Task of an Elder

The task of our Elders can be summarised as follows

For more information, please see the goals of Session, Cell Groups and our Plan of Action in the Strategic Plan & Policy document, as well as the document on Elder's Districts.

1. Session
1.1. Meets every last Monday of the month at 19:00-19:30 as Cell Group and then for three hours maximum as Specialised Ministry Team, focusing on their task as governing body of the church (see Calendar).

2. Worship Services
2.1. Does duty during Worship Services and Lords Supper as Duty Elder, as agreed and according to WSW Roster. See more detail under pt. 8!

3. Cell Group Leaders
3.1. Visits (phone/sms/email) Cell Group Leaders in his district on a regular base in order to encourage, support, advise, and pray for them.

4. Takes responsibility for
4.1. the Cell Group Leaders residing in their districts, and via the Cell Leaders, also for the members of these Cell Groups
4.2. the members residing within their districts, who are not yet members of Cell groups (not to be responsible for more than 7 Cell Group Leaders, plus 7 non-Cell Group members).

5. New & Potential Members
5.1. Invites new and potential members to attend a New Members Orientation Session (Coffee & Dessert Evening), in cooperation with the New Members Ministry Leader, during which the Strategic Plan and Policy is explained to them.

6. Cell Leaders Orientation
6.1. Personally attend one Orientation Session for New Cell Leaders.
6.2. Identifies potential Cell Leaders within their districts and invite them to attend an Orientation Session for New Cell Leaders.

7. PELL Meetings
7.1. Attends a PELL Meeting with all Pastors, Deacons, Cell Group Leaders, and Ministry Leaders once every term, from 7-8 pm during last Session meeting of the term. The aim of these events is to
7.1.1. Fellowship and build a strong team of Cell Leaders and Ministry Leaders.
7.1.2. Share common problems and concerns as Cell Leaders.
7.1.3. Encourage each other and share ideas that work for their Cell Groups.
7.1.4. Pray together for their Cell Groups, Ministries and for each other.
7.1.5. See to it that Every new Cell Group leader in his district registers his/her group with the relevant Pastor as official Cell Group of our church.

8. The Elder’s Roles With Regards to Worship Services

Contents

1. Oversight of the Preaching of God’s Word
2. Congregational Prayer
3. Lord’s Supper
4. Announcements
5. Facilities

1. Oversight of the Preaching of God’s Word

One of the most important, if not the most important, roles of the elder on duty during the church service is to take responsibility for the sound and accurate preaching of God’s Word. The elder acts as a representative of session and gives session’s stamp of approval on what is said on the pulpit. It is therefore important that the elder knows how to evaluate what is being said with proper criteria.

A summary prepared by Jack De Vries is given below. This summary was taken from three different sources including, the Reformed Theological College evaluation form, CRCA’s official sermon guidelines, and Jack De Vries’ own doctoral thesis “Preaching for Success”. This summary will give the elder a good grasp of how to evaluate “appealing, biblical and reformed preaching”.

1.1. Key aspects of appealing, biblical, reformed preaching

1.1.1. Sermon Evaluation Form

1.1.1.1. The introduction of the sermon grabs listener attention and touches on listener needs either directly or indirectly.
1.1.1.2. The structure and flow of the message is clear.
1.1.1.3. The sermon contains adequate and appropriate explanations, illustrations, and applications of the text.
1.1.1.4. The explanation of the text is accurate, understandable, and support the points made.
1.1.1.5. The application of the text is clear, helpful, and practical. It is motivated by grace and not guilt.
1.1.1.6. The illustrations of the text clarify and strengthen the main idea and/or overall message impact.
1.1.1.7. The conclusion of the sermon is an adequate summary and effective closing of the sermon.
1.1.1.8. The delivery of the sermon was easy to listen to and demonstrated effective communication skills.

1.2. CRCA Sermon Guidelines

1.2.1. The sermon content to be evaluated on the basis of the following:

1.2.2. Accuracy of exegesis.
1.2.3. Does the outline carry the text?
1.2.4. Is the context, including the story of God’s overarching plan of salvation, taken into account?
1.2.5. Is the basic thrust Christ-centred?
1.2.6. Is the sermon doctrinally sound?
1.2.7. Is the teaching applied in a manner consistent with the teaching of the text?
1.2.8. Is the theme developed in a coherent logical manner?

