Who are church elders? – June 2, 2016
My wife and I were new to the area and looking for a church. We happened on one of medium size and lots of friendly people at first glance. After a few weeks, we were having lunch with one of the established couples. They were sharing the many attributes of their church including the fact they had Elder Couples! I was mid-drink but maintained my composure.
“Perhaps you can explain to us what an Elder Couple is, folks,” I asked, very curious.
“Well, it’s simple,” the wife said. “Instead of just men taking the positions of elders, in our church we select married couples as elders. That way the women can minister to women and men with men. You have probably noticed that after the service, the couples wait up front for counseling and prayer.”
“What brought this about?” I asked.
“We like to think of our church as a forward thinking, non-discriminatory church,” the husband replied. “I’m sure you agree that many churches don’t allow women many opportunities to reveal their gifts during the services. Our wives got together and thought of the idea. Then they asked for a special meeting with the Pastor and elders. At first the men balked,” he grinned sheepishly but as the women stood their ground we ultimately gave in their reasoning. I’ve got to say Pastor Bob held out to the last before he finally caved.”
“Oh Bill, you make it sound like we beat you guys up to get our way,” Susie said, rubbing Bill’s hand on the table. Bill reddened and fumbled with his silverware.
My wife looked at me with that special look husbands and wives have. This look said, “You know you have to address this issue.” So I did.
I finished my coffee and then said to Bill and Susie, “Do you both believe that the Bible is the absolute word of God?”
“Absolutely,” they replied together.
“Then how can you agree to change the Bible to go along with your church’s plans? The Bible says nothing about elder couples. Quite the contrary, the instructions say, Elder, singular. And that “he” is assigned specific duties. Let’s read an example in 1 Timothy 3:1-7
“It is a true statement that anyone whose goal is to serve as an elder has his heart set on a good work. An elder must be such a good man that no one can rightly criticize him. He must be faithful to his wife. He must have self-control and be wise. He must be respected by others. He must be ready to help people by welcoming them into his home. He must be a good teacher. He must not drink too much, and he must not be someone who likes to fight. He must be gentle and peaceful. He must not be someone who loves money. He must be a good leader of his own family. This means that his children obey him with full respect. If a man does not know how to lead his own family, he will not be able to take care of God’s church.
An elder must not be a new believer. It might make him too proud of himself. Then he would be condemned for his pride the same as the devil was. An elder must also have the respect of people who are not part of the church. Then he will not be criticized by others and be caught in the devil’s trap.”
The silence was palpable. Bill and Susie wished the ground would open up and swallow them. “Uh, well. . .” Bill muttered.
“Listen folks, we have to go now so you two can think this over together and look up the verses in the Bible to satisfy yourselves what God says regarding this issue. Whether or not your church chooses to grapple with this deviation is up to them. As for me and my wife, we will not return to your church. We find it rather scary to see how easily your leaders twisted God’s Word to satisfy a few people. Thanks for lunch.