The Scope of a Local Eldership

There are many ideas which are accepted and believed as “OK” in society and in religion which flat out are against the will of God. Man says that an eldership or one local congregation can oversee the work or part of the work of another congregation. But what does God say?
The popular thinking in society and in some churches today is that the end justifies the means. The idea is that as long as we get the job done, it doesn’t matter how we do it.
When Nadab and Abihu, who were priest brothers, offered God a strange fire which He had not commanded, they both were consumed with fire from God at the altar. Some people would say: “Fire is fire.” God thought otherwise. They were told to take their fire from the fire burning in the altar to burn their incense before the Lord (Leviticus 6:9; 16:12). Some people might say the command was somewhat “vague,” but this is what God said. Were they testing God? I don’t know. Were they doing something they thought was more convenient at the time? Maybe. Whatever their thinking, the end certainly did not justify the means! (Proverbs 14:12).
The New Testament shows us that each local church is independent of other congregations with the design being elders in every church to take the oversight (Acts 14:23; Phil. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:2). The fact that the Holy Spirit directed the apostles to appoint elders (plural) in every congregation teaches us that one individual man cannot have the oversight over a congregation, neither can one group of elders from one congregation take the oversight over another congregation–even a little of their work.
Like Nadab and Abihu, some congregations today feel like they have a better plan than God’s plan, so they devise plans that require other congregations to do “more” work. If one eldership can plan and oversee a statewide or nationwide work such as the old Herald of Truth and One Nation Under God; then, why even have elders in every congregation? Don’t you think the wisdom of God had elders appointed in every church to keep power hungry men in check? It is quite possible. God’s plan got the work done in the first century and His plan will still work today. The end does not justify the means when we try to improve upon or add to God’s plans for the church. How can it be scriptural to plan a work that is beyond the financial means of the local church’s collections which then requires the elders to ask other churches for additional funding to get their work done? It’s like this: “Let us plan a super work to oversee and you send us your money from your local treasuries for this local eldership to oversee and carry out the work.” It cannot be just another way to get things done because these elders are planning beyond the scope of their local oversight and financial means. If each church will take care of its locality, the work will be done! Going beyond the teaching of 1st Peter 5:2 is just like taking fire from another source besides the altar fire to burn incense to God! Does God not notice how we treat His commands? We must speak “as the oracles of God!” (1 Peter 4:11).
1 Peter 5:2 should be very clear to the reader because it specifically limits the scope of one group of elder’s oversight: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind…”
Now, who is to feed and take oversight over the flock? The elders. Elders in every church (Acts 14:23). What is the flock? It is the brothers and sisters in that local church? Note: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof…”–not over some congregation in the next town, not over some congregation in Asia! Where does the local elder’s range or window of oversight begin and end? It begins with the congregation over which they are appointed (Acts 14:23) and ends with the “flock which is among you” (1 Pet. 5:2). This is what the Bible says. This is a direct command from one of Christ’ apostles. The apostles’ commands are the commandments of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 14:37).
Let us be very careful in trying to “help God” or improve upon His plan. Our Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). We should keep on preaching, teaching and practicing what we have been doing: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). I want to do what God says, not what man says. How about you?

Cite this article as: Michael Baggett, "The Scope of a Local Eldership," in Answering Religious Error, July 24, 2016,
The Scope of a Local Eldership