UNIT 4 (a)

How the Elders
Work Together as a Body

"In the multitude of counselors there is accomplishment,"
states Proverbs 15:22. A congregation having a body of older
men who work closely together is indeed blessed. But what is
the key to their being able to work in unity? Primarily, it is
their recognizing Jesus Christ as Head of the Christian con-

When elders meet together, Christ's headship should
dominate. (1 Cor. 11:3) Their meetings should be well
arranged. ( 1 Cor. 14:40) They should try to reach decisions
on matters discussed. Definite arrangements should be made
for someone to follow through on the decisions that are
made. How can the presiding overseer conduct meaningful
elders' meetings? What must each individual elder do to
make a positive contribution to these meetings? But first,
what is involved in recognizing Christ's headship, and how
does this unite a body of elders?

Recognizing the Headship
of Christ Unites the Body

Although Jehovah God is the Shepherd and Overseer of
our souls, he has appointed Jesus Christ as Head of the
Christian congregation. (Eph. 1:22, 23; 1 Pet. 2:25)

By genuinely accepting Jesus Christ as Head of the Chris-
tian congregation, elders will be motivated to do the

Let the Bible be the guide in making decisions. (John 7:
16, 17)

Respect information and direction coming from agen-
cies used by "the faithful and discreet slave." (Matt. 24:
45-47 )

Treat the congregation as God's inheritance, not lord-
ing it over them. ( 1 Pet. 5 :1-3 )


Avoid imposing personal viewpoints, opinions, or arbi-
trary rules on the congregation or the body of elders.

Deal in a kind and loving manner regarding each indi-
vidual in the congregation. (Matt. 11:28-30; John 21:

Listen carefully to the expressions of fellow elders.
(Matt. 18:20; Rom. 12:10b)

Pray when a discussion among elders seems to falter.

(For additional information, see The Watchtower, De-
cember 1, 1986, pages 10-20. ) .

Jesus Christ controls all bodies of elders. At Revelation
1:20 they are likened to seven stars upon his right hand.
(re pp. 28-9)

Jesus, by means of God's holy spirit, can influence any
elder on the body to provide the Bible-based suggestions
needed for any given situation. (Matt. 18:20; Acts 15:

By accepting this fact, elders will be helped to work
together as a body.

Each elder should listen carefully to the Scriptural sugges-
tions of the other elders.

We should not make an independent decision for the
congregation if a matter is one on which we should
consult other elders.

What Enables Elders to
Display the Spirit of Cooperation

Jehovah, through his Son, unifies the congregation for
harmonious cooperation. (Eph. 4:16; compare Romans

Elders are really cooperating with Jehovah when they
cooperate as a body for the good of the congregation.
(Col. 2:19; 1 Cor. 12)

Cooperation is a result of displaying the fruitage of the
spirit, which every elder should cultivate in his personal
life, both publicly and privately. (Gal. 5:22, 23)

UNIT4 (a) 65

In the following ways, elders show that they are cooperat-
ing together and striving to maintain the unity referred to
at Psalm 133:1:

Keeping communication among elders open and free,
especially if there are differences in background.

Sharing pertinent information with fellow elders.

Not shielding elders or their relatives from needed

Seeking assistance and suggestions from elders who
have much experience.

Not campaigning among fellow elders to undermine
decisions of the body that do not meet personal prefer-

Accepting fellow elders' excelling qualities, as well as
their limited abilities.

Not finding fault with fellow elders as they are learning
new duties.

Making sure that reports and records that other elders
need to refer to are available and up-to-date.

Promptly following through to completion on assign-
ments given by the body.

It should be possible for bodies of elders to be unanimous
in most of their decisions. (Acts 15:25)

If Bible principles are involved, the elders should make
their decision in harmony with these.

When there is counsel from the faithful and discreet slave
on the matter, either by letter or from the Society's
publications, the elders will want to take that counsel to
heart. (Matt. 24:45)

Other matters may generally be decided by the majority
of the elders on the basis of their sound judgment and of
their concern for providing the best guidance and direc-
tion for the congregation.

Even the majority should not insist on a personal
viewpoint if such does not take into consideration

66 "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock "

Scriptural principles and the peace, unity, and spiritual
welfare of all members of the congregation.

At Romans 12:10, Paul exhorts: "In showing honor to
one another take the lead."

