Elders are one of the many gifts of grace to each church and to each Christian. Although Scripture is certainly a Church and a believer’s final authority on all matters, God has revealed in the Scriptures that He uses elders to shape us in our Christian walk. This is true on a corporate level where each Christian fulfils his part in each Church, and this is also true on a personal level where each Christian needs to live godly and sensibly. Hebrews 13:17 describes elders as though who care for your soul. By His design, God has appointed men to care for your soul. Elders are God’s gift of grace to your church, and to yourself.
However there are many Christian individually, and many Churches corporately, who function without any elders. This is detrimental on many levels. Titus 1:5 refers to elderless congregations as places where things are still not fully put in order. The missionary journeys of Paul, as Acts records it for us, likewise prove that missionary work is only ready for transition when elders have been appointed (Acts 14:23).
Elders ensure that the theological and cultural issues of each era do not cause unbiblical division among the saints (Acts 15:2). Elders oversee the giving of money so there is no abuse of it (Acts 11:29-30). When there is a need for a very specific application of a Biblical principle where Scripture does not give very specific instruction, then it is by the elders that wisdom will be found to be obeyed (Acts 16:4 and Hebrews 13:17).
With such great influence, it is crucial to have elders of such integrity that you can trust them to keep you and your church on the right track. Therefore God has clearly laid out the most basic prerequisites (1 Tim 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9). God has also shown that they are not self-appointed (1 Tim 4:14), and have specific tasks to fulfil (1 Pet 5:1-3).
Do you love your elders (1 Tim 5:17)? Do you allow them to bring you back to the Word of God when needed (Heb 13:17)? Do you seek and follow their wisdom in matters not clearly explained in Scripture (Heb 13:7)? Do not be part of an elderless Church and do not be an elderless Christian.