Elders and Ministers: Working and Praying Together
Earlier this year, the Barna Group published a major report on the status of ministers.1 The report is full of great information, challenging insights and valuable data to help congregational leadership teams support and empower their ministers. One section focused on elder-minister relationships.
Most ministers reported positive perceptions of the relationship between themselves and elder teams. However, several other indicators suggest some critical weaknesses. Namely, only 44 percent of those surveyed noted the relationship between elders and ministers is a “powerful” one, and only 34 percent said that they engage in “frequent prayer together.”
If only one in three ministers can say they pray regularly with elders, and only four in 10 have solid relationships with their elders, it is no small wonder many churches are in decline or are struggling with mission and the future.
The Barna report cites a research project in Scotland highlighting this point. There, researchers discovered that churches whose members pray missionally and make prayer an integral part of their mission are more likely to be growing churches. Indeed, the leading difference in this particular survey between growing churches and those that are flat or declining is praying specifically “for the challenges of living faithfully in a post-Christian culture.”2
Additionally, larger churches (250 members or more) are twice as likely as smaller churches to have a strong partnership between elders and ministers. Likewise, ministers are much less likely to burn out in contexts in which ministers and elders are working well together, ministers are truly appreciated by elders and there is clear decision-making authority
All of these factors suggest how critical it is for ministers and elders to work together and to spend a great deal of time in prayer. What steps might you take in your congregation to foster strong and prayerful relationships among your elders and ministers?
 The State of Pastors: How Today’s Faith Leaders are Navigating Life and Leadership in an Age of Complexity. Barna, 2017.
 Ibid., 70.