How many elders should a church have?

The Bible doesn’t tell us how many elders should a church have. Nevertheless, the minimal number will be one. This is because the pastor is an elder. So, if a group of people gathers in order to participate in baptism, communion, hear the preaching of the word, and experience fellowship with other believers, then there must be at least one person who preaches the word. That one person would function as an elder – even though he might not be an elder.

1 Timothy 5:17–18, “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.’”

However, there are different situations that can affect how many elders are in the church. Generally speaking, an elder is chosen within the congregation to function as either a preacher or someone who exercises authority in the church in order to fulfill a certain function.

Different Situations

There are different scenarios that affect how many elders could be in a particular church.

Small church – What if there is a church with just ten people in it? At the very least, there will be one elder, the pastor. Because the pastor is, by definition, an elder (1 Tim. 5:17).
Elders who leave – It is possible that elders could retire or move away. In that case, a particular church might find itself without elders for a while as it looks for replacements.
A new church plant – it is possible that there can be a particular pastor who leaves a church for the purpose of starting another church, and there hasn’t been time to develop elders of the congregation wh
An elder from a different church as pulpit supply – If a church doesn’t have an elder due to the reasons above, then a church could have a visiting qualified person/elder/retired pastor who preaches.
A large church – There might be a church with hundreds or even thousands of congregants. In that case, we would expect to find a plurality of elders. There might be one in charge of counseling, another in charge of visitations, another who oversees a school, or teaches various classes, etc.


So, Though the Bible doesn’t tell us specifically how many elders must be in churches, we can conclude that the minimum would be one. And with large churches in modern society, we could have many elders who have different functions. So, I would conclude that when we ask how many elders of the church should have, we should see at least one and then more depending on the need in the situation.

The post How many elders should a church have? appeared first on Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry.






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