What is the role of a pastor or elder in the church discipline process? Assuming they are not the person being addressed through the discipline they may be involved from step1: Go to the person directly and show them their fault. The question that arises is if they have to be involved when the discipline moves to step 2: If he will not listen take one or two others along. This establishes witnesses.
Some churches do believe that elders or pastors need to be involved at step 2. Others will not agree. Those that believe this are often pastor led or elder led churches, and often are the type of churches that will take a serious approach to church discipline. If you are moving to step 2 you will need to make an assessment based on your understanding of your church beliefs. Some churches may not feel an elder/pastor has to be involved at step 2, however if things need to move beyond step 2 they may want to basically repeat that step with their involvement to see if things change.
The role of the elders in leading the church goes back to the stories of Moses in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. There is a lot of varied views on what the role of the elders are, how involved they should be, how much power they should have, and exactly how that authority and power should be administered. Take the time to learn about your own churches beliefs about this.
There are some scriptures that are pretty clear about some aspects of the elders role:
- 1 Timothy 5:17 “the elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”
- Titus 1:6-7 “An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.”
- James 5:14 “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
- 1 Peter 5:1-3 “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
So, what is an elder’s role? It will vary a little depending on the exact beliefs of your church but they are to direct the affairs of the church, be blameless, not be overbearing and quick tempered, pray for others, shepherd others, and they should not lord their leadership and direction over others. Maybe it is worth a look back at the post on The Heart Behind Addressing Sin.