© 2018 Grace Crossing 

ELDER confirmation

team

Each year Grace Crossing enters a season when we ask our Faith Family to pray for men from within our church to serve as Elders. Our current Elder Team is made up of these men: Joe McCalman, David Hume, Jason Klamm, Jud Watkins and Pastor Kevin Cooper. Per our church constitution, one of these men will roll off the team this year, and we will seek to replace this man with one or more men who meet the qualifications of Elders as laid out in the New Testament. More information about Elder leadership can be found below, and information is available on our resource table under the monitor in the hallway. Elder Submission Forms are available for any men that feel that God may be leading them to submit themselves for Elder review. If you'd like an hard copy or electronic copy of the Elder Submission Form, you can email Pastor Kevin at KCooper@gracecrossing.life. or Shane Huff (Team Leader) at shuff@mmcmaterials.com 

 

Why Elders?

Elders are the male leaders of the church who are synonymously called pastors, bishops, and overseers throughout the New Testament (Acts 20:28; Ephesian 4:11; 1 Peter 5:2).  The Elders are men chosen for their ministry according to clear Biblical requirements after a sufficient season of testing in the church (1 Timothy 2:11-3:7; Titus 1:5-9).  They serve directly under Jesus, the Head of the church.  Like Christ, their leadership is best understood throughout the imagery of a shepherd.  It cannot be understated that the Church and the local church are under the authority of Jesus, first and foremost (Matthew 28:18).

 

Elder Leadership

Essential characteristic of a New Testament Elder:

  • Pastoral Leadership (Acts 20:28)
    • Being an Elder is different from being a "Board Member".  Grace Crossing Elders are to be servant leaders who shepherd the flock like Jesus did.  Elders are to primarily be leaders and servants of the Church, not corporate executives, CEOs or advisors to a pastor.
    • The flock is both the individual church member and the church as a whole.
    • As shepherds of the church, Elders are to:
      • Protect the church from false teachers & teachings
        • They need to be Biblically knowledgeable 
        • They need to be doctrinally sound
        • They need to be able to judge doctrinal issues
      • Feed the church
        • Be able and willing to teach (1 Timothy 3:2)
        • Teach the "whole purpose of God" (Acts 20:27)
      • Lead the church
        • Provide oversight and direction to the flock
        • provide the hard work and sacrifice when called upon, not viewing eldership as a status or board position
      • Help meet the practical needs of the church
        • Care for the church through comforting, strengthening, praying and counseling
  • Shared/Team Leadership:  Jesus did not appoint one man to lead His church.  He personally appointed and trained twelve men.  We see this modeled for us in the New Testament church.  Jesus gave the church a plurality of leadership.  Elders must understand:
    • Elders are a part of a unified group, directed by love in a shared leadership structure - a plurality.
    • The elders operate as a "council of equals" where they act jointly as a council and share equal authority and responsibility for the leadership of the church.
    • However, recognizing that not all elders are equal in their giftedness, Biblical knowledge, leadership ability and calling, experience or dedication, there will naturally develop a first among equals or a leader among leaders.
    • The principal of first among equals is observed first in our Lord's dealings with the twelve apostles.  Jesus chose and empowered all of them to preach and heal, but He singles out three for special attention - Peter, James and John.  Among the three, as well as among the Twelve, Peter stood out as the most prominent.  Peter possessed no legal or official rank or title above the other eleven.  They were not his subordinates...He was simply first among his equals, by our Lord's approval.
  • Qualified Leadership:  Three broad categories of moral and spiritual qualifications based on 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.
    • Moral and Spiritual Character of the man
      • Must be "above reproach"
      • Must be a man of integrity, self-control and spiritual maturity
      • Must be spiritually devout, righteous, a lover of good, hospitable, and morally above reproach before the non-Christian community
      • Must be gentle, stable, sound-minded and uncontentious
      • Must NOT have a dictatorial spirit or be quick-tempered, pugnacious, or self-willed
      • Must NOT be a new Christian
    • Abilities of the man to perform the task
      • Must be able to manage his family household well
        • Managing the local church is more like managing a family than managing a business.  Being a successful businessman, public official, or office manager does not necessarily make a good elder.
        • Must be a model for others to follow
        • Must be able to teach and exhort the congregation in sound doctrine and defend the truth from false teachers
      • Spirit-Led and Spirit-Given Motivation for the Task (Acts 20:28)
        • The Holy Spirit alone calls a man to the office of elder.
        • Apart from the Holy Spirit's call, an elder will be an unhappy, impatient, guilty, fearful and ineffective leader and servant.
  • Servant Leadership
    • Must be a servant leader willing to serve the Grace Crossing congregation.
    • Must be willing to sacrifice their time, energy, and resources for the good of others and the Kingdom
    • Must be willing to forego a measure of career achievement and/or private leisurely lifestyle
    • Must clothe themselves in humility toward one another
    • Among the pastor and elder council, he must be able to patiently build consensus, compromise, persuade, listen, handle disagreement, forgive, receive rebuke and correction, confess sin, and appreciate the wisdom and perspective of others - even those with whom they disagree
    • Eldership is to never be viewed as a status or board position, but rather as demanding servant leadership

