SELECTING LEADERS FOR THE CHURCH: PRESUPPOSITIONS AND PROCEDURE
A. Ultimately, Jesus Christ leads the church
Col. 1:18; 1 Pet. 5:4; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 2:25
B. He leads his church by his Word and Spirit (by the agency of the Holy Spirit working through the instrumentality of his Word)
C. He leads his church through special officers (by the media of ministers, elders, and deacons)
D. He is the One who makes these officers; we human beings do not make them.
Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11
This has certain implications:
- A congregation can set no quota or arbitrary number of elders and deacons
- A congregation must take great care in selecting her officersShe must undergird this whole process with ongoing dependence on the Lord—praying and listening to him speaking in Scripture
She may have this great confidence—the Lord will supply his church with the officers she needs!
E. The Lord uses the members of the congregation to select these officers (e.g., Acts 6:3)
It is very important for us to understand this biblically.
According to the Bible, the fact that the congregation selects her officers does not mean that the officers receive their authority from the congregation. Officers receive their authority from the Lord himself.
In Acts, the congregation selected candidates, but the Apostles appointed and ordained those who were qualified.
Remember: the Lord makes officers and the church selects them. The church’s selection is her outward confirmation that she believes the Lord has called them.
Accordingly, never forget that when you elect church officers, you are responsible to exercise SPIRITUAL discernment.
You are to seek—in dependence on the Lord—faithfully to answer the question:
Has the Lord himself called and equipped this man to serve in this task in this place at this time?
II. PROCEDURE — HOW IS A CONGREGATION TO SELECT HER OFFICERS?
A. We must recognize that church office is a high calling.
Elders (1 Tim. 3:1)
Deacons (1 Tim. 3:13)
1st, we must respect the office of the men who labour as special officers in the church—not because of what the men are in themselves, but rather because they serve as the media of our Lord Jesus Christ; they serve in his Name and represent his authority.
2nd, we must therefore exercise great care in selecting the officers of the church, seeking first the Lord and his will.
B. We must recognize that God insists on specific qualifications for special officers.
Elders (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Tit. 1:5–9)
Deacons (1 Tim. 3:8–12; cf. Acts 6:3)
C. We must prove the men before placing them in church office (1 Tim. 3:10a)
Each man must prove himself (1 Tim. 3:1)
Ask questions like:
Does the Lord himself want me to serve in this way?
Has he equipped me with the necessary qualifications?
Am I motivated—not by sinful ambition, but—by a godly desire (eager willingness to serve)?
The council of elders (“session”) must prove them (1 Tim. 5:22; Acts 20:28–31)
The congregation must prove them.
And so God lays out his qualification in black and white.
For help, see “THE BIBLICAL QUALIFICATIONS FOR ELDERS AND DEACONS” by A.A. Allison