Vol. 9, No. 1
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The early church was led by elders (Acts 20:17) appointed under strict rules (1 Timothy 3:1-7). Requirements of being blameless, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, patient and not greedy for money suggest that leaders should be models--role models--for members and for non-members. Therefore, anything in one's past that can bring criticism, or turn persons away, is not good, and such men should not be chosen. It does not make any difference whether the event is valid according to the Bible or not for it is the affect on people that matters. And all of these should be taken into account. Perfection is not likely, yet some things have an undesirable impact on Christians and non-Christians, for most people view church leaders as special people, thus the role model need.
Church leaders should never be consciously guilty of prejudice. They should never sort people, especially members. Sorting, categorizing, grouping members, should not be, for each member is equal to all other members. Paul publicly rebuked Peter for prejudice (Galatians 2:11-14).
Elders were given instructions: "Take heed therefore unto your selves, and to all the flock" (Acts 20:28). Peter adds more, saying, "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:1-3). The leaders are to be role models and thus look at self in light of God's Word, and then to care for the members, each one, as would a shepherd of his flock of sheep.
Both passages infer that church leaders should be involved with every member as s shepherd would be with his sheep, conducting themselves as servants taking care of their master's property, namely Christ in this case. In Acts 6:1-4, we see that the apostles, which are examples for church leaders, taking their responsibilities of prayer and ministering God's Word more important than social or "lesser" activities, for example.
David was a shepherd of sheep for his father Jesse. When a lion and a bear came at the sheep David slew both, protecting the sheep (1 Samuel 17:34-36). When the giant Philistine came against God's people, David slew the giant, protecting the people (1 Samuel 17:48-50).
Jesus was also a shepherd, saying, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine" (John 10:14). Jesus also knew what shepherding his Master's sheep meant. He went into the Temple and cast out the sellers, cleansing the temple (Luke 19:45-46). Jesus also emphasized the care of even one sheep saying, "What man of you having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which was lost, until he find it" (Luke 15:4).
Together, then, we see elders as actively interested and involved in the needs of every member, and protecting them, and feeding them the Word of God. Seen also is the freedom to serve God, fellow Christians and non-Christians, that Christ gave every Christian, being preserved by the leaders.
Is the church growing, not for the sake of numbers, but because of teaching people the truth of God? No. Is the church stagnated or dead in that area? Live churches move out into the community in faith. It is often true that stagnant churches focus on programs rather than people.
Charles F. Kettering said, "If you want to kill any idea in the world today, get a committee working on it." Add to that this action, if you want to dilute a teaching of the Bible until it is little more than soft soap get a committee to working on it.
Stagnant, dead churches come to a "can't" mentality. What happened to "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13)? Live churches rarely use the word "can't," and then only when forced to, acting in faith in God and Christ.