Tuesday, October 02, 2007

APPOINTING ELDERS

As I mentioned in Sunday's post, I appointed elders at the Wilsonville church this past Sunday. It was the result of years of labor extending back to the time before I even arrived here.

I believe that it is the role of the evangelist to set things in order according to Paul's instructions by appointing (ordaining) elders. That does not mean arbitrarily choosing men and forcing them on the congregation. Following the example of the selection of the Seven in Acts 6, the congregation put forward men in keeping with the Scriptural qualifications. Although that example is not identical to the selection and appointment of elders, there we find guiding principles. An office, in that situation a temporary one, was created by the apostles, qualifications were given and the church put forward men in keeping with those qualifications. The apostles then appointed them to the work. We emulated that process in our appointment of our elders.

On Sunday I spoke to the congregation about our duties to submit to the leadership and example of the men selected. I then spoke again of the roles and duties of the elders themselves. I then asked the men to come forward, read a list of those roles and duties and asked them if they would fulfill them. Upon their agreement, I said the following:
In accordance with my role as an evangelist, in keeping with the considered selection of this congregation consistent with the revealed qualifications of Scripture, I appoint and ordain you overseers of the Lord's church in Wilsonville, Alabama, and commend you to the Lord in whom we believe.
I know there have been times when the installation of elders in some places has only gained a mention in the opening announcements of a church service. I believe it's a more significant event than that, and we would do well to mark the occasion of overseer appointment with some solemnity.

12 comments:

Jared Saltz said...

Well,

I know that this has certainly been a long-time goal of yours at Wilsonville. I'm certainly glad to have seen it come about, even if I'm no longer a constant part of that work.

I'm sure that both of the men chosen will serve God in the way they were appointed.

Chris said...

An excellent point about the need to ordain elders with solemnity and with a bit (just a bit) of ceremony.

McGarvey says as much in his treastise on the eldership, although he suggests that laying on of hands should be part of the process (I guess that would be a little weird, wouldn't it?)

On a side note, do you get hassled alot for your beliefs about evangelistic oversight? I'm imagining some places where that wouldn't go over so well. (Not that I myself have any issues with it. After all, how is a congregation run scripturally minus elders; evangelistic oversight seems like the next best thing -- certainly more scriptural than "men's business meetings."

Again, my congratulations.

Chris

Anonymous said...

When I presided over the appointment of a new elder last year, I did a sort of laying on of hands--no anointing with oil or anything, but after his statements of affirmation, I personalized Paul's charge in Acts 20:28, and as I recited it, I placed my hand on the man's shoulder. Then I asked for participation on the part of the saints--all who will support and submit to this man's leadership, stand. Like you say, Chris, that little bit of practical ceremony (if there can be such a thing) made a big difference.

- Mitch

Anonymous said...

In reference to "evangelistic oversight" couldn't I Cor. 16:15-16 point us to something other than the "men's business meeting" or the idea of a single evangelist running things, if I'm understanding correctly the term evangelistic oversight?

Owen

Acolyte4236 said...

Can you clarify for me. does your church ordain via an anouncement or also with the laying on of hands?

Jeff @ truth-in-love.com said...

I've always been curious why people feel that Paul's writings to Timothy and Titus constitute a located evangelist being the one to ordain elders. That's an inference, but it's not a necessary one. One could just as easily reason that only young preachers would be able to ordain elders.

The only necessary inference I can draw from the passages is that (a) someone should ordain them and (b) it should be someone who knows what the Scriptures require of elders. Anything more may be reasonable, but reasonable isn't the same as necessary.

Alan said...

I don't think it's necessary to have a local evangelist ordain elders. If a congregation did not have a local evangelist, elders certainly could be appointed anyway. However, in our case we do have one (ie, me), and I believe that in the absence of elders it is the evangelist's job to 'set things in order' by seeing to it that elders are appointed. I saw that as one of my primary charges in working with a church without elders.

Since we do have an evangelist and we were appointing elders it seems to make sense that the evangelist would be the one to do it. If I had been home sick, say, then the elders could have assumed their position without my presence, certainly.

Acolyte, I did not actually lay hands on them, if by that we mean putting my hands on their shoulders. I did shake their hands, or perhaps I should say I offered them the right hand of fellowship (sounds more Biblical). As the Scriptures do not define what laying on of hands is, anyway, I did lay hands on their hands.

jdavidb said...

I'm starting to toy with the extremely unorthodox view that "apostle" should just be translated "missionary" (yes, some were special missionaries sent directly by Jesus, others were sent by churches), and that the apostle(s) involved in a church without elders should be the ones to appoint elders.

And with the even more unorthodox view that missionaries would be under the oversight of elders from an established church when they did so... No, this doesn't lead to hierarchy, because once the church has elders it is established and governs itself.

Toy with the idea, mind you. Not subscribe to.

jdavidb said...

And that's not a doctrine thing, just an "I think Jesus envisioned something like this as the norm," thing. Certainly there will often be groups of believers who don't yet have elders and don't have a missionary working with them.

Anonymous said...

What would constitute an "established" congregation vs. an "unestablished" congregation?


Owen

Anonymous said...

jdavidb,

I followed the link to your site and noticed the comments about the congregation at Santa Clara. I grew up in that congregation and was added to the Lord's body while attending there. I still have family there and the church there is near and dear to my heart. I shared some of those comments with one of their elders and am forwarding him the link to the site. He will be sharing them with the other elders. Those were very encouraging words. You are correct, they are a very dynamic congregation. Thank you for your thoughts.

Owen

John said...

I love what I'm reading here! The concept of an evangelist being under an eldership, and yet working with another congregation so that he can appoint elders there is very biblical (I'd be glad to offer the rationale for this if anyone is interested). I have witnessed this in practice multiple times, and it works wonderfully. Applying the biblical pattern for evangelists helps eliminate a great many problems in the church (in this area and in others). I am hopeful that brethren can begin to better see this in days to come.

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