Hebrews 13:17 NASB
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief for this would be unprofitable for you.” (Heb. 13:17).
From this passage, you see that Elders have a great responsibility to guide and protect the local congregation. Paul said to the Ephesian Elders to, “be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock…” (Acts 20:28). On judgment day, they will give an account for the souls they watch over. It’s an important work they do and a congregation is fortunate to have them. It follows that the members of the church have a responsibility to obey the leaders. Areas of concern to Elders include:
1. Worship concerns. All Christians need to assemble for the worship of God. Skipping worship is disobedience to God and is a pretty good indicator of spiritual sickness (Hebrews 10:25-26). The failure to faithfully worship on the Lord’s Day and to participate in Christian activities–like Bible studies and fellowships–makes it impossible for Elders to do their work.
2. Unity concerns. The congregation needs to be unified (Ephesians 4:1-3). If Christians are not getting along, it jeopardizes the overall health of the local congregation. Elders have a concern that all parties work out their differences.
3. Holiness concerns. All members of God’s family are to live according to the word of God, in all holiness. If Christians do not conduct themselves in a manner worthy of Christ, Elders have to be close enough to know it so they may shepherd the erring Christian back to Christ.
4. Teaching concerns. All Christians are to confess Christ and inasmuch as they tell the Good News to others, they need to be accurate so that they are not found to be false teachers. Paul’s admonition to Timothy to faithfully teach the Word is appropriate for every Christian (2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Timothy 4:16).
5. Relocated members. One area of concern to Elders has to do with Christians who, because of job or family matters, are new to the area and begin worshipping with them. Elders have to be concerned that relocated Christians submit to the items mentioned above. Since they were not part of the selection and appointment of the Elders, and do not immediately feel the affinity toward them that the rest of the congregation does, newly relocated members may be uncomfortable with submitting to them. Since there is no provision in the Bible for removing Elders because the congregation has new members, the new members are responsible to submit to them as long as the Elders are found to be faithful to the Word. For practical reasons, it is entirely appropriate and expedient for Elders to ask new members to make a commitment to the local congregation, and in some fashion, to communicate that to the rest of the congregation.
Anyone who teaches error, or in any way jeopardizes the well-being of the local congregation, is the subject of concern for Elders. These men serve as Shepherds of the flock with integrity and courage because of their love for God and mankind. Obey the leaders; to do otherwise would be unprofitable for you.