The calling of an elder gets us involved in many parts of the church's life. We get involved in different ways. We make visits, attend committee meetings as liaisons, and attend elders meetings and council meetings. In each instance, we take on a particular distinct role in which we can define responsibilities and face limitations.
Here are some of these particular roles:
- The Elder as Pastoral Visitor: in this role we engage in a task of visiting a person with the intention of providing care and comfort.
- The Elder as Council Member: in this role we engage in the key tasks of developing and upholding the vision and mission of the church, holding committees and leaders accountable, developing budgets that match the mission and developing and approving policies to guide the individuals and committees of the church.
- The Elder as an Administrator: sometimes an elder is given particular responsibilities in the administration of church programs. The job has a set of responsibilities and lines of accountability.
- The Elder as Team Member: In order for the team to function well, the elder has responsibilities of support, feedback, and giving ones gifts to the united purpose of the team.
These roles combine with the many others we have in our community life: father, brother, employer, employee, etc. We need to learn how to handle our different roles. Because I am a employer does not mean I can share information from the workplace in the pastoral elders meeting. There are issues of confidentiality, conflict of interest, and due process. Because I am a father does not mean I can do an end run around the youth pastor by raising issues in the council room. There are issues of due process, lines of accountability, and a child’s responsibility to raise issues.
Recognizing our various roles, considering what is required by them, and accepting their limitations goes a long way to keeping appropriate boundaries in the church’s life.