When it’s time to add to the group of elders or deacons, who makes the selection? I’ve observed at least three ways: (1) Elders select whom they think would do the best work and submit the list to the church to evaluate. (2) Elders ask the church to make suggestions, but make the final decision as to those selected. (3) The church selects. The elders or preachers ordain.
A few years ago, I noticed there was a difference in selection and appointment of leaders in the church. I’d always thought of those as the same thing. Who is to select leaders in the church? Notice what the Bible tells us about this.
- Paul told the elders at Ephesus the Holy Spirit had made them overseers. The word, made, means “to assign someone to a particular task, function, or role—‘to appoint, to designate’ ” (Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.). New York: United Bible Societies). It’s my understanding the Holy Spirit makes elders by converting, instructing, and maturing men to be leaders God wants them to be and by giving Christians qualities to look for in selecting these men to serve in leadership positions.
- I find passages telling me preachers appointed elders. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in churches they established on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:23). The word means “to formally appoint or assign someone to a particular task” (Louw, Nida). Paul left Titus in Crete to appoint elders in every city (Titus 1:5). The word there means “to assign to someone a position of authority over others —‘to put in charge of, to appoint, to designate’ ” (Louw, Nida). Nothing is said in these verses about who selected the elders. Paul, Barnabas, and Titus appointed men as elders.
- In Exodus 18:25, we read, “Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people.” But, when we get to Deuteronomy 1, Moses tells us how he chose to choose leaders. Moses was speaking to “all Israel” (Deuteronomy 1:1). Moses said to all Israel, “Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you.’ And you answered me and said, ‘The thing which you have told us to do is good’ ” (Deuteronomy 1:13, 14). Moses said, “You (all Israel) choose. I’ll appoint.”
- In Acts 6, when the apostles said they could not leave their tasks in the ministry of the word and prayer, they told the multitude to seek out seven men to serve the widows. The multitude chose. The apostles appointed. If any leaders should have been smart enough and wise enough to pick the best men to be appointed, it seems those whom the Lord selected, taught, and trained should have been the best selectors. However, the apostles told Christians in Jerusalem, “You seek out men. We’ll appoint.” The multitude chose. The apostles appointed. The apostles oversaw the process. They set structure. But the multitude selected. The apostles appointed. Click To Tweet
- The scriptures I’ve found instructing or giving examples of elders selecting elders or deacons:
In the next post, I’ll share a process to implement this principle.
What are some things you’ve seen that did or did not work well in the selection of leaders?
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