If elders honor one another, they will not insist that their
personal viewpoints be adopted when matters are dis-

Individual elders will cooperate closely with what the
body of elders as a whole determines is in the best
interests of the congregation.

If the majority decide that a matter should be
handled in a certain way, then the minority should
give willing support to such a decision.

However, if those in the minority have a Bible
reference and comments in print on the matter
from the faithful and discreet slave, the majority
should recognize such corrective information so
that a Bible-based decision can be reached.

If in the opinion of the minority a Bible-based
decision is still not reached, the minority should
continue to cooperate with the rest of the body
and bring the matter to the attention of the
circuit overseer during his regular visit.

The congregation will cooperate if they sense that all the
elders base their decisions on God's Word. (2 Tim. 3:
16, 17)

Working Together as a Body of Elders

Working together as a body does not mean that all share
in performing each task or making each decision.

Individual members of the human body carry out certain
functions without direct participation by other body
members. (1 Cor. 12:12-31)

Honoring one another, elders will allow the presiding
overseer and other assigned elders the initiative to make
decisions that will enable them to carry out their re-
spective responsibilities.

UNIT4 (a) 67

Consider the following examples of decisions that
individual elders may make without always consult-
ing with other elders.

Weekly announcements made to the congrega-
tion. Items posted on the information board.
Service Meeting assignments. (presiding over-

Organization of congregation files. General let-
ters of introduction and transfer of records when
publishers move. (secretary)

Magazine order changes. (service overseer)

Good communication and close cooperation are necessary
among the elders themselves as well as in their relation-
ship with the ministerial servants.

Be ready to offer helpful suggestions and to listen to
thoughtful recommendations.

Genuinely honoring one another sets a fine example and
serves as a good influence on the congregation.

It promotes peace and encourages all to work with greater
enthusiasm and happiness.

Discouragement will be diminished. (Prov. 24:10 )

When Elders' Meetings May Be Held

Meetings are held each year in conjunction with visits of
the circuit overseer.

Three months after each visit of the circuit overseer, a
meeting can be scheduled. (om p. 42)

Other meetings should be arranged at any time that
circumstances necessitate.

Keep additional meetings limited to their purposed objec-

If elders do not become bogged down with unnecessary
meetings, they will have more time for their family, for
field service activities, and for shepherding the congre-
gation. (Matt. 24:14; 1 Tim. 3:4; 1 Pet. 5:2)


'Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock "

How the Presiding Overseer
Can Prepare for Elders' Meetings

Romans 12:8 says, "He that presides, let him do it in
real earnest."

The presiding overseer compiles an agenda of matters that
need discussion by the whole body of elders.

He contacts the other elders individually beforehand to
determine what matters they feel need to be added to the
agenda and discussed.

If practical, in harmony with Proverbs 21:5, he gives a
copy of the agenda to each elder far enough in advance
of the meeting to allow him to give the points due
thought. (1 Cor. 14:40)

In some cases the elder who recommended an item for the
agenda may be asked to take the lead in presenting it for

Letting the brother know ahead of time will give him
opportunity to prepare a clear presentation of the facts.

Diligent preparation will keep the length of elders' meet-
ings to a minimum, allowing more time for other essen-

How You Can Prepare for Elders' Meetings

When you receive the agenda prepared by the presiding
overseer, you should give careful and prayerful thought
to each point itemized.

Listed below are some questions that each elder may
want to ponder in connection with major items on the

How did this situation come about?

What Scriptural principles should guide us in deciding
what to do?

What direction has been provided by the faithful and
discreet slave?

UNIT 4 (a) 69

There is need to do research in the Society's publica-
tions. (Where available, use the Watch Tower Publica-
tions Indexes. )

Is there more that I can do to deal effectively with this

In what way can the entire body of elders improve its
handling of this matter?

Should this suggestion be put into operation? Why?

What Matters Might Be Included
on the Agenda for Elders' Meetings

Spiritual matters should be of principal concern. (Phil.

Appropriate ideas can be obtained by thinking on the
shepherding counsel found in the letters to Timothy and
Titus and in such passages as Acts 20:17-35 and 1 Peter 5:

Time may be allowed on the agenda for matters of a
mechanical, nonspiritual nature also.