1.3. Preaching For Success

1.3.1. Careful Listening to God’s Word
1.3.2. The sermon accurately explains the scripture passage
1.3.3. The sermon is theo-centric – God-centred (it is a word of God for man not a word of man about God)
1.3.4. The sermon shows how the scripture passage fits into the total pattern of God’s revelation (redemptive history)
1.3.5. Connecting God’s Word to Listeners
1.3.5.1. The sermon accurately applies the passage to the lives of the listeners
1.3.5.2. The sermon accurately applies the passage to the culture of the listeners

1.4. Communication Worth Listening to

1.4.1. The sermon has unity: it communicates a central, unifying idea in a well organised manner
1.4.2. The sermon is timely: it addresses the needs of the listener and is culturally relevant
1.4.3. The sermon is delivered skilfully: it demonstrates effective communication skills
1.4.4. The sermon has integrity: the preacher not only believes but practices what he preaches

2. Congregational Prayer

2.1. The place of the congregational prayer rightly belongs to an office bearer like the elder. They are the ones called by God to pastorally care for, admonish, guide and intercede for, the congregation. As part of this responsibility, God calls elders to be “shepherds” of his flock by being “examples” (1 Pet. 5:2-3). As examples therefore, it is important that we understand the importance of public prayer and how we may positively influence the congregation on how to pray. It is true that you are interceding on behalf of the congregation – in fact, intercessory prayer formed part of the elder’s responsibility in the early church (Acts 20:36). But it is also much more than that.

2.2. Broad

2.2.1. The first aspect of a congregational prayer should be that it’s a broad prayer. This means that the prayer is not limited to the congregation, merely the illnesses and the ailments of our people. It should not be narrow, only focussing on what is happening in our church and our mission. The idea of the public prayer is one that is aware of the public. Yes, the public includes the congregation, but a mission-minded church prays for the lost and the seeking. It prays for God’s kingdom to be established across all spheres of life. It prays mission-minded prayers. In essence these “broad” prayers should touch on the various elements of:
2.2.1.1. The Local Church and Local Mission
2.2.1.2. The Community or City
2.2.1.3. The Nation
2.2.1.4. The World and Overseas Mission

2.2.2. How to do this?
2.2.2.1. Make mental notes during the week on current events, of what’s happening in the church.
2.2.2.2. Involve yourself in what is happening around you in regards to mission, both overseas and locally.

2.3 Complete

2.3.1 The second aspect of the congregational prayer should be that it is complete. This means that the prayer works through all the aspects of how we relate to God because of his grace to us. The biblical examples of prayer include aspects of: praise, adoration/profession of love, confession, thanksgiving, intercession.
2.3.2 Because God has saved us, is continuing to save us and will save us in the future, our praise, adoration, confession, thanksgiving and intercession all make up the relational “dialogue” we have with God. God deserves all of it! Not just intercession (ie. our needs, our sicknesses, our budget).
2.3.3 Examples:
2.3.3.1 “We praise you Father because you have answered our prayer of healing for…”
2.3.3.2 “We love you God because you provided our nation with good rain.”
2.3.3.3 “We confess our brokenness and our need of forgiveness because we have neglected to love the poor.”
2.3.3.4 “Thank you for your involvement in the area of Mansfield, for the many churches that minister to so many people here.”
2.3.3.5 “Please grant healing to our brother … who is suffering with…”
2.3.3.6 “Lord, we ask that you provide godly husbands and wives for our children…”

2.4 Consistent

2.4.1 The third aspect to an uplifting, biblical congregational prayer is that it should be consistent. This means that the prayer is focussed and guided by a distinct structure, there is a “theme” with regards to the prayer. Often this can be a theme based on the sermon or service’s theme (eg. a prayer with the overarching theme of “family” or “gospel/mission”). The broad and complete principles of congregational prayers are still applied but they are shaped by a definite theme or consistency. Instead of praying for auntie Sue’s sore toe, then jumping to forgiveness for lustful thoughts, then thanking God for the Prime Minister, a congregational prayer that works with a definite theme is much more powerful to reach the hearts and minds of those listening.
2.4.2 For example,
2.4.2.1 “Lord, we want to come to you to say we love you for what you have done in the hearts of our children. We praise you for their honesty and thirst for knowledge and the simple faith by which they live. We also desire to live our lives with child-like faith. Forgive us for when we become too proud or clever for our own good. We ask that you be with the children of Mansfield State High as they complete their final term, we pray that they may come to an understanding of your presence in their lives. We also pray for children in Thailand who today are being forced into prostitution and slave labour. You are completely just and righteous, O God, please act with justice and mercy in these situations. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
2.4.3 The theme of “children”, “childhood”, etc. is a consistent theme throughout the prayer and helps the congregation to focus their thoughts in prayer on a single over-arching motif.

