Summary: The New Testament pattern for church leadership is not personnel committees, democracy, influential families in the church, or hierarchies. It is simply a group of men known as elders who study and seek to follow God’s Word.
Simple Leadership: Elders
1. We usually think of authority issues when it comes to parents and teens.
2. One teen recently blogged, “Today, my mom screeched at me about my pillowcase being dirty and finished off one long rant with an irate "Who raised you to be such a pig?" Her anger multiplied by ten when I asked if it was a trick question.”
3. Authority issues are a rough spot in most churches; ours has been no exception.
4. Yet God has ordained a very simple structure for church leadership.
Main Idea: The New Testament pattern for church leadership is not personnel committees, democracy, influential families in the church, or hierarchies. It is simply a group of men known as elders who study and seek to follow God’s Word.
I. SPECIAL Honor to Elders (17-18)
A. All Elders are to be RESPECTED (17a)
1. Temptation to view those in authority as OBSTACLES or out of TOUCH
2. Disrespect: an old church tradition, even the APOSTLES!
3. Elders must be involved with and NURTURE relationships (shepherds)
4. CONTEMPT is the opposite of respect
5. Goal: Pray for them and seek to make their job JOYFUL
Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
B. Preaching/Teaching Elders are to be DOUBLE honored (17b-18)
1. TIMOTHY perhaps the main preaching/teaching elder (2 Timothy 4:2)
2. Letter written to Timothy in theory, but really to the CHURCH at Ephesus
3. An allusion to FINANCIAL support (cf. I Timothy 5:3)
4. Illustrated by the TORAH and JESUS
2 Timothy 2:42, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching…”
2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
• The Christian life is not only about the Gospel or following Golden Rule; we want to conform to God’s will in every area, a reason our Bibles are so thick.
• Some things are more important than others, but all Scripture is inspired, all Scripture is profitable, and we need all Scripture to be complete (2 Tim. 3:16)
• Therefore, we need to hear the Bible preached/taught, not just alluded to.
C. This suggests preaching/teaching is the most CRUCIAL ministry
Application: In all relationships, respect breeds harmony and unity, disrespect or suspicion breeds conflict and misunderstanding.
II. Special ACCOUNTABILITY of Elders (19-21)
A. The most important job of an elder is to be an EXAMPLE
1. Hebrews 13:7, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
2. Elders pray for and help shepherd Jesus’ flock, so they are crucial to a loving church. Our board spends the first hour of meetings in prayer for our flock
3. Since elders hold so much influence, it is especially painful if they go astray
4. We have had conflict involving elders, but we have never yet had to deal with moral failure, heresy, or financial irregularities with our elders’ board
B. Because leaders interfere with agendas, they are often falsely ACCUSED
1. Moses by Korah, Dathan and Abiram; even his siblings, Miriam and Aaron held Moses in contempt;
2. David undermined by Absalom.
3. Paul by Judaizers, Jesus by his brothers.
• In our church, elders have to be reaffirmed every two years; an extra layer of accountability. The majority of elders can remove an elder in a case of gross sin, or 2/3 of the membership at a duly called business meeting can do so.
C. Elders are to be given the benefit of the DOUBT (19-21)
1. A serious failure must be CONFIRMED by at least 2 or 3 witnesses
Application: With privilege comes accountability; many people want the privileges of leadership, but do not want the hot seat of responsibility and accountability. The two have to go together.
III. Special CARE in Ordination (5:22-25)
A. Our understanding of ordination is LIMITED
Is this talking about ordaining all the elders, or the preaching/teaching elder (Tim)?
In Bible churches, it is the individual church that ORDAINS
I Timothy 4:14, “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.”
B. We are accountable for those we ENDORSE through ordination (22)
We are ordaining leaders of Jesus’ flock, not just any group; we are out to serve Jesus, not just keep a church going or accumulate bodies, bucks, and buildings.