Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Elders must know and be known by those they are supposed to lead

There are several good posts on the topic of elders in the church that have come out today. The first one came from Alan Knox, The dangers of “pastoring” hundreds or thousands. Alan makes the point that I have also written about ( see Lead By A Stranger and Home Grown Elders) that the men we are to follow as leaders must be men we know and are known by. Someone trying to "shepherd" someone that they barely know and that knows them primarily by listening to them "preach" is bound to fail, no matter how much education they have or how smooth they are at delivering sermons.

Then Jamal Jivanjee put up a post, Please Pray For Our Elders… , and he makes some great points. Jamal writes that he is often asked to pray for elders of local churches but what he is being asked to pray for makes him wonder if these guys are elders in the first place....

I want these precious saints to realize that if someone is not ‘wise in the faith’, they are NOT an elder even if they do carry the job description or title of ‘Elder / Pastor’. Simply realizing this could free many from being held hostage to a system or organization led by a set of ‘unwise’ people who carry the title of being ‘wise’. After all, the title of ‘elder’ does not make a person ‘wise’ in the faith.

The problem is not really with these unwise ‘Elders’, rather the problem is with the people who think the term ‘elder’ refers to some type of ‘office’ that carries a hierarchical weight that is separate from the person itself. This is foreign to the New Testament. It is absurd to look to someone whom we already know is not ‘wise’ in the faith and refer to them with a term that means ‘one who is wise in the faith.’
Now I don't think Jamal is suggesting we shouldn't pray for our elders. I do agree though with what he is saying, namely that someone is not an elder because of their title or ordination or education. I have met more than a few "pastors" and "elders" who lacked even the most rudimentary characteristic of being an elder and I have met even more men who show all the signs of being elders but never have and likely never will be given "elder" as a title. Men are elders based on who they already are and what they are already doing rather than being appointed as elders based on some extra-biblical qualifications and then hoping they "grow into" those characteristics.

Then Alan posted another entry in reponse to Jamal, But he has an MDiv and ordination papers… As Alan points out...

Today, churches tend to select people as leaders (elders, pastors, bishops, whatever titles they choose) based on education or speaking ability. Usually, the individuals are not actually known by the group of believers who select them (and hire them to do a certain job). So, in fact, people are called “elder” or “pastor” (or whatever) with little to no knowledge of whether the person is actually mature in the faith or actually takes care of people.
That is so true. The church is not the elders but the elders in the church pay a crucial role, or at least they should. For elders to lead by example and to shepherd others they must know and be known by those who are following them. That is the only way for those elders to carry out their task.

Give these posts a read, I think you will find them profitble.

1 comment:

Mark A said...

Great post… wow, this one is going to take a couple more days to process !