Volume. XXI, No. 50
Saturday, 09 June 2007

From the Pastors Heart: Biblical Elders

As our ACM is coming nearer, so we need to be concerned about the upcoming election for a new Session.  I thought it was important for us to think of the church leadership and leaders’ qualifications before the election.  The election includes pastor, elder, and deacons.  I’d like to talk about biblical elders this week, and to continue on this topic for the next couple of weeks so that you may pray for the election and individual nominees for church offices.  Why do we need to pray for them?  It is because of the importance of their roles and responsibilities.  Hebrews 13:17, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”  Don’t you think that it is important for you to pray for those whom you need to obey and who will rule over you?  We need to have biblical leadership in our church.  Especially, elders (pastors/bishops/elders) are important for every church.  Think about the following two verses.  Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”  1 Peter 5:2, “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.” 


Let me begin with their qualifications.  The fact that there are required qualifications to become church elders indicates that their roles are important.  It is quite often the case that the quality of elders/pastors is so determinative on the well being and spiritual growth of the church of God.  Whenever Paul and his colleagues visited cities and founded churches, one of the works they did was to appoint the elders to look after the churches of God as undersheperds (Acts 14:23).  1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 give us a list of qualification for elders and deacons.  One thing we need to remember is that before a man is appointed as an elder, he must show all of God’s qualifications that are given in those verses.  In other words, we are not choosing a man to be a pastor/elder because we think that he has a potential or because we believe that he will be a good pastor/elder, but because we firmly believe that he has shown those qualifications.  Of course, we are not talking about their perfection in those qualifications, but about all the signs and indications meeting those qualifications even certain degrees.


The first matter we need to consider from the elder’s qualifications is the level of his maturity.  1 Timothy 3:6 says, “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.”  A novice must be referring to a new convert.  He must have marks of a person who has grown in Christ.  By all means his growth and testimonies in Christ Jesus must have been observed by people both in and out of the church of God.  We need to read verse 7, “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”  Second. We need to consider his moral qualities.  Today, the church has lost its distinctiveness because, far too often, you can’t tell believers from unbelievers.  However, the nominees of elders/pastors must have Christian values, priorities, pursuits, and godly character above any reproach.  They also need to show examples to follow.


The first qualification to be an elder is a desire he has.  Desire in 1 Timothy 3:1 means “to stretch one's self out in order to touch or to grasp something, to reach after or desire something.”  This desire is something that drives or motivates a person.  This desire must be differentiated from any worldly ambition that seeks position, praise, power, prestige, or popularity.  We ought to remember what Baruch said in Jeremiah 45:5a, “And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not.  The biblical desire to be an elder is a desire to exalt God and to edify the church of God.  Of course, desire to bring souls to Christ Jesus cannot be missed out.  Verse 1 ends with “he desireth a good work.  It means, “it is a fine work he desires to do.”  Therefore, his desire is not for position but for work.  Pastor’s/elder’s desire has to be on the work he will do for God and His church.  Oswald Sanders, in his classic book on leadership entitled Spiritual Leadership, has some fitting remarks: “The true spiritual leader is concerned infinitely more with the service he can render God and his fellowmen than with the benefits and pleasures he can extract from life. He aims to put more into life than he takes out of it.”


The second qualification is his blameless life.  As soon as I say it, some people may say, “who can ever truly be qualified?  Who can completely fulfil all these qualifications?”  Some people may even shrink back from what could be God’s will when they very well may be qualified.  Here we need to admit that no one is perfect.

Every one of us has plenty of room and need for more growth and change.  Every one of us has come short of the glory of God.  Paradoxically, this particular qualification is ever a reminder that every pastor/elder will always have room for improvement and growth in the qualities mentioned in these passages.  At the same time, it gives us general ideas about elder’s character and maturity.  He shows clearly distinguishable characteristics mentioned in 1 Timothy 3, but there will be room for growth and times when he may fall short.  He shows Christlikeness, and at the same time he shows his continuing potential growth. 


Here we may raise a question about any election choosing disqualified people to be the leaders of God’s church.  Of course, it is a fearful thought that any church has such leaders whom God may not approve.  If a church wants to choose such people, what is going to happen to her?  May I borrow wisdom from Oswald Sanders?  He said, “The Holy spirit does not take control of any man or body of men against their will.  When He sees elected to positions of leadership, men who lack spiritual fitness to cooperate with Him, He quietly withdraws and leaves them to implement their own policy according to their own standards, but without His aid.  The inevitable issue is an unspiritual administration.”  Whatever we sow, we shall reap.  That’s why we ought to be careful when we nominate anyone for a church office.  Especially, the office for pastors and elders are extremely important to the health of the church and the wellbeing of the believers.  Another election for a new Session is coming nearer.  Please pray for pastor, elder, and deacons.  I’ll continue on this topic in two weeks time.  May the Lord bless Hope church with godly and spiritual leaders!



Your Pastor


More Lively Hope




· Congratulatory message & warm greetings for our 21st Anniversary Thanksgiving from:

Bro David Chua (KL).

· Budget 07-08 proposals to be submitted to Church Treasurer, Dn Tan, by next Lord’s Day.

· All reports for ACM from fellowship groups, committees and ministries to be submitted to the Clerk of Session, Dn D’Mello, by 8 Jul.

· Warm Welcome to Rev James White to our pulpit.

Looking Ahead:

1. Baptism, Confirmation & Transfer of membership on 1 July.

2. Vacation Bible School, 17-21 July. Speaker: Bro Gabriel Lee.

3. ACM & Session Election on Sat, 28 July. All members expected to attend.

Praise & Thanksgiving:

1. Journey mercies -  Ps Ki (S’pore); Dn Edwin D’Mello (Brisbane); Mr & Mrs Lawrence Tan & Bro Jason Tan (Tas), Bro Jan Bennik (Holland); Mr & Mrs Hwa Hin (Penang), Sisters Joyce Gong, Ann Gie Ho & Alice Lee; Mrs Margaret Wah & Miss Joyce Ng (Adl); Sis Mariam Atijatuporn’s mother (Thailand); others who have arrived safely at their destinations.

2. Completion of Sunday School Teachers’ Training Course; & Church activities over past week.

3. Sis Shu Ai Cho’s quick recovery from surgery.


Prayer Items:

1. Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, & Winston Selvanayagam; Sisters Mariam Atijatuporn, Shu Ai Cho, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Aranka Rejtoe, Chrisanthi Selvanayagam, Juanita Tong, Susan Veradi, & Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; Auntie Oei & others in affliction.

2. Pastor Ki’s ministry - Camp Speaker at Calvary Jurong B-P Church Family Bible Camp.

3. Cambodia Missions - Rev Luke Kim (Veal Renh); Bro Samnang & Sis Shulamy.

4. Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam.

5. India/Pakistan Missions - Pastors & Believers.

6. Kuching Missions - Teo family.

7. Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim (South East Asia).

8. Journey Mercies - Dn Edwin D’Mello; Mr & Mrs Lawrence Tan & Bro Jason Tan (Adl); Sisters Connie Mak (HK/Canada); Gillian Ong (Adl); Bro Hai Seng Lim (Missions) & all those travelling this week.

9. Jobs: Sisters Nikki Ching, Gillian Ong, Juanita Tong & Mag Yu.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041