This morning, in Bible class, we looked at what Scripture says about New Testament leadership and answered some questions that we’ve received about how this is put into action at LHBC. I’ve attached the PDF that we used this morning as a guide to what the New Testament teaches.
Please take the time to read through the PDF to better understand the Biblical reasons for how we have organized the leadership of LHBC. If you have questions, any of the Elders can help you out.
Below are the questions and answers from this morning’s Bible class hour that you may have heard or even had yourself:
Q: Are we going to hire a new Full-Time Pastor?
A: Immediately? No. However, this is something that we will be evaluating over time. Being a paid staff member is not equivalent to being “in charge.” Being a paid Elder simply provides more availability to the church that the other Elders may not have, given their employment. However, the more important question is not will we hire someone, but should we hire someone. Is it Biblical to hire an Elder?
Scripture makes reference to the church supporting an Elder in 1 Timothy 5:7, Galatians 6:6 and 1 Corinthians 9:1-18. Paul even states in 1 Corinthians that he has the right to require support but in some instances chose not to exercise that right. So, is it Biblical to have a “supported” Elder(s)? Yes, however, Scripture seems to indicate that this was something they could excuse if they felt it was the Lord’s will.
We will be evaluating the needs of LHBC going forward to determine if a paid Elder is necessary. If so, most likely one will be chosen from our current Elders, unless the Lord has lead us to bring on another Elder. Again, scripture does not indicate that Elders who receive support are above the others. Regardless of pay, all Elders are equal in role, responsibility, and authority based on Scripture. Pay does not reflect ability, responsibility or authority. It solely reflects availability.
Q: Are we going to fill the empty Elder spot?
A: Scripture does not give us a specific count of elders nor does it give us an Elder to member ratio or any other method for determining the correct number. This is based on the needs of the Church as well as the availability of men worthy to be potential Elders and their desire to take on the responsibility.
Appointing Elders is not a quick process. The requirements laid out in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 indicate that there is a process of observing the lives of the men who would be appointed to Eldership. There are many aspects of these requirements that take months if not years to evaluate properly, which goes against the current process for calling a Pastor in many churches today.
In 1 Timothy 3:22, Paul warns Timothy from being hasty when “laying on hands.” This is a reference to appointing Elders in the Church. This process takes time. While we are always looking out for men who meet these qualifications as potential elders, much of it will depend on the needs of the Church as well. We will not rush into ordaining any new Elders immediately.
Q. Who is going to be the leader now?
A. If any man at LHBC is looked to as the “leader” of the Church, including our current Elders, then we’ve been doing it wrong! Scripture is very clear that Christ alone is the head of the church. The Elders were given to oversee and guide the church under the headship of Christ. Paul made this very clear in 1 Corinthians 1 and 3 that the church is Christ’s, He alone is the head. Ephesians 4 echoes this as well in verse 15 when it states that the leadership gifts given to the church for equipping the saints are to help them grow to become like the head… Christ! Peter also confirms the humility that is required by the Elders in 1 Peter 5 as he lays out the responsibility to shepherd under the “Chief Shepherd.” When we even simply use a title such as “head” or “lead” Pastor/Elder we create the opportunity for weaker Christians (like those in 1 Corinthians) to begin to follow men instead of Christ. That is not our goal and is not in keeping with how Christ built His church in the recorded Scriptures.
Q. How do you guys make decisions with an even number of people? Who is the tie-breaker?
A. Unity among the Elders is a necessary aspect that we find in Scripture. This does not mean that we must always agree. God has gifted each Elder with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives that often provide a more thorough process for evaluating decisions for the church. The Elders at LHBC believe that it is not only best but Biblical that any decision is made unanimously.
Why? God is not the author of confusion, nor does He promote disunity among the church. Each time we meet, we seek the wisdom from above as stated in James 1:5-8. We believe, therefore, that God will give us the wisdom we need to lead the church according to His will. If there is disunity, there are only two options. Either there is sin in the life of one or more Elders, or the Holy Spirit has not made it clear to all Elders that a decision is correct or timely. When there is no unity, there is no decision. We must learn to lead on God’s time frame and not ours.
We find a Biblical precedent in Acts 15:6-35. Here we see a very major decision for the church regarding the need for Gentile converts to follow the law of Moses. It begins by stating that there was much debate. Even in that meeting, there was a debate, different speakers with different perspectives on the decision to be made. However, after discussion was made, we see a clear unity of both the Apostles and the Elders and even the Church at Jerusalem when they make the judgment. There is even an indication of such in verse 25 where it states they were “in one accord.” It seems clear that the decision of the Apostles and Elders was unanimous and provides an excellent example for how decisions for the local church should be handled as well.
Even this process, when followed shows the value of equality, plurality, and unity of Elders in the local church. It also reminds not only the church but the Elders as well that Christ is the head and that we must seek Him to provide clear direction for His church in every decision.