Yesterday was a good day for our church family talking about humility, both in leadership and in followership. I mentioned that a paper with more details would be available regarding some of the specifics of our elder team process and expectations, so here it is.
If you missed it, the men we introduced for the approval phase of the elder process are Tim Campbell, Geoffrey Wilcoxson, Eloy Garza, and John Kronwald (in addition to myself and Matthew Braselton as existing elders). We will have a month for the congregation to notify us of any biblical reasons why any of these men should not serve as elders, and then they will be installed formally on September 12.
If you are interested in other resources related to church leadership and church government, here are a few books that I have found helpful:
- Elders and Leaders, by Gene Getz
- On Church Leadership, by Mark Driscoll
- The Unity Factor, by Larry Osborne
- Spiritual Leadership, by J. Oswald Sanders
- Confessions of a Reformission Rev., by Mark Driscoll
Also, I’ve posted some answers to common questions that we’ve heard below. If you have others, please ask through the comments section, and I’ll be sure to reply.
Are there a particular number of elders that a church should have?
The Bible teaches that a local church should have a plurality of elders, but does not give a specific number. Each church must use wisdom in determining how many elders are necessary to effectively lead the church. There is no specific number that the elder team aspires to have. Finally, it is important to remember that, in addition to the elders, Community Group and Ministry Team leaders play a significant role in the shepherding of the body.
Is it Biblical for staff pastors to serve on the elder board?
The Bible neither prohibits nor mandates that paid pastors serve as governing elders in a local church. The Bible does allow financial support for those serving as elders (1 Timothy 5:17-18; 1 Corinthians 9:11). Second Mile has both staff and non-staff elders. While the concept of staff pastors serving as elders is unfamiliar to some, it is not prohibited by Scripture.
What are the age requirements for being an elder?
The New Testament does not directly address the age issue, even in the list of qualifications. Since the term “elder” (presbuteros) is sometimes translated “older” (1 Timothy 5:1; Titus 2:2), some conclude that the very title “elder” implies that only “an older man” should be appointed to this position. However, we cannot derive the same guideline from the meaning of the word “overseer” (episkopos), which was used interchangeably with the title “elder.” It does seem generally wise to appoint spiritual leaders who have learned from years of experience, making them wise and discerning. On the other hand, “age alone” does not guarantee maturity. Neither does it mean that younger men cannot occupy strategic leadership positions. A wonderful biblical example is Timothy, who was approximately twenty years of age when Paul selected him to accompany him on his second missionary journey. In most cultures, this is considered very young, especially in the Greco-Roman world. In fact, Timothy was still considered young in his early thirties when Paul left him in Ephesus to select and appoint elders. This is why Paul instructed him, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Timothy demonstrated that it is possible to be a mature leader at a very early age.
How are the elders held accountable?
The elders are accountable first to God and his word and then to one another. They pray with and for each other, share their burdens with one another, and strive to model healthy, Christ-centered relationships with one another.