You are currently viewing How to Be an Elder on Sunday Morning

How to Be an Elder on Sunday Morning

The elders of God’s church are called to shepherd his flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1–3). We should know, feed, lead, and protect Christ’s sheep (John 10:11–18). Because elders greatly influence a church’s health, God will hold us accountable (Heb. 13:17; Titus 1:5).

Yet a healthy Christian community is also a joy to lead (Heb. 13:17). We’re stretched toward Christlikeness as we imitate our good Shepherd (John 10:11–18; 1 Tim. 4:15). Indeed, faithful elders will receive a crown of glory from the chief Shepherd himself (1 Pet. 5:4).

Two Ways to Think on Sunday Morning

Elders are always responsible for the church. But we function in focused ways when the church gathers. Here are two ways an elder should think on Sundays.

1. Think like a father (1 Thess. 2:11–12; 1 Tim. 3:4–5).

Imagine you’re attending an event with a friend, coworker, or client. How do you approach it? Now imagine you’re going with your children, as a father. How is your approach different?

Seeing things like a father changes everything. Elders provide fatherly leadership, care, and protection for God’s family. Thinking like a father on Sundays should warm your heart, clarify your focus, and make you more alert as you care for God’s family.

2. Think like a host (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:7–8).

Each Sunday, newcomers are among us. They aren’t customers to impress or strangers to ignore but guests to welcome. As honored guests, they should receive the same lavish hospitality we’ve received from God.

Engage visitors in conversation, anticipate their needs, show them around, sit with them, introduce them to others, and invite them to lunch. “An overseer must be . . . hospitable” (1 Tim. 3:2). If biblical hospitality opens our homes, how much more our hearts on Sunday? When the elders show warmth at our gatherings, our entire church family warms over time.

Ten Things to Do on Sunday Morning

When an elder thinks like a father and a host, a wonderful constellation of opportunities lights up. Much good is done when elders love in small ways.

1. Pray for the church (Phil. 1:9–11).

Every Sunday is a fresh celebration of Jesus’s victory over sin and death. Every Sunday is a needed pit stop for weary pilgrims. Every Sunday brings a fresh meal from God’s Word. Every Sunday is an opportunity to gather at one table. Every Sunday can bring fellowship for the lonely, healing for the hurting, and strength for the battle. And every Sunday is a fresh declaration to the principalities and powers that Christ is wiser and Christ is winning (Eph. 3:10).

When the elders show warmth at our gatherings, our entire church family warms over time.

So every Sunday, we should pray that God’s Spirit would move mightily among us as he acts out Christ’s promise to build his church (Matt. 16:18).

2. Come early and stay late (Ps. 84:10).

A Sunday gathering is the central time when our whole church family worships together, an opportunity to welcome guests, a chance to encourage our volunteers, and a window for elders to model loving leadership. Come early and stay late to take full advantage of this sacred time in God’s presence.

3. Initiate personal conversations (Eph. 4:15–16; 1 Thess. 5:11).

Knowing the sheep starts with interaction, and interaction starts with conversation. You don’t need to be an extrovert or a master small-talker. Just ask personal questions, listen well, and be your in-Christ self.

4. Move around the church (Heb. 10:24–25).

We all have our traffic patterns. So break it up. Wander down to the kids’ area to talk with parents and children. Move across the sanctuary to greet those you rarely see. Spend time in the parking lot welcoming people coming in. Make your way to the youth area and connect with the students. Come review the service plan and pray with the musicians. What you see depends on where you stand—so move around and see all God is doing.

5. Encourage staff and volunteers (Rom. 16:1–2).

Ultimately, the church’s ministry is sustained by those who actively serve. Every member plays a part, but there’s always a group that consistently gives themselves away. Look out for them and be generous with your praise, encouragement, and support.

6. Be an alert observer (Acts 20:28).

Who’s connecting? Who looks new, alone, or lost? Anyone look suspicious? Whose gifts and personality might fit a specific ministry? Whose gifts might fit better elsewhere? What was encouraging in the service, and what fell flat? Be an alert observer, and the Sunday gathering will come alive with opportunity.

7. Connect people with each other (Eccl. 4:9–10).

Over time, elders grow familiar with the church. We learn about needs, resources, personalities, opportunities, ministries, and all the oral traditions of a community. With this knowledge, we can be helpful networkers.

See a young family visiting for the first time? Connect them with another family. Hear a member saying great things about the music? Send her over to the worship leader to share. See a guest walking in alone? Invite him to sit with you, or find him someone to sit with. Sheep need fellowship as much as they need shepherds. So connect them with each other.

8. Be a lead worshiper (1 Pet. 5:3).

Our leadership doesn’t end when the worship service begins. The sanctuary is a place to model relational pursuit, prayerful preparation, joyful worship, engaged listening, and sacred attention to the things of God. Our people aren’t just paying attention to the people up front. They’re also following their elders.

9. Follow up faithfully (Prov. 10:4).

Consider setting aside a brief time each Sunday to follow up with people you talked with and pray for things you observed. Capturing your follow-up tasks and taking care of them quickly will ensure God’s people are well cared for—and leave you with a clear conscience.

10. Go home and rest well (Ps. 127:1–2).

Ultimately, the church is the Lord’s. So we show up, exercise gentle oversight, pursue people, follow up faithfully, and then rest well. God’s Word stands eternal in the heavens; Christ will build his church; his kingdom is forever. We just have a front-row seat as his instruments. Every Sunday, go home and rest well.

Sacred Opportunity

Sunday mornings are a special time in a church’s life. Yet they can also become routine. As elders, we must remember our Sunday gatherings are teeming with sacred opportunities. We can rejoice with those who rejoice, strengthen those who falter, welcome in the lost, improve our many ministries, spark new ideas, and partner as a team during the special season God’s given us as fellow elders.

May you find joy in this honorable task, looking forward to the day when Christ honors you for your faithful service.


Leave a Reply