Sunday Morning Soundbytes – 5/27/2007

Doing Church Together | Lou Kochanek

Yesterday’s message was the sixth in the Doing Church Together series from the book of 1 Timothy. The message was called, Choosing Qualified Elders, taken from 1 Timothy 3:1-7.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 – Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. (NIV)

The main idea of the message was that we should choose qualified elders to lead the church. Here is a brief recap of the message:

If someone wants to be an elder, Paul says they desire a good thing. But not everyone can be an elder. The oversight of God’s church is a significant responsibility, and there are certain qualifications a person must meet in order to be an elder. So what are they? Paul gives us five basic qualifications in this passage.

1) An elder must be a man of godly character. (verses 2-3)

We find a whole list of character traits in verses 2-3. These are traits that should be present in every Christian’s life. Not everyone is called to be an elder, but everyone is called to godly Christian character. Elders do not have a higher calling in these areas, just a higher accountability. You are not disqualified from being a Christian if you struggle with any of these areas. But you would be disqualified from being an elder. Now an elder does not have to be perfect in all these areas to be an elder. If you had to be perfect, then we wouldn’t have any elders! But an elder should have recognized spiritual growth and maturity in each of these areas before he may serve as an elder.

2) An elder must be able to teach. (end of verse 2)

What kind of teaching must the elder be able to do? Titus 1:9 says the elder must “encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” The elder must be able to teach the Word of God and at the same time guard the church against false teachers and false doctrine. This is one of the things that distinguishes the elder from the deacon. The elder’s function is to provide biblically based oversight and teaching for the local church body.

3) An elder must manage his own family well. (verses 4-5)

The family is one of the testing grounds for an elder’s ability to lead the church. This is part of the resume that a prospective elder brings to the job. What do you look for in an elder’s home? You look for the following things. Does he manage his family well? Does he exercise godly leadership in the home? Do his children respect and obey him? If a man’s family is out of order, he should not serve as an elder. If he can’t take care of his family, how can he take care of God’s church?

4) An elder must not be a recent convert. (verse 6)

The word translated “recent convert” here means “newly planted or newly sprung up.” Someone who has just come to faith often has a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for the Lord. That is great! But it should not be mistaken for spiritual maturity. If you put someone into leadership too quickly, they may not be mature enough to handle it. They may become puffed up with pride. Pride was the devil’s downfall, and it has been the downfall of many a leader as well. We should be discipling new believers, not throwing them into leadership. Give them time to mature and to learn God’s Word and to grow in their understanding of God’s grace in their lives. Then see if they are qualified to be elders.

5) An elder must have a good reputation with outsiders. (verse 7)

The church’s reputation rises or falls with the reputation of its leadership. An elder ministers to the flock, but he represents the church to the outside world. If he does not have a good reputation in the community, he should not serve as an elder. His bad reputation will become the church’s bad reputation. The devil would like nothing more than to discredit the church through its leaders, because he knows it is one of the most effective ways to keep people from coming to Christ.

If you aspire to leadership in the church, you desire a good thing. The qualities required of an elder are qualities that all of us should strive for, whether we ever serve as elders in the church or not. A church is only as strong as its leadership. Therefore, a church should choose its leadership wisely and carefully.

Note: To read the complete message, go to the Sermons tab at the top of the blog.

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