Whether teaching elders, ruling elders, or deacons, the new Form of Government lists common characteristics for those called to ordered ministry. However, they also have unique, particular functions. As a practical illustration, the similarities and differences between ruling and teaching elders is like going to Home Depot in search of a rake. The first question the orange-vested person assisting you would probably ask is, "Garden rake or leaf rake?" Both are rakes, but each has a particular design because of its particular function. A leaf rake will do little good in preparing a garden for planting, and a garden rake is not much help in gathering leaves. In the same way, a teaching elder may be just as ineffective in taking on the tasks more properly assigned to a ruling elder, and vice versa.
This Leader Reader looks at the role of the teaching elder, particularly in light of the new language and other changes in the new Form of Government.