"Through the offices of the church (minister of Word and sacrament, elders, deacons, and professors of theology), Christ is represented to the community of faith." That's how the "Faithful Consistories" document begins its summary of the mission of the church.

Elders attend to sound teaching and discipline within the church, and to the spiritual well-being of the congregation, ensuring that members are nurtured through Scripture, worship, the sacraments, and prayer.

Far from being just a placeholder in the congregation's structure, an elder has specific ministry responsibilities that help provide for and protect the church.

The office of the elder is one of servanthood, representing Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit. In the local church, or outreach ministries elders are chosen members who show spiritual discernment, lead exemplary lives, have charitable spirits, and embody wisdom grounded in God's Word.

Elders, together with the installed minister/s serving under a call, have supervision of the church entrusted to them. They are set apart for a ministry of watchful and responsible care for all matters relating to the welfare and good order of the church. They are to study God's Word, oversee the household of faith, encourage spiritual growth, maintain loving discipline, and provide for the proclamation of the gospel and the celebration of the sacraments.