As a Pastor or existing Elder Team seeks to find a man who may be a viable candidate for the role of Elder (yes, I’m complementarian in my views on this subject), what sort of things should they be looking for or considering in order to evaluate whether they should even approach him about the subject? Here’s my take on it…
- Know the biblical qualifications for an Elder. Study them. Make sure you understand them. You must clearly know what you are looking for before you will ever know if you’ve found it.
- Commit to those qualifications as the God-given requirements for your search. Don’t allow yourself to look at business savvy, smarts, or education as qualifications for Elders. Don’t even let yourself be satisfied with “he’s got a good heart.” You need men who are exemplary in their Christian walk, which is what the biblical qualifications are overall – an example of a Christian man. Your church family will only rise in maturity to the level of its leadership. Set the bar high, as Paul does.
- Remember that these qualifications indicate direction, not perfection. Nobody is perfect in every one of these characteristics, but every man considered for the role of Elder must be heading in that direction consistently and with passion. Watch for the grace of God, evident in the growth patterns of his life.
- Look for men who are already serving joyfully in the church. Men who already understand the selfless nature of the Christian life are well on their way to the Elder mindset you are looking for. Look for men who are already making disciples, on the front end (through evangelism) and/or on the back (through mentoring or discipleship).
- Look for men who are doing a good job leading at home. Paul makes much of this. A man who is the “real deal” spiritually will be able to effectively transmit that passion to his own family first. His first disciples (his family) are the barometer for whether he’s capable of making additional disciples.
- Look for men who have a heart/desire for the role. You may have to get to know men a bit more deeply to find this out, but it’s worth your time. Men who talk about Christ, men who talk about the importance of the church, men who talk about the purity, reputation, and health of the body, men who talk about the need Christians have for maturity and growth – those are the men you are looking for. They may even come right out and express, “I would like to investigate becoming an Elder of this church family.” That’s not arrogance or selfish ambition necessarily – it could be evidence of a God-given call.
I’ve recently published my first book – “The Elder Training Handbook” that covers all of this blog post and much more, in greater detail. If you’d like to find a copy for yourself, go to the FREE tab at the top of this blog. There you’ll find options for the free E-book download of the ETH, as well as an option to buy a hard-copy and have it shipped to you.