I write as one who has preached among the Churches of Christ (non-instrument) for 65 years. Rhoderick D. Ice
Is A Work In
The church must be forever "restoring and being restored." The church of the New Testament set an example we try to follow.
What does the Bible say about this? The Bible is our Instruction Manual about what God wants us to do. We ask: "What did God say?" But we must read with care. We may "read into" the Bible things not there and miss the point. Compare 2 Cor. 3:14,17. "But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.... Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim 1:7 (NKJV)
"For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you-- " Titus 1:5 (NKJV)
To Set In order. Some things required time to complete. To appoint church elders. These were spiritual leaders in the local congregation, and there were always more than one. Compare 1 Tim. 3:1-7. Note that the church at
had church elders
in less than three years time (Acts 20:17). In every city. Each congregation
had its own church elders and church deacons.
(R.D.Ice BSNT) Ephesus
Church Elders are:
1. "Clerks watching the store while the Boss is away."
Someone has to keep things running smoothly.
Compare the Parable of Pounds. "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business till I come.'" Luke 19:13 (NKJV)
2. "Older brothers watching out for the younger children."
They need protection and guidance. "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you." Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV)
3. "Not dictators but facilitators." 1 Peter 5:2-4. "nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;" (NKJV)
4. "Coaches urging and directing the team on to victory."
Compare Hebrews 12:1 where Paul uses the Olympic Games as a teaching example. "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us," (NKJV)
The Top Ten Questions for Potential Elders (adapted from an article in the Christian Standard.)
A Church Leader must be one who LOVES THE LORD! If he does not - nothing else would matter.
There has been a Tradition that said no one is "perfect enough" to be a Church Leader. But what happens then is that someone unqualified takes the control, often as a "church boss" in the worst sense. What a person is NOW is most important. Compare 1 Cor. 6:11. The church in the New Testament appointed elders and deacons in a short time. Being "full of the Holy Spirit" and of "common sense wisdom" and being respected in the local community is all vitally important. Read Acts 6:1-6.
"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the
which He purchased
with His own blood." Acts 20:26-28
"Now it's up to you overseers.
Be on your toes—both for yourselves
and your congregation of sheep.
The Holy Spirit has put you in charge
of these people—God's people they are—
to guard and protect them.
God Himself thought they were worth dying for.
Not bossily telling others what to do,
but tenderly showing them the way.
When God, who is the best Shepherd of all,
comes out in the open with His rule
He'll see that you've done it right
and commend you lavishly.
The Jewish Synagogue as model.
The synagogue was developed while
held captive in . Since they no longer had access to the Babylon , some form was needed for Bible study
and worship. This same form provided the
pattern for the church as they spread across the first century world. Church leaders (also called elders, bishops,
pastors) were to take the lead in spiritual matters as a board of
directors. Church helpers (also called
deacons, servants) were needed to administer to the physical needs of the
congregation. In the Christian Family,
the whole person (body, soul, spirit) was encouraged to grow and to develop
into a Christ-like maturity. Paul speaks
of church organization and body-life in Ephesians, 1 Timothy and Titus. Temple
And He filled earth with His gifts.
He handed out gifts of apostle,
prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher
to train Christians in skilled servant work,
working within Christ's body, the church,
until we're all moving
rhythmically and easily with each other
efficient and graceful
in response to God's Son,
fully mature adults, fully developed
within and without,
fully alive like Christ.
No prolonged infancies among us, please.
We'll not tolerate babes in the woods,
small children who are
an easy mark for impostors.
God wants us to grow up,
to know the whole truth and
tell it in love—like Christ in everything.
We take our lead from Christ,
who is the source of everything we do.
He keeps us in step with each other.
His very breath and blood
flow through us, nourishing us
so that we will grow up healthy
in God, robust in love.
1 Tim. 3:1-7
If anyone wants to provide leadership, good!
But there are preconditions:
A leader must be well-thought-of,
committed to his wife,
cool and collected,
accessible, and hospitable.
He must know what he's talking about,
not be overfond of wine,
not pushy but gentle,
not thin-skinned and touchy,
He must handle his own affairs well,
attentive to his own children
and having their respect.
For if someone is unable to
handle his own affairs,
how can he take care of God's church?
He must not be a new believer,
lest the position go to his head
and the Devil trip him up.
Outsiders must think well of him,
or else the Devil will figure out a way
to lure him into his trap.
1. Is this man committed to his wife and family? One who dearly loves his wife and family will be able to dearly love God's People. If he is mean and abusive to his wife and family - WATCH OUT!
2. Has this man shown wisdom in decision-making? Does he have "common sense wisdom"? Does he have a sense of psychology and how things work.
3. Has this man shown the ability to keep his temper in check? Everyone has a 'temper' but we learn to control it. Some are more controlled than others. The man who will make a good elder will have a tough skin, a tender heart, a short memory, and a long fuse.
4. Is this man willing to be inconvenienced for others? Will he go the "second mile"?
5. Is this man capable of teaching Scripture to others? You are not simply looking for a man who knows how to say something, but rather a man who has something to say - something from God.
6. Has this man established wise personal habits? If his life is disorganized confusion - WATCH OUT!
7. Does this man have a strong sense of stewardship? The "one talent man" had no sense of stewardship. He was fearful but not adventurist in a good sense.
8. Does this man have a track record of discipling leadership? You're looking for a man who's got a track record of leading people closer to Jesus.
9. Has this man been a Christian long enough to maintain humility? Paul says he must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited. The chief occupational hazard of spiritual leadership is pride, and too much visibility too soon in a man's Christian pilgrimage can inflate his ego.
10. Is this man respected in the community? The first quality listed is "above reproach," literally meaning "not able to be held." In other words, if charges were leveled against this man, he wouldn't even be held for questioning because his reputation is so solid. He's Teflon, not Velcro. His integrity is such that accusations just won't stick. But this only comes with time. However some reach it sooner because they are gifted.
A Final Word of Challenge
“The local church is the hope of the world, and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders.” If it’s true that everything rises and falls with leadership, then as your congregation selects its elders, you’ll want to take a close look again at this picture of a spiritual leader in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. The work of the church is too critical, the stakes are too high, the consequences are too eternal for a congregation to choose its leaders hastily (1 Timothy 5:22). Choose poorly, and the church will miss opportunities to build the kingdom.
But if leaders are chosen wisely, the church will flourish. And when the church flourishes, the gospel is preached, the lost are found, souls are saved, sin is confronted, children are taught, marriages are mended, addictions are broken, the hungry are fed, the grieving are comforted, the lonely are embraced, the wounded are healed, the community is transformed, and the nations are reached with the good news of Christ.
When the leaders are at their best, the church will be at its best, and when the church is at its best, it is breathtaking to behold. Look out world!
A final reminder. Remember: this picture Paul provides in 1 Timothy 3 is a sketch, not a snapshot. As you search for leaders, you’re looking for a great resemblance, but you may not find an exact likeness.
Keep in mind that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Look for excellence in character, but apply these standards with grace. You can (and should) find men who have learned to sin less, but you will never find men who are SINLESS. (1 John 1:6-10; 2:1-3)
At the end of the day, the good news is this: everything rises and falls with One Leader – JESUS - and while we may fail, He never does.