bits from bob....
In our recent efforts to select and confirm elders and deacons, the question has been asked, "Isn't this a ‘popularity contest'?" The question deserves an answer. A related question also focuses the problem: How Else Would We Decide?
This series of articles will address three areas in leadership selection in the church: who decides, how the decision is made, and what scriptural precedents we may use to guide us. This first article asks who should decide and begins to explore some of the methods that could be used.
I. The present elders could decide.
The current elders could select men and announce that those men will be elders barring any "scriptural objections." This approach has the advantage of building on the judgment of spiritual men with spiritual discernment, but is disadvantaged by the human tendency to select those like ourselves and those who agree with us. Objections to this approach include making the eldership "self-perpetuating." Another disadvantage is that elders are not all-wise and may overlook those the congregation would willingly follow.
II. The present elders could select men and ask the congregation to participate in a confirmation process.
This option differs from the first primarily in that the congregational confirmation considers both "scriptural objections" and leadership-followship potential. Especially in situations where more men are qualified than can practically serve, this approach provides a method for determining which are best suited for the work. As a final consideration, it is essential that the congregation be willing to follow the (under)shepherds [elders]. John 10 teaches that the sheep recognize the shepherd's voice; the shepherd knows the sheep. In some way one must ask concerning sheep-shepherd relationships.
III. A specially selected group of individuals could decide.
From the outset this approach depends upon the wisdom of either the elders or the church in selecting the group to oversee the process. Ideally, spiritual individuals are selected and the process rests on spiritual judgments. One advantage is that the present elders are dissociated from the process, thus eliminating the disadvantages and objection of the first option above.
IV. The church could decide.
When we look at scriptural precedents in a subsequent article, we will learn that the church was apparently involved in the selection processes described in the New Testament.
The best answer to the "Who?" question is likely a combination--the current leadership should be involved, a special task force could assist in bringing God's wisdom and guidance to the process, but finally the congregation must evaluate and confirm its leaders.
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