Should Local Assemblies Have Recognized Elders?
Brother Gary McBride has an excellent post today on the assemblyHUB blog entitled Should We Have Elders Today? In his article brother Gary outlines why he believes local assemblies (churches) should have elders. He supports his position by looking at relevant scriptures passages and by exploring a few real life considerations.
While this topic may seem strange– most Protestant church groups practice some form of eldership and the New Testament seems to clearly teach eldership– there are some groups who hold to the teaching that elders are not for today.
Gary writes in part:
The premise of this article is that the office was introduced at the beginning of this age and is applicable for the whole period. In the epistles there are at least six references to elders. The references are as follows: Philippians 1:1, 1Timothy 3:1-7; 5:17-20; Titus 1:5-9; James 5:14; and 1Peter 5:1-4. To these could be added Acts 20:17 and 28, though Acts is narrative and not necessarily normative. Paul is giving a discourse that includes doctrine. There are also four verses that reference those who rule or who are in authority: 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13; and Hebrews 13:7, 17.
A plurality in leadership, elders or overseers is the most likely expectation of the reader of the New Testament. Most individuals reading through the Bible would assume that the pattern seen and the topic spread thoughout the New Testament would be visible today. It may be true that the church in the Western world is far from the simplicity and spirituality of the early church, but that is not necessarily true in the entire world. In addition, there is no scripture either stated or implied that indicates the office of elder is to cease.
Experientially I have found that with or without recognition someone has to take leadership. Regardless of the size of the assembly and the mechanics of decision making, someone or a plurality has to take the lead. In assemblies without designated elders either the majority of the men take leadership or only certain men are invited to be in leadership. It seems to me that in many ways it is merely a matter of semantics – there are men in leadership but the word “elders” is not used.
I encourage you to read Gary’s full article here.
Full disclosure: I am a member of the assemblyHUB.com leadership team.