2.5 Some quick points on what Jesus had to say about praying:

2.5.1 Don’t “preach” in the prayer. Jesus warned about hypocrisy and pride in prayer (Matt 6:5-6) Our prayer is directed to God, not speaking to the congregation. Eg. “Lord, we need to be more forgiving of one another and to lend each other a hand in difficult times. Lord, Joseph forgave his brothers in the Book of Genesis, he knew that it was God who sent him to Egypt and not his brothers. We need to be more forgiving. Amen”
2.5.2 Jesus warns us not to be repetitive in prayer or the “babble” (Matt 6:7-8). Avoid “clich├ęs” and throw away lines that are said without thought. Likewise, there is a something to be said against overly long prayers that have many words but little content.

3. Lord’s Supper

3.1 Mansfield CRC celebrates the Lord’s Supper (LS) every 8 weeks. As part of the worship service, the elders play an important part as being representatives of the congregation around the Lord’s Supper table and as distributors of the elements of bread and wine.

3.2 Since it forms part of the public worship service, it is important that the Lord’s Supper celebration is done in a respectful and orderly fashion (1 Cor 14:33).

3.3 Attendance

3.3.1 It is important that all elders make an effort to be at the Lord’s Supper service. There is only 6 every year, mark them on your calendar and plan accordingly.

3.4 Procedure

3.4.1 During the LS service, when the minister comes to the table to administer the sacrament, the elders should also make their way to the front of the church to sit at the nearest available seats to the LS table.
3.4.2 The duty elder and one other elder should take a seat on either side of the presiding minister. They represent the congregation at the Lord’s Supper table. They generally do not distribute the elements to the congregation.
3.4.3 The minister will break the bread and pour the wine and pass the distribution trays to the elders who are seated near the front. They need to come up to collect the trays. If there are more than five (5) elders present, some may remain seated while the other five elders receive the distribution trays.
3.4.4 Once they have their trays, the elders should then proceed to the five aisles of the church.
3.4.5 Do not serve the seated elders, they will be served after the whole congregation has received the elements.
3.4.6 Proceed down the aisles distributing the elements. Four elders will serve each section of seating (there are four sections).
3.4.7 The fifth (in the middle aisle) will proceed to the back of the church and distribute to the sound desk, the extra seating at the back of the church (the seating not part of the main sections of seating) and the cry room.
3.4.8 The fifth elder should have leftover bread/wine after serving the sound desk, extra seating and cry room. He should wait at the back of the church until the distribution is finished. On Sundays where the church is particularly full, the other elders may signal to him that they require more of the elements. In this case he should help out with distribution in those sections.
3.4.9 When the elders finish the distribution in their section, they should go and wait at the back of the church until all the distributions are complete. Then as a group they can file back through the middle aisle to the LS table and return their trays to the presiding minister.
3.4.10 Having returned the trays to the minister, the elders will take a seat near the table, while the minister will himself serve the elders (or, if he asks the duty elder sitting at his side to serve the elders, the duty elder does not serve the other elder sitting at the side of the minister).
3.4.11 The minister then leads the break of the bread or the pouring of the wine and finally shares the bread/wine with the elders at his side.

4. Announcements

4.1. Elder to have read and understood the week’s bulletin. Of special importance to highlight are the specific points raised in E-Bulletin that week. People should be directed to website, E-bulletin or Bulletin during every announcement.
4.2. Preferably, any announcements from congregation members need to have been communicated with Elder during the week prior to Sunday. Encourage members to get their requests for announcements in early.
4.3. Make sure not to read the announcements out of the bulletin. Summarise the advertisements or announcements and then refer them to the bulletin for further details.
4.4. Invite new visitors to have something to eat and drink with the congregation after the service. Invite them to make themselves known to the duty elder if they want more information about the church.
4.5. Visuals tech should have a Powerpoint slide with the E-bulletin points showing on the projector screen during announcements slot. This will re-affirm what has been announced during the week and will visually track what the elder is announcing on stage.

5. Facilities

5.1. It’s the responsibility of the duty elder to ensure that the facilities of the church building and hall are opened and locked at the beginning and the end of every service respectively. Likewise, all the lights, internal and external, should be turned The responsibility falls on the elder to make sure this happens, whether they always do this personally or delegate the task. The buck stops with the elder.

5.2. Areas that need to be checked:

5.2.1. Church building – front doors, sliding doors and emergency doors. Door to the offices should also be locked.
5.2.2. Church building – lights, data projector and sound desk turned off (this is the responsibility of the sound techs but a cursory glance is beneficial).
5.2.3. Hall – All doors locked including sliding doors.
5.2.4. Hall – All lights turned off, including external lights (except for permanent safety lights which can not be turned off) and car park flood lights.
5.2.5. Toilets – lights turned off and doors locked.

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