Friday, September 16, 2005

Future Trends #6: Elder-Rule

Sorry for the delay on my posts. Starting school has slowed down my personal blogging.

I believe that one of the sharpest trends to shape the future church will be the elder-rule model. Most young ministers that I know who have grown up in congregational-rule models are done with them. There are still many questions about authority that the church will struggle with in the future (say between full-time staff and lay-leadership), but I see growing unanimity in young leaders away from a committee and congregational-led model.

The Scripture talks about elders (also called overseers) several times, but without much specificity as far as how they function in the practical leadership of the church. In the book of Acts, the apostles called qualified men to serve as deacons to take care of the physical needs of the people so that they could focus on their calling - praying and teaching the Word. Most scholars agree that there is enough ambiguity in the NT to allow for different models of biblical leadership in the local church. However, the key issue of ecclesiology that the NT does address is the supreme leadership of Jesus. He is the head, the real senior pastor. Therefore, the main question for the church is how to best follow Jesus' leadership as its head. The most startling reality is that men who desire to lead the church in following Jesus must first know who Jesus is and understand what he is trying to accomplish through his church. This requires a great deal of knowledge and wisdom concerning the teachings of the Bible. We need to find godly men of character who know the Scriptures and are obeying its teaching to show us how to follow Jesus.

Our generation is done with the model that says everyone is in charge of the church. Everyone in the church is not in the same place spiritually. Honestly, some are more mature than others. This is why Paul tells Timothy to make sure that the elders are not new converts. We need to find those men of faith who have been following hard after Jesus for a good amount of time and get behind their leadership. Jesus commands quality elders in His Word, and the church will limp along until we grasp this idea. The church of the future will begin to shape itself around following men who are following hard after Jesus.

5 comments:

Caitie said...

I've never been scholarly enough to really comment back on this thing, providing encouragement or debate, but I just wanted to thank you for what you do on this. For me, its a higher level look into subjects that helps to challenge my mind a bit on what I think relative to what the bible says. Thanks Keith

Paul Williamson said...

The emphasis of the New Testament is on the character of the church leaders and not on the administrative structure of the church (1 Timothy 3:1-12; Titus 1:5-9). Good adminstrative structure is useless in the hands of unqualified men. Poor adminstrative stucture may inhibit men of skill and character, but it won't prohibit them from carrying out their responsibilities before God. And great, point Keith, the real goal and responsiblity of the men who lead our churches is to lead us all to follow the Lord of the church our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you are using the term, "men" to refer to men and women of faith who have been following Jesus - right? Good points...extremely well written.

Anonymous said...

Having a group of "qualified" men is not always the easiest thing to do. I personally have seen situations where elder rule led to money problems / sexual wrongdoings and other things, mainly because there was no accountability. So from my personal experiences, elder rule is not the way to go. Just my two cents. Even the men of God are just that - MEN of God, not God. They make mistakes, they mess up all of the time. So, why would there be a need for a group of elders to mess things up, regardless of what others in the church think? Just something to think about.

Anonymous said...

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