I received this question last night through http://www.gotquestions.org and wanted to share it with you this morning. I will comment after the answer I gave on my thoughts on this all-too-familiar issue that I’ve been seeing lately.
Question: Our local church is going through the process of establishing elders. It has been in existence for about 5 years, we have been attending for about 3. Apparently there is a lot of background that I will not get into. The man who currently teaches most every Sunday does not have a desire to be one of the elders. He does plan on continuing to teach. My question would be should he be allowed to be constantly in the pulpit teaching if he is not an elder. I have no problem allowing a man who is doctrinally sound to take their place behind the pulpit from time to time but it seems strange to allow someone to consistently teach if they are not an elder. I am soliciting thoughts from outsiders so as not to be partial. Your thoughts?
Answer: Thank you for writing to us. Nowhere in the Bible is it commanded that the man who “teaches from the pulpit” must be an elder. Something to consider is that Paul was not an elder of a church, he was what we would refer to today as a church planter and traveling evangelist – he was also never ordained for that matter. I must beg you, do NOT allow the church to get hung up on the legalism of what this world says about churches being run and what “we” think things “ought to be” in establishing church doctrine. 1 Timothy Chapter 3 is very clear about the qualifications of pastors, elders, deacons, etc., and we must not allow ourselves to add to or think we know how things ought to run that is apart from the Word of God. God bless you. ~ Rev TJ Conwell
Comment: In my personal opinion, this is really what is wreaking total havoc in churches today. Why is it that we spend so much time getting wrapped up in thinking we need to add to the scripture rather than just following it? Is there, or has there ever been, a time when we ever knew more than the Lord? The answer is obviously a loud “NO”, but we do it anyway. I’ve said for many years that if we continue to treat God like Burger King then He is more than willing to let us “have it our own way”; but we need to remember that He is under NO obligation to bless it or honor it just because we say we are doing it “in His name”. It’s time to wake up fellow Christians and return to the Word of the Lord. Stop trying to navigate these things alone and seek refuge and guidance from the One who gives us everything we need!
Joel 2:12-13 says, “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
So, the bottom line is this: Will we follow the Lord’s direction or our own? I guess time will be the true litmus test for revealing this one, eh? God bless you friends and thank you for reading.
2 thoughts on “Ugh, not legalism … AGAIN!”
I would also note that being the normal teacher of a church without being an elder is counter intuitive. The elder is someone who establishes the teaching of the church based on following God’s Word as close as possible. He leads that particular body and dedicates himself to the equipping of the saints at that local church. To want to speak but not be an elder is like preaching without being a pastor. Paul established churches and taught doctrine as an apostle. He was by nature a missionary to establish the church and their elders abroad.
I would not want someone who has the desire to teach but not to lead apart of leadership. That is the unbiblical side that I see to the situation. Just my thoughts.
I would agree with that my brother, except for one critical issue I see. Have either of us ever been set aside and given the title of “elder”? No, I have been called a pastor and you an associate pastor, but never an elder (at least not in the routine Baptist circles which may be an error). I think the trap here is getting wrapped around the ankles about titles, versus going to church to worship the One who deserves the focus.