The Oversight

1. Ministry (Greek: 'diakonos', i.e. deacons) in an assembly includes all those ministering, e.g. pastors, teachers, house-meeting leaders, counsellors, etc. It includes both male and female (ROMANS 16:1; Servant equals 'diakonos').

2. Oversight (Greek: 'episkopos', i.e. bishops) and elders (Greek: 'presbuteros') are synonymous terms (e.g. 1 PETER 5:1-2, "Elders ... taking the oversight") for those taken from the ministry and given authority to "rule" (HEBREWS 13:17) or guide the church, as shepherds guide a flock. They are men only (1 TIMOTHY 2:12).

3. All pastors are overseers/elders on the basis of their proven ministry (1 CORINTHIANS 3:5; 1 CORINTHIANS 9:1-2) and oversight (1 PETER 5:1-4).

4. They can nominate other oversight to assist them just as Paul and Titus (proven ministries) appointed oversight (ACTS 14:23; TITUS 1:5). Not all those who minister in an assembly are oversight.

5. The prime responsibility of the oversight is to establish and maintain sound doctrine and a sound and harmonious environment, in which the saints can grow and bring forth fruit (EPHESIANS 4:12-14). They serve up this environment/pasture to the flock (MATTHEW 20:27).

6. To fulfil this role the oversight will:

  1. Labour in the Word of God to help all (1 TIMOTHY 5:17; 2 CORINTHIANS 1:24).
  2. Identify and stop the spread of unsound or divisionary doctrine (ROMANS 16:17).
  3. Stop immorality (1 CORINTHIANS 5:6-7; GALATIANS 5:19-21).
  4. Curb unruly, extravagant, or over-emotional behaviour that could offend the assembly or new people (2 THESSALONIANS 3:6-15).
  5. Establish reasonable standards of dress and conduct (1 TIMOTHY 2:8-10).
  6. Keep out "wolves" who take away "lambs" (ACTS 20:29).
  7. Nominate from the Word of God what is right and wrong (JEREMIAH 23:18-22).
  8. Initiate and promote outreach activities.
  9. Counsel and support the hurt or weak (ROMANS 15:1).
  10. Supervise the expenditure of funds given to the Lord's work, for the maximum benefit of His saints (1 PETER 5:2).
  11. Be paid for their ministry as appropriate (1 TIMOTHY 5:18).

7. The assembly's attitude to its oversight is most important. They are your "fathers" (1 CORINTHIANS 4:15-16). Follow them - not the 10,000 teachers around. They must give account for your souls (HEBREWS 13:7,17). The saints must obey, submit to (HEBREWS 13:7), honour, love (1 TIMOTHY 5:17), communicate with (GALATIANS 6:6), follow (1 CORINTHIANS 4:16) and pray for (1 THESSALONIANS 5:25) the oversight.

8. If you become aware of immoral or unscriptural happenings in the assembly, you must tell the oversight. It is their job to resolve, not yours.

9. An assembly is not a democracy. The oversight is answerable to God - not to the people. If the oversight fails, God will give the flock to another as with Saul and David. There is no striving involved.

10. The people must trust God and totally support their local assembly, believing He controls it. This is His pattern, not man's.

Source: 'Voice of Revival'