These should be discussed only when they involve prob-
lems that an individual elder, the building committee, or
the maintenance committee cannot care for on their own

Make Meaningful
Expressions During Your Elders' Meetings

The presiding overseer should set the pace of the discus-
sion by keeping the main points to the fore; keep to the

Conclude each matter before another is opened for discus-
sion so that the meeting does not bog down or ramble.

Make sure that either you or another elder takes notes as
to decisions made and who will carry them out.

70 "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock "

Applying the Scriptural principles embodied in the fol-
lowing will result in more productive elders' meetings:

Speak on the points under discussion only when you have
something meaningful to add. (Prov. 10:19)

There should be no wrath or debates evident in elders'
meetings. ( 1 Tim. 2:8 )

Speak up, use "freeness of speech." Much time can be
wasted if there are long pauses due to a hesitancy to speak.
(1 Tim. 3:13)

See the listing at the end of this unit. In it are some
items that you may wish to include on an agenda for
consideration by the elders in your congregation.

(For more information, see The Watchtower, October 1,
1988, pages 15-20, and August 1, 1975, pages 471-4.)

Presiding Overseer

The presiding overseer is appointed by the Society for an
indefinite period of time. He serves as chairman of the
body of elders. He should be a kindly, loyal man with
experience in handling congregation matters. He must
be orderly and diligent, not a procrastinator in caring for
responsibilities. ( 1 Tim. 3:2)

His duties include the following:

Serves as chairman of the body of elders at their meetings.

Receives congregation mail and passes it along to the
secretary for circulation and filing.

Signs most correspondence sent to the Society.

Compiles Scriptural and practical agendas outlining
points for discussion at regular elders' meetings through-
out the year. May suggest points for elders' meetings
dunng the Visit of the circuit overseer.

Seeks to distinguish between items that can be handled
by individual elders and those needing attention by the

UNIT 4 (a) 71

entire body of elders, so as to avoid unnecessarily
taking the time of the entire body.

Makes sure that there is appropriate follow-through on
decisions made by elders.

Modestly seeks and accepts suggestions from other

Arranges for monthly Service Meeting schedule, and
makes sure of appropriate rehearsals of demonstrations,
interviews, and so forth.

May ask other elders to assist.

Arranges for public talks.

Might be assisted by another .
ministerial servant, if needed.

Approves all announcements made to the congregation,
especially those of a judicial nature.

Takes the lead in caring for details in preparation for the
circuit overseer s Visit.

Serves as chairman of the service committee when consid-
ering regular or auxiliary pioneer applications, unassigned
territory applications, or similar matters as required by the

Calls a meeting of the body of elders when judicial matters
arise. (See Unit 5 (b), pages 108-10. )

Arranges for two elders to meet with each person desiring
to become a new publisher. The publisher conducting the
study is included in the meeting. (~88 11/15 p. 17)

Arranges for elders to consider questions with baptismal

Arranges for quarterly audit of congregation accounts.

Makes certain there is a written record of such and that
an appropriate announcement regarding the audit is
made to the congregation.

Authorizes payment of all normal operating expenses of
the congregation.

72 "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"

Recommendation for appointment of the presiding over-
seer is submitted in conjunction with the regular visit of
the circuit overseer.

If a temporary adjustment is made apart from the circuit
overseer's visit, the Society should be notified immediate-
ly by letter signed by the service committee on behalf of
the body of elders.

The Presiding Overseer Change of Address form ( S-29 )
should accompany the letter.

Congregation Secretary

Sees to it that correspondence received by the congrega-
tion and the body of elders from the Society and others
is attended to promptly and proper response is made
when necessary.

The secretary's duties include the following:

Maintains the vital congregation records in an orderly

Circulates among the elders all letters from the Society
and traveling overseers and then files them for reference.

Keeps records concerning Kingdom Hall ownership, le-
gal corporation, loans, insurance, deeds, and other docu-

Files records on disciplinary cases, including reports made
up by the judicial committees. (See Unit 5 (c), page 122. )

Keeps a diary of business items that elders or congregation
must handle in the future, such as utility bills and tax and
government items.

Sends orders to the branch office; sends reports promptly;
sends communications prepared by other brothers.

Keeps Congregation's Publisher Record cards; compiles
field service reports.

Gives report to Congregation Book Study conductors
as to who is irregular in field service.

