Friday, August 17, 2012

Church Governance (11)

The Letter to Timothy lists the qualifications of an elder. The standard is high, but the reason is different from what we often think.

The common view is that elders must be of good character, because they control the church. Paul’s words are used as a checklist for deciding who is good enough to be given so much power. It is assumed that elders need to be of good character, because they have power and authority.

The opposite is true. Elders have no power and authority over the church. They need to be of good character, so that that younger Christians will freely submit to their oversight and welcome their advice on how to hear and follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Unless they have good character, people will not submit to elders them, no matter how long they have been Christians.

If apostles need to appoint elders, because they are moving on to something new, they should not look for people who tick the boxes on the character list. They should look for Christians that people in the church love, trust and submit to, because they are kind and wise, and authenticate what they are already doing by acknowledging that they are already acting as elders.

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