Last week, on my post “Honest Questions About Elders/Pastors“, I thought the comments were very good. In reply to two of the comments, I said the following:
As I see it, if a person is not acting as an elder before that person is recognized/appointed by the church as an elder, then that person should not be recognized/appointed. Of course, that means that the person is doing everything an elder should do BEFORE he is an elder…
I think of â€œelderâ€ as a recognition by the church that someone is doing well (or at least consistently) everything that all believers should be doing.
These comments represent my view of elders over the last few years, but a huge change in my view from several years ago. I thought I would take the opportunity to explain some of the implications of this view of elders.
First, there is nothing in the scriptural description of elders that should not be a description of all believers. All believers should have blameless character. All believers should care for their families. All believers should treat other Christians and outsiders properly. All believers should teach and care for (shepherd) and watch out for (oversee) one another.
Second, the fact that all believers SHOULD live in a certain way does not mean that all believers ARE living that way. Thus, the church should recognize (appoint, if you prefer) those who are living more consistently in the way that all believers should live. These are elders.
Third, people are recognized as elders because of the way they are ALREADY living, not so that they will do something different once they are recognized. This requires that all believers be allowed and expected to operate and function together. (In other words, we can’t allow only certain people to teach. All must be allowed to teach so that those who are “able to teach” will be obvious to all.)
Finally, (and I suppose I could add many, many more things to this list) this view of elders requires that believers ALREADY KNOW the people they are recognizing (appointing) as elders. They have already lived with them. They have learned from their teaching. They have grown from their example. They have accepted their correction. They have observed their service.
So, what do you think about my view of elders? What would you add?