How Many Elders Should A Church Have?

Recently a pastor friend asked this question in an online discussion forum.

I can’t speak for every church but here was my response.

“It depends on what the expectations for an Elder are.

At Richardson Seventh-day Adventist Church we have ten Elders (membership 850, attendance 615). In the future I imagine many more Elders will emerge.

All our Elders are involved in 3 specific ways –

  1. Worship Elder. Rotation. Meet with participants 15min before service for prayer. Available to assist with any unforeseen needs during the service (prayer, scripture, preaching!). Minister to people with the preacher/pastor 15 min after the service.
  2. Mentoring Church Board Mentors. During Church Board huddle with their designated 3-7 Church Board Mentors for 15min. Mentor outside church board meeting as needed/desired.
  3. Geographic Zones. Each Elder oversees ministry to group leaders, members and interests in their designated 1-3 geographic zones. Phone contacts, connecting people with other people and groups, visits, hospitality, etc.

Before ordaining someone as an Elder we expect them to lead 1-3 ministries successfully (e.g. Sabbath School group leader, Bible Workers leader, Young Adult leader, Pathfinder Leader, Visitation Leader, Bible Study Group leader, Mission Team leader, etc.). Before electing anyone to the Church Board, including Elders, they need to be cleared by treasury (evidence of returning both tithe and local church budget offerings) and clerk (member of local congregation at least 12 months and no ministry restrictions because of church discipline or criminal sexual conviction).

The Bible says to not lay hands on someone too quickly. We put all willing members and attenders into ministry immediately, but we are very careful who the Church Board Mentors (including Elders) are.

I hope this helps.”

Why not re-evaluate the role and expectations of the elders in your church(es). This might be a good discussion starter at your next Elders meeting. Don’t overlook the wonderful counsel we have in the Bible and the writings of Ellen White.

Blessings to you,

Dan Serns

P.S. Check out our recently upgraded website at

About danserns

Happily married and father of three great kids. Seventh-day Adventist pastor who invites everyone to accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord, embrace all the teachings of the Bible and join a vibrant Adventist group.
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2 Responses to How Many Elders Should A Church Have?

  1. This makes a lot of sense to me. According to Acts 6 they only chose 7 deacons while the church was growing by leaps and bounds. Acts 6 also mentions the “12” who were probably the elders or apostles. Of course you don’t have to be an elder or a deacon to serve in the church. Meanwhile there are many who want the label but don’t want to serve. Back in Texas I had an elder who would get upset when kids would have the prayer and Scripture reading in church. That was his job he said and he did not want the kids taking his job away. Meanwhile he never visited the sick or gave a single Bible study. Meanwhile the kids were sharing Jesus with their friends and visiting the nursing homes once a month, so they were more like elders than he was.

  2. Jean Hagen says:

    Hello Dan,

    Merry Christmas!!

    I like your email very much about how many Elders should a church have and also the qualifacations

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