 

Essential Qualifications of a New Testament Elder (1 Timothy 3:1-7):

  • Relation to God
    • A man; he recognizes his place UNDER the authority of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
    • Above reproach, without any character defect
    • Able to teach; effective Bible communicator, Disciple-Maker
    • Not a new convert; a maturing Christian man
  • Relation to Family
    • Husband of one wife; a 'one woman man'; is married and in a healthy, God honoring relationship that is a picture of Christ and the Church.
    • Submissive children; he is seeking to parent his children in such a way that they would know Christ; remains involved in the lives of adult children in a healthy way.
    • Manages family well
  • Relation to Self
    • Sober-minded; mentally and emotionally stable
    • Self-controlled; disciplined life of sound decision-making
    • Not a drunkard; without addiction of any kind
    • Not a lover of money; financially content and upright; he understands that money is a tool to use, not a master to be served.  Is faithful in consistent giving to the mission of Grace Crossing.
  • Relation to Others
    • Respectable; worth following and imitating
    • Hospitable; will work to make Grace Crossing a place welcoming to people of all races and socio-economic backgrounds
    • Not violent; even-tempered
    • Gentle; he is kind, gracious and loving
    • Not quarrelsome; peaceable, willing to work to resolve conflict, but he is willing to confront others with a loving spirit
    • Well thought of by outsiders; respected by non-Christians.  He is thoughtful about what he says in person, in his workplace, and how he represents himself on social media networks

 

Elder Responsibilities

  • Praying and studying Scripture (Acts 6:4)
  • Leading the Church (1 Timothy 5:1-7)
  • Managing the Church (1 Timothy 3:4-5)
  • Caring for people in the Church (1 Peter 5:2-5)
  • Giving account to God for the Church (Hebrews 13:17)
  • Living exemplary lives (Hebrews 13:17)
  • Rightly using the authority God has given them (Acts 20:18)
  • Teaching the Bible correctly (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 32)
  • Preaching (1 Timothy 5:17)
    • Praying for the sick (James 5:13-17)
    • Teaching sound doctrine and refuting false teachings (Titus 1:9)
  • Working hard (1 Thessalonians 5:12)
  • Rightly using money and power (1 Peter 5:1-3)
  • Protecting the church from false teachers (Acts 20:17-31)
  • Disciplining unrepentant Christians (Matthew 18:15-17)
  • Obeying the secular laws as the legal ruling body of a corporation (Romans 13:1-7)
  • Developing other leaders and teachers (Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 2:1-2)

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to be above reproach/blameless?

The dictionary defines "reproach" as shame or disgrace or that which brings rebuke or censure upon a person. The Bible speaks of being "above reproach" or "blameless" as one of the distinctive marks of those who aspire to the office of elder within the church (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6-7). As such, their work for the church, as well as their interactions with others, are to be of such moral quality that they do not bring shame or in any way disgrace the body of Christ or the name of Jesus. This holds true not only within the church, but outside it as well.

