I must confess my frustration when looking to identify potential pastor-elders from within our church body. No matter how much I may like certain people, or how gifted they may be in certain areas, some things are deal breakers for these individuals:
• One man is known to be a good Bible teacher, but he is not willing to financially support this church. I guess he doesn't teach that part of the Bible because he's not living it.
• A couple of others have expressed a desire to preach on Sunday mornings. Yet they are not willing to teach anywhere else in the church first, and don't. They don't teach any classes at any level, lead Bible studies, nor lead a small group. If God's Word was really burning in their heart they would teach anywhere they got a chance. Plus it would be an opportunity to prove themselves before others and hone their skills.. But they want to preach on Sunday? It doesn't work like that.
• Still yet another man has demonstrated his skill at being a good Bible teacher, but he won’t make a commitment to the PCC family or our vision.
• And how many other men do I look at – who have such potential – yet they lack a real hunger for the Word of God. They never bring a Bible. They don’t read their Bibles. They don’t talk Bible stuff... and they give little evidence of Bible content stored up in their heart.
You can’t be a pastor-elder at this church under those conditions… even if we are friends. This is Jesus’ church, not mine, and our friendship does not trump God's requirments for you. He’s already prescribed the criteria for leadership in the church and it's His standards, not mine, that have to be met. Exceptions cannot be made. Authority in the church is given only to those who demonstrate that they are ‘under’ the authority of God. And the Sunday morning pulpit is not a place for thrill seekers or spare-time hobbyists. The pulpit is a place where heaven and earth come together so that God’s Word may be communicated, sound doctrine is taught, the church is guided, and God’s people are fed. This position is reserved for those who understand the nature of the calling.
Elders must "FIRST be proved; THEN let them use the office" (I Timothy 3:10).
As Jesus did when selecting His disciples, I think the best place to start when looking for leaders to serve in our church is by prayerfully asking God the Father which men and women He wants chosen. Prayer should always be first. Next we should search out those who are already functioning as pastors in the church, and meet the Biblical criteria. Then we need to look up their financial giving to the church because Jesus teaches us that our money follows our heart, and it’s important to know if people are on board with our mission to take the gospel to our city. Plus they must have a hunger for, and be skilled in, the Word of God.
The people who meet these requirements are easy to identify. Fortunately for PCC, there are plenty to choose from.
Ouch! This was a tough word. And yet I understand that being an elder in the church requires a heart completely surrendered to God and TOTAL commitment to serve in a capacity of CARING for the local body of Christ and serving sacrificially, even sometimes in what might be viewed as the "less desirable" roles, sometimes in the background and not in the spotlight.
This is not for the faint-of-heart . . . and it can't be done without first serving & giving, often on "the back side of the dessert" . . . ministering, serving, teaching, and giving -- first to the few, for this is where you are "proven" and it is there that God will groom you to take on the bigger tasks of church leadership & church eldership.
Being popular is great, being well-liked is great, being gifted is great . . . but it's another thing altogether to serve as an "elder" . . . so much more.
I am praying that those who are CURRENTLY doing the job of teaching & giving, & who are committed in membership, will be COURAGEOUS enough to say "yes" and let God use them to further bless the people of PCC.
Nearly everyone can serve somewhere at PCC . . . but being a church elder calls for another whole level of commitment.
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