The following question came up recently concerning the eldership in our congregation. One of the couples in our oversight group just moved to another city. We believe in the importance of a plurality of elders. Can you shed some insight into how we should handle this situation? Of course we continue to ask God to bless us with another couple that is qualified to serve in the eldership. We continue to do the work to the best of our abilities to serve the Church the best we can.

Our church has a definite culture. My answer may not be the best when you take into account the practical realities of your local situation. But here goes anyway…

I believe an overseer is the one who oversees the work – the actual leader. Plural leadership is the plan of God. In many churches, there is no “eldership.” Yet there are overseers. Whoever leads the work is obviously an overseer. Which may be to say that the evangelists, interns, ministers, or whoever is leading are somehow exempting themselves from the requirements of 1 Timothy 3.

Unless there is only one leader left in your congregation, I'd say you de facto do indeed have an eldership. Some churches "dissolve" the eldership when they are down to one elder. And so you may need to “step down” – not that your responsibilities would change one iota – but in order to prevent some from stumbling. Yet, in my view, whoever is in the leadership group is, by virtue of their service and oversight, an "overseer." He is a shepherd, biblically speaking.

Also check out the short article on terminology.