Thursday, April 21, 2011

Identifying elders

9 Marks posted a guest article on their Church Matters blog that explores what local churches should be looking for in a potential elder, How do I identify future pastors/elders in the congregation? I liked the premise of finding elders in your congregation instead of searching for them outside of the local church. Here are his three bullet points (he fleshes them out in the post)
1)Find men who function as a pastor without the title or recognition.

2) Find men who assume the pastoral burden, although it has not yet been placed on them.

3)Find men who shepherd their family the way a pastor should shepherd God’s people.
I think that makes a ton of sense. The way the Bible seems to be describing the process of recognizing elders is to recognize as elders those men that are already functioning and demonstrating the characteristics of being an elder. Instead of hiring someone to be an elder and then hoping they act that way because we have granted them the title, we should recognize those men who are already acting that way!

Consider how most traditional churches find a new pastor, something that 9 Marks writes about a lot (there are several recent articles on pastor search committees). A man announces he is leaving his post as pastor, probably with little warning. The local church forms a pastor search committee and they meet to decide what they are looking for in a candidate. The committee posts advertisements for the job opening and accepts resumes. After winnowing through the resumes they invite men in for interviews and perhaps even to deliver a sermon or two so they can judge his performance in the pulpit. Once they have found their guy based on a resume, a couple of interviews and some sample preaching, a job offer is extended and if the pay and benefits are acceptable, a new elder joins the church from the outside. Now he has to get to know people but not too closely because a pastor needs to maintain some distance from "his flock".

What if more churches followed the path Brian Croft outlines, not just for the "regular" elders in the church but for all of the pastor/elders? I think we would see a very different sort of church leadership, one based on leaders recognized because of a demonstrated life as opposed to men hired for a job based on resumes, interviews and performances.

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