their church were practicing overlording rather than leading by example didn't sit well with this man.

I knew he learned all his leadership ideas from well practiced systems that other men had widely taught.  It was clear to me that people who thought for themselves and tried to make a difference with their own faith might have a problem under these men's watchful eyes.  But where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  Too bad men like this are so suspicious of other Christians that they feel the need to control them.


  1. yup.... and then they wonder why we left... (or tell slanderous lies about why we left...) after all they are the elders so how could they be wrong or be the problem...?

    (sigh...) thank God those self-serving "elders" are no longer a part of our lives...

  2. Most people assume that because we recognize some people as "elders" that we are "elder ruled." That's not the case at all.