Summary: Using First Timothy 3 as a text, this is the message delivered at the elder ordination service of Castle Hills Christian Church.
ELDER ORDINATION SERVICE
Text:I Tim.1-1:3, II Pet.5::1-4
Today we are assembled to set apart men to an important ministry. These men have been chosen by this congregation to serve as elders of the Castle Hills Christian Church.
1. What is an elder?
The New Testament uses three words for elders. These words discribe elders and give a clue as to their work.
A. Presbuteros (from which we get the word Presbyterian) is the Greek word for Elder. The word can be interpreted to mean elderly. I am more inclined to consider that the real issue here is one of maturity. The Hebrew elders were not only older men, they were men who had shown leadership capabilities. Not everyone who achieves a ripe old age is automatically qualified to be an elder. The person needs to be old enough to have experienced some of life, and mature enough to show that he has learned some lessons from it.
B. Episkopos (from which we get the word Episcopalian) is the Greek word for Bishop. The word means "overseer”. This describes an important aspect of the elder’s work. These men collectively are the spiritual overseers of the church. They should be the primary teachers, evangelists, visionaries, administrators, and examples for the rest of the congregation. These men are the ones to demonstrate what the Christian walk should be. In word and deed they are to show forth the mind of Christ.
C. Poimen is the Greek word for shepherd or pastor. Although there are many churches where the minister is called "Pastor". The elders are actually the pastors of the church. The work of pastor or shepherd implies spiritual nurturing of the flock. This word reveals that, rather than just becoming chief administrators, the elders are to become the caretakers of the members of the congregation.
What does that do to the position of the minister? It frees the minister to become the evangelist he was designed to be. No
one man can possibly hope to take care of the needs of hundreds
of members in a growing congregation. For this reason, the
churches in the Bible appointed a plurality of spiritual leaders
to undertake the work of nurturing the flock toward spiritual
maturity. When people Expect one man to be the “pastor" they are
asking the impossible. They are also expecting, what the Bible
never mandated. These men called, ’elders" are your pastors.
II. WHAT ARE ELDERS TO BE ?
The spiritual qualifications of Elders are found in the Pastoral epistles. We read in 1 Tim. 1:7(concerning elders) “Here is a trustworthy saying; if anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness. not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s
church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”
All of this can be summed up in two words, "above reproach".
The elder must be a man who can be trusted and respected by the congregation. He must be a man you are willing to follow.
In the world, a leader might lead by decree, throwing his weight around, demanding compliance from others, lording over them. This is not the pattern for the church. A leader in the church would exercise his God-given authority, not by decree, handing down edicts and rules, but by godly example and sound teaching.
Paul exhorted Timothy, ’Keep a critical eye both on your own life and on the teaching you give.." 1. Tim. 4:16.
I heard of a church that held an all day leadership training seminar in hope of getting more men to volunteer for elder and deacon roles in the church. They spent much time talking about the qualifications for both offices mentioned in the Pastoral epistles. Several men had indicated their interest in the tasks under consideration, but at the end of the day, after careful study of the qualifications for elders and deacons, all men there declined because they felt unqualified. The whole purpose of the day’s training was to enlist new workers, but hearing about the qualifications led all to disqualify themselves. I think that happens often. And because of it, I believe that Paul gave Timothy the task to look for men who, in his estimation, met the qualifications already and appoint them to the task. I believe that today we ask too much of leadership candidates in expecting them to assess themselves as fully qualified according to the list of qualifications for elders and deacons because humble men will disqualify themselves nine times out of ten, and the other one out of ten probably thinks too highly of himself thereby making him suspect as well.