A biblical church polity is essential for a healthy church. After all, if you do not have spiritually qualified leadership, it is impossible to have a spiritual church. Jesus soundly rebuked the religious leaders of His day because of their hypocrisy.
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.
In this series of articles I do not intend to spend time defending God’s ordained pattern of church leadership. The New Testament is quite clear that churches must have a plurality of elders to function as God has designed. It is equally clear that there is a process of selecting qualified men for this purpose. These articles will be focused on the specific qualifications that a man must meet and the responsibilities he must fulfill in order to function in this role.
When we talk about elder qualifications, it is appropriate for us to consider Titus 1:6-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7. But it is also important to recognize that these verses do not include all the responsibilities that are encompassed in being an elder. It is critical to understand the character qualifications and the responsibilities. It is possible for a man to meet the qualifications of Titus and 1 Timothy and not truly be qualified to be an elder.
Establishing an elder body and/or adding elders is very serious business in the life of the church. Carelessness in this arena can have long-term implications for both the leadership and the church body. Keep in mind, it is often easier to add a man as an elder than to remove him. Churches must have a well-developed process for both training men for eldership and confirming that they are biblically qualified for the role.
In the life of the church we are always pursuing unity (Philippians 2:2). Absolute unity is often elusive due to the fact that there are often unbelievers in the church, and there are believers who are not walking with the Lord at any given point of time. But a lack of unity among the elders is deadly. The elders must demonstrate to the congregation what biblical unity looks like. On many occasions the apostle Paul encouraged his fellow believers to follow his pattern of life. Elders should be able to say the same thing.
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1