The qualifications for the elder, sometimes called "overseer," are outlined by the apostle Paul. He wrote: "Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach" (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6-7). The word "must" is emphasizing that this particular quality of being "above reproach" is an unconditional prerequisite for a leadership role in the church.

Above reproach, however, does not mean without sin. No Christian lives an entirely sinless life, nor will we until we reach the glorified state in heaven. Above reproach means that the overseer's life is free from sinful habits or behaviors that would impede his setting the highest Christian standard and model for the church to emulate (Hebrews 13:7; 1 Peter 5:3). Similarly, the overseer must not give cause for those outside the church to impugn its reputation. Being above reproach means that no one can bring a charge or accusation against him (Acts 25:7; 1 Peter 3:16).

In essence, the church's overseers must be men whose character is unimpeachable, who are esteemed highly within their community. Such men are known for their wholesome life and untarnished integrity. Elders are to be men of good character and reputation. Though Paul, in his letters to Timothy and Titus, is addressing the distinguishing marks of those who desire to be church leaders, it certainly does not diminish the need for all Christians to aspire to the same qualities. Being above reproach should be an ongoing aim of all believers (Colossians 3:7-10).


Is an Elder required to be married?

The issue is not the elder's marital status, but his moral and sexual purity. This qualification heads the lists, because it is in this area that leaders are most prone to fail. Some take the qualification for elders "An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife," in 1 Timothy 3:2 as meaning that for a man to be an elder, he must be married. That is not the meaning of "husband of one wife." In the Greek, the phrase "husband of one wife" literally reads "one-woman man." For a man to be considered for a position of church leadership, and he is married, he must be committed to his wife. This qualification is speaking of fidelity in marriage and sexual purity. It is not a requirement of marriage. If it were, a man would have to be married and also have children, because 1 Timothy 3:4 states he must "keep his children under control with all dignity." We should understand this qualification as: If a man is married, he must be faithful to his wife. If a man has children, he must manage them well.

Some think this requirement excludes single men from church leadership. But if that were Paul's intent, he would have disqualified himself (1 Cor. 7:8). A "one-woman man" is one totally devoted to his wife, maintaining singular devotion, affection and sexual purity in both thought and deed. To violate this is to forfeit blamelessness and no longer be "above reproach" (Titus 1:6,7). Being single is praised by the Apostle Paul as enabling more faithful service to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). Why would Paul restrict men from church leadership positions when he believes "...an unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs - how he can please the Lord" (1 Corinthians 7:32)? In the first nine verses of this chapter, Paul establishes that both marriage and singleness are good and right before the Lord. An elder may be either married or single, as long as he meets the qualifications of godliness outlined in 1 Timothy and Titus.


What is the difference between an Elder and a Deacon?

When you compare the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 (elders/overseers, vv. 1-7; deacons, vv. 8-13), there doesn't seem to be much difference. This, quite simply, is because the qualifications speak more to the issue of character than they do of role.

To understand the difference in role, we would do better to look at what the actual titles are meant to convey. First, elders are overseers. Paul makes this clear in Acts 20 when he gathers together the elders of the church of Ephesus (v. 17) and says to them that the Holy Spirit has made them overseers to shepherd the church of God (v. 28). Elders, then, are supposed to provide the kind of oversight that a shepherd provides for his flock. They are to lovingly lead and direct the congregation in terms of both doctrine and a vision for the ministry; they are to come alongside and encourage or rebuke where necessary to get individual sheep back on course.

Deacons, on the other hand, are called to serve. The original Greek word, diakonos (dee- a-con-os), in 1 Timothy 3 actually means "servant." It is translated at such throughout the New Testament (in Matthew 22:13 ("servants"), Colossians 4:7 ("servant"), and Romans 15:8 ("servant"). A deacon is a servant; he is one who has been called to serve. Practically speaking, this means putting hands to the work of the ministry. Their primary role is one of service.

To summarize, then, elders are primarily responsible for the spiritual oversight of the church whereas deacons are primarily responsible for attending to the physical matters of the church (service).