UNIT 4 (a) 73

Sends Congregation's Publisher Record card to congre-
gation to which a publisher moves or initiates corre-
spondence if a publisher moves into his congregation.
(km 2/91 p. 7)

Secretary will personally care for these duties.

If necessary, an elder or a capable ministerial servant
may be assigned to assist in caring for some routine

Service Overseer

As evangelizer and teacher, the service overseer is keenly
interested in his fellow servants. He is one who loves the
field ministry and is capable and alert to train others. He
is respected in the congregation as one who takes the
lead in the field and who has demonstrated his effective-
ness in various aspects of the field ministry.

The service overseer's duties include the following:

Schedules regular visits to all Congregation Book Study
groups, so that once each month he visits a different
group. (In smaller congregations with perhaps only one
or two book studies, he may arrange to visit each one
twice during the year. )

Following a 45-minute book study, he will give a
15-minute service talk.

On that weekend he will work with the group in the
field ministry from house to house and help publishers
with their return visits and Bible studies.

Other weeks of the month are spent with the group
where he is assigned along with his family. (km 6/90
P 7 )

Takes the lead in arranging meetings for field service at
convenient times during weekdays; he is alert to organize
witnessing on holidays.

Shows genuine interest in Bible Study activity, making
sure that effective studies are being conducted and that
students are being directed to the organization.

74 "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock "

Takes keen interest in irregular and inactive publishers
living in the congregation territory and works along with
the body of elders in providing spiritual assistance toward
recovery. (km 4/82 p. 3)

Directly oversees tne work of ministerial servants assigned
to handle literature, magazines, and territory.

Congregation Service Committee

Comprises the presiding overseer, the secretary, and the
service overseer. (om p. 43)

The duties of the Congregation Service Committee in-
volve the following:

Signing correspondence regarding appointment or dele-
tion of elders, ministerial servants, and pioneers.

They process applications for auxiliary and regular pio-
neer work, for Bethel service, and for other special
service privileges.

If one member is absent, another elder may be asked to
substitute in order to expedite matters.

May be called on by the Society for other designated work
as needed.

One member of the service committee is included in the
meeting with each Bible student desirous of becoming an
unbaptized publisher. (~88 11/15 p. 17)

The Watchtower Study Conductor and
the Theocratic Ministry School Overseer

The Watchtower Study conductor and the Theocratic
Ministry School overseer conduct their respective meet-
ings in harmony with counsel from the organization as
outlined in Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry, Our
Kingdom Ministry
, other special instructions, and this

It is important that these brothers prepare diligently and
use effective teaching methods, since these meetings are
primary provisions of the faithful slave to give vital
instruction to the congregation.

UNIT4 (a) 75

The Watchtower Study conductor and the Theocratic Min-
istry School overseer should set an outstanding example as
zealous ministers of the good news, working regularly
with the publishers in the field service.

In the absence of either of these brothers, a qualified elder
may be asked to conduct the meeting.

Circuit Overseer's Visit

The schedule of the circuit overseer has been arranged
to be beneficial to the congregation. There may be a
need to adjust this schedule when several congregations
use the same Kingdom Hall or when other local circum-
stances would make an adjustment advisable.

Tuesday evening at the Kingdom Hall.

The Theocratic Ministry School will be 30 minutes in
length, followed by a Service Meeting of 30 minutes.

The circuit overseer will then present a 30-minute
closing service talk.

Thursday (or Friday) evening at the Kingdom Hall.

One combined Congregation Book Study.

A designated elder will conduct the study and en-
deavor to cover the assigned portion for that week
in 45 minutes.

This will be followed by "Continue in the Things That
You Learned," a 30-minute feature with audience par-
ticipation, conducted by the circuit overseer.

The circuit overseer will then give a concluding
30-minute service talk. (km 5/90 p. 2)

Sunday at the Kingdom Hall.

The circuit overseer will give the public talk, usually
45 minutes in length.

This will be followed by a 30-minute Watchtower Study,
without the reading of paragraphs.

Finally, the circuit overseer will present his concluding
remarks for 30 minutes.

76 "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock "

Elders should exhibit an enthusiastic spirit before and
during the circuit overseer's visit.

Elders should allow the circuit overseer's visit to infuse
them with renewed vigor to carry out their responsibilities
and should help stimulate the congregation to greater
activity and faithfulness.

