The Business of the Church (Part 1)
Posted May 23 | Dr. Blair Waddell
Our church strives to do it’s best to honor the principles found in the New Testament. And one of those principles is that the church should be led by a plurality of elders. We believe this because it is found in the scriptures. The concept of eldership is always used in the plural whenever a New Testament church is addressed. For example Paul instructs Titus to ‘appoint elders in every town as I directed you.’ Titus 1:5 (ESV). That would be multiple elders (plural) in each city (singular). Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in every church in Acts 14:23 ‘And when they had appointed elders [plural] for them in every church [singular though multiple churches are involved], with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.’ (ESV). Exceptions to this are when the Apostles write regarding a particular elder or describing the office. But when addressing the individual churches it’s always in the plural. The text would imply that each church was served by a plurality of elders. Having a plurality of elders ensures that control of the congregation is not in one particular person’s hands. There is accountability and the ability to share the burdens of the pastorate. The focus is on Christ as the head of the church rather than a single pastor where it would be easy to slip into idolatry. Therefore, we have an elder board at Providence that seeks to serve the church of Christ together.
The function of an elder is to ‘shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight’ 1 Peter 5:2 (ESV). In other words, churches are to be accountable to the leadership of their own individual elders. Elders are supposed to guide the membership by providing spiritual oversight. This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. Several key passages describe this function such as 1 Timothy 3:1-8; 5:17-22; 2 Timothy 2:24-25; Titus 1:5-9; and 1 Peter 5:1-4. While admitting that no elder can possibly meet every qualification 100% of the time, each is committed to striving for the standard of eldership and agree to be held accountable by the other elders (1 Timothy 5:19). Elders must rise to meet the qualifications of these passages in order to serve the church.
It has been my pleasure to serve alongside my fellow elders at Providence Baptist Church. Each of them takes their responsibility seriously. They love you and desire to serve the congregation. You can be proud of your elders. I hope you will continue to pray for them daily.
It is also my pleasure to propose Brian Milby as a candidate to the elder body. Brian has already proven himself as a capable leader within the church (1 Timothy 5:22). As your pastor, I have found that I truly can count on him. I think you have witnessed the same. He is a man full of the Holy Spirit and love for the bride of Christ. He meets all of the qualifications described above. Each of us as elders hopes that you, the congregation will approve our nomination of Brian at the upcoming business meeting on June 4.
That being said, nominating Brian for affirmation by the church is only one of several items to be voted upon at the upcoming meeting. This all the more highlights the need to be faithful to church membership. In other words, your vote, as led by the Holy Spirit, counts toward our overall investment in the Kingdom of God. In the days ahead I will be writing about more matters that the church will vote upon and hear at this meeting. But remember; only church members who have submitted themselves to the accountability of the body are permitted to vote. Just as the elders take their office seriously, I also hope you will take your membership seriously in the days ahead.