I’ve been meaning to summarize my thoughts on church government from I Timothy 3. Here is an incomplete list of things I’ve learned in no particular order of importance:
1. The problem in most churches isn’t a lack of leadership. Every church has leaders regardless of what they’re called. The problem is the character of the leaders. It’s not enough to call churches to appoint elders and it’s not enough to call men to step up and lead in churches. Paul says it is a good thing for a man to aspire to the office of elder but he couldn’t be clearer that ultimately elders must be above reproach.
2. Churches that don’t appoint godly leaders place themselves in the path of great danger. The elders are charged with protecting the flock (Acts 20:28-29) and feeding the flock. Ungodly elders can’t be trusted to do either.
3. The scriptures allow for great freedom regarding church government. We would do well to spend more time concerning ourselves with the character of our leaders and accountability then we do devising systems of government.
4. As I understand I Timothy 3, the elder should know his people and be known by them. This ought to have a significant influence on issues like multi-site churches. We also have to take this into consideration when we think about the size of our churches. At what point is a church too big or to spread out to allow a pastor to know and be known by his people?
5. ‘Everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.’ (Luke 6:40) People generally don’t rise above the spiritual level of their leadership. Nothing new here.
6. Allowing unqualified men to remain in positions of leadership is not patient or gracious. It is disobedient. These qualifications aren’t given to us as suggestions.
7. That being said, any man who says that he is a perfect representation of those qualifications should be immediately disqualified for either lying or pride. After 3 weeks in that chapter I can only run to Christ depending on Him to continue His work in me. Apart from Him I cannot be that man.
8. There is no “S” hidden under the dress shirt of an elder that stands for Super Christian. Except for “able to teach” all Christian men (and women) should be striving for these characteristics. We should be careful to set the bar high but not higher than God has set it.