Suggestions for
Agendas Used for Elders' Meetings

Overall spirit of the congregation.

Is love manifest by warmth among the brothers?

Is there a joyful spirit?

Are hospitality and friendliness being exhibited?

Do the friends get together for mutual encouragement
at times other than at meetings?

Is there freedom from class distinctions?

Do the teenagers and young adults feel accepted?

Do the elderly display cheerfulness because of receiving
kindly attention?

Are the elders helpful in cases of need?

Do the publishers show a readiness to help one another
in cases of illness or accident, or under other circum-

Are the brothers taking the truth seriously as a way of life?

Is there a healthy pioneer spirit?

Do the publishers show a spirit of willingness to work
together in field service?

Being well acquainted with the flock.

What individuals or families need encouragement?

Have there been any deaths in the families of publishers?

Who are the new ones, and how are they progressing?

UNIT4 (a) 77

Is due consideration being given to the sick, the handi-
capped, those with unbelieving mates, the single parents,
the widows and orphans, the youths?

Who is in the hospital, in a nursing home, sick in bed?

Is there need for more home visitation?

Congregation meetings.

How can we make more local and personal application?

What public talks will be most beneficial for the congrega-

How can we provide a variety of speakers?

Are presentations from the platform warm and encourag-

Do we use a variety of qualified publishers for presenta-

Do presentations show good balance and understand-
ing of the brothers' circumstances and difficulties?

Are the brothers mechanical in giving their answers?

Can the adolescents and young adults be helped to
participate more fully?

How can we assist those confined to their homes or to
nursing homes to have a share in the meetings?

Are there transportation needs?

Are more book study groups needed? Should they be
rearranged? Who should conduct?

Witnessing and teaching work in the field.

Are there practical arrangements for field service during
the week and on the weekends, in the evenings, on

Are elders balancing shepherding work with field service?

Are the elders setting a good example in the field minis-
try? (Heb. 13:7)

Are there arrangements for street witnessing and for work-
ing business territory?

78 "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock "

What help is being given to new ones?

Are timid ones receiving assistance with their presenta-
tions in the ministry?

Do publishers simply cover territory, or are they finding
interested ones and following through to help them?

Are Bible students attending meetings?

Auxiliary and regular pioneer activity.

How can we encourage more publishers to share?

Which pioneers can assist other publishers now?

What specific encouragement are we giving the pioneers?

What problems are the pioneers experiencing, and what
help is needed?

When have we last accompanied the pioneers in house-to-
house work and on their Bible studies?

How well are the people in the territory being reached?

Are the publishers resourceful, also taking advantage of
opportunities to witness informally?

Do the publishers and pioneers show personal interest in
the householders?

How thoroughly is the territory being covered?

Is territory coverage balanced?

Are there foreign-language groups that need attention?

Are diversified approaches being used in ethnic neigh-

Moral cleanness.

What is the level of morality, virtuous conduct, in the

Are there matters about which a selected judicial commit-
tee needs to inform the whole body of elders for the
protection of the congregation?

Of course, confidential matters should be kept un-
disclosed, confidential.

UNIT4 (a) 79

What can elders do to promote sound adherence to good
ethics, morals?

Are there trends toward worldliness?

What can be done to counter such trends or prevent
their development?

Aiding other males to qualify for service responsibilities.

What brothers display a positive spirit and willingness to
be used?

Who need help, and how can we give it?

How can we encourage the ministerial servants to care for
more responsibilities?

Who needs additional training?

Articles in The Watchtower or other publications.

When special needs arise, the body of elders can review
articles that are appropriate, such as those dealing with
mercy, reproof, government restrictions, child abuse, wife
beating, mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse, apostasy,
working together in field service, and cooperating togeth-
er as a congregation.

Matters of a less spiritual nature. ( To be considered only
when there is a problem that cannot be handled by an
elder or by the committee already assigned the responsi-

Better care and protection of Kingdom Hall property.

Prompt completion of Kingdom Hall construction or

Better attention to certain congregation records. Caring
for certain financial obligations.

When elders work together harmoniously as a body,
adhering closely to Bible principles and theocratic coun-
sel, the congregation enjoys great benefits and Jehovah's
name is honored.

80 "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock "