Written and contributed by brother Earl Sutton
The inspired record says that Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in “every church” on their first missionary journey (Acts 14:23), and Paul left Titus in Crete for the same purpose (Titus 1:5). Should the organization of the church today be exactly as it was in New Testament days? There are many congregations of the Lord’s church in our county that do not have elders and have not made any serious effort to appoint them as taught in I Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, and I Peter 5:1-4.
God wisely planned for church government to be congregational in form, so that each congregation could tend to its own business. Also, God gave elders the responsibility and the authority to decide matters of expediency for the local congregation AND NOT BUSINESS MEETINGS! Obviously, in matters of faith every church must conform to the Bible.
To accept the outcome of business meetings instead of the decision of elders is trashing Biblical Authority! Someone may object by saying that we have qualified men to serve as elders, but they have no leadership skills. My response would be that one can be trained and does not have to be a Christian for a long length of time before he can become an elder if he fits the qualifications. The fact that elders must not be a novice indicates some length of time, but within a five to ten year period is reasonable. When congregations put “men’s business meetings” as being more important than appointing elders over ten to twenty year period of time, it begs the question, “Why are God’s rules so important?”
We must remember that substituting something for what the Bible plainly teaches is disobedience. The idea that something else for what God has commanded will do as well is a fatal idea even for Christians.
Cain found out the hard way that substituting was wrong (Gen. 4:3). We must remember that Moses only committed one act of disobedience, and God would not permit him to enter earthly Canaan (Numbers 20:12). The lesson for us is that one sin (substituting business meetings for elders) can keep us out of heaven!
I will help any congregation train qualified men with leadership principles to meet Biblical standards.