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Church members are called to honor, love and respect their elders (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:12–13; 1 Timothy 5:1). The Scriptures even call members to obey and submit to elders’ teaching and leadership (Hebrews 13:17).
In this post, I want to consider a church member’s responsibility to hold elders accountable. The first area concerns what they teach, and the second area involves how they live (and lead). Paul’s exhortation to Timothy comes to mind: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). Finally, I’ll conclude by remembering the precious commodity of trust in a healthy congregation.
Elders - Qualifications - Timothy - Titus - Peter
When considering elders’ qualifications, we notice how surprisingly ordinary they are (1 Timothy 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9; 1 Peter 5:1–4). In fact, apart from the stipulation that elders are “able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2), they’re largely made up of what’s expected of all mature Christians.
Simply put, an elder’s life should be characterized by maturity. Being “above reproach” (v.2) communicates not the need for perfection, but rather a mature progress in godliness that’s free from ongoing sins that would undermine his ministry.
Watch - Church - Members - Investigators - Elders
But what do we mean by “watch”? It would be unhealthy if church members functioned as investigators, deputized to walk behind their elders and look for potential reasons to remove them. This is not the type of watching the Bible commands. Instead, the context for watching is built into the church so that members learn and are instructed by their elders’ manner of life.
Consider the author of Hebrews: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7).
Examples - Leader - Life
There are many other examples where the leader’s life is to serve as an...
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