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Thread: Qualification for being an Elder

  1. #1
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    Qualification for being an Elder

    In Titus, it says:

    "This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." Titus 1:5*-‬9

    How do people understand the phrase 'and his children are believers'?

    Is this to mean that a man can only qualify for being an Elder is his children believe. If so, what are the implications for this view? Is he not qualified until all his children believe? What happens if he has no children, is an Elder, then he father's a child... Dues he step down until the child believes?

    Or is it meaning something subtly different which is not expressed well in our English translation?

    Matthew

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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    Quote Originally Posted by matthewhenry View Post
    In Titus, it says:

    "This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." Titus 1:5*-‬9

    How do people understand the phrase 'and his children are believers'?

    Is this to mean that a man can only qualify for being an Elder is his children believe. If so, what are the implications for this view? Is he not qualified until all his children believe? What happens if he has no children, is an Elder, then he father's a child... Dues he step down until the child believes?

    Or is it meaning something subtly different which is not expressed well in our English translation?

    Matthew
    An elder is in charge of the household of Christ. If He can't control his own household, how can he be in charge of God's household? The point is look at the fruit of an elder before you elect him.

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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    Kalahari

    I agree with you. However, it's one thing having children who are respectful to their parents etc, another to have children who believe. It's not in the gift of parents to 'make' their children believe.

    I know of parents who provided a loving, stable God-centred home, but some of their children didn't believe.

    Matthew

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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    Quote Originally Posted by matthewhenry View Post
    Kalahari

    I agree with you. However, it's one thing having children who are respectful to their parents etc, another to have children who believe. It's not in the gift of parents to 'make' their children believe.

    I know of parents who provided a loving, stable God-centred home, but some of their children didn't believe.

    Matthew
    One would look at each individual case. Are the children still in the house or not? Why are they not believers? Is it because of no teaching at home, wrong friends? The answer to such questions would lead one if you are fit to be an elder or not. Do you have an specific example you like to discuss?

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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    I know of someone who holds to the view fairly rigidly that until all his children are saved he will not be an Elder. From observation he fulfils the qualities of an Elder and it's fairly obvious (to me at least) that he has been raised up by God to be an Elder in the church he is part of.

    I think that church suffers as a consequence.

    More generally, I was keen to see how others viewed the passage in Titus.

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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    Quote Originally Posted by matthewhenry View Post
    I know of someone who holds to the view fairly rigidly that until all his children are saved he will not be an Elder. From observation he fulfils the qualities of an Elder and it's fairly obvious (to me at least) that he has been raised up by God to be an Elder in the church he is part of.

    I think that church suffers as a consequence.

    More generally, I was keen to see how others viewed the passage in Titus.
    I would say that if your children are still under your care and they are openly not believers that it would hold you from being an elder. If they are adults and not under your care, then it would not be something to hold you back IMO. Secondly if he is unsure he must reveal it to the congregation so if they know about it they can object to him being an elder, but if they approve then he can't use it as an excuse. Still if one do not do it with a pure heart, one must not become an elder.

    I had the same questions just with different circumstances of being the ruler of your household.

    God bless.

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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    Matthew,

    If you read the whole chapter it is clear he was concerned about false teachers who were having a negative impact in their homes which was spilling into church v.11. To avoid those pitfalls he was giving the guidelines of an effective leader in v.5-9.

    Regarding children and their position with Christ; my understanding is that as parents we are required to take them to Christ (Mathew 19:14) whenever possible (church, family prayer, bible study, songs, videos, etc.) & not to irritate them Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21. These are the two explicit commands regarding children in the NT. It is up to the children to believe and accept Jesus as their Savior. We don't know when that will happen until they have a born again experience which can be a single day revelatory moment or months of gradual acceptance. So one cannot wait for that to happen while an inner urge is there to become an elder of a church.
    Last edited by breadfirst; Apr 21st 2017 at 11:09 AM. Reason: grammar

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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    Quote Originally Posted by matthewhenry View Post
    I know of someone who holds to the view fairly rigidly that until all his children are saved he will not be an Elder. From observation he fulfils the qualities of an Elder and it's fairly obvious (to me at least) that he has been raised up by God to be an Elder in the church he is part of.

    I think that church suffers as a consequence.

    More generally, I was keen to see how others viewed the passage in Titus.
    The decisions on these issues fall on the existing elders (if they exist) or the group chosen for selecting the elders. I would say if someone feels disqualified based on their own interpretation of scripture, they should not be compelled or persuaded against their conscience by others to 'fill a need', because God will always provide if the church is after His heart. I know this first hand as someone who has remarried and thus feel disqualified based on my understanding of the reuqirement 'husband of one wife'.

    Regarding the believing children requirement: I hold to the scripture of 'you will know them by their fruit', and while we aren't guaranteed to have believing children, the bible does say "train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it". Having been on an elder selection board before, I interpret this scripture to mean if your children are not following Christ, God is not ready for you to lead his flock. I also believe a man without children is not qualified to be an elder, as so many leadership values are obtained in managing a family.

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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    Quote Originally Posted by stoomart View Post
    The decisions on these issues fall on the existing elders (if they exist) or the group chosen for selecting the elders. I would say if someone feels disqualified based on their own interpretation of scripture, they should not be compelled or persuaded against their conscience by others to 'fill a need', because God will always provide if the church is after His heart. I know this first hand as someone who has remarried and thus feel disqualified based on my understanding of the reuqirement 'husband of one wife'.

    Stoomart,

    Regarding the believing children requirement: I hold to the scripture of 'you will know them by their fruit', and while we aren't guaranteed to have believing children, the bible does say "train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it". Having been on an elder selection board before, I interpret this scripture to mean if your children are not following Christ, God is not ready for you to lead his flock. I also believe a man without children is not qualified to be an elder, as so many leadership values are obtained in managing a family.
    Stoomart,

    Concerning "I also believe a man without children is not qualified to be an elder, as so many leadership values are obtained in managing a family", I don't see any biblical reference to that. Jesus and Paul were unmarried yet they had leadership values that were unique and different from those that married. Paul states it so clearly in 1 Cor 7:8-9.

    Regarding your comment "I interpret this scripture to mean if your children are not following Christ, God is not ready for you to lead his flock", again it would be helpful to all to read 1 Tim 3:2 "keeping his children under control with all dignity (NASB)". So in principle we can take away two things. 1)Neither of the list is exhaustive and 2)Paul's intention is to ensure false teachers are not appointed as they were causing grief to so many families.

    I believe what Paul is saying in Titus and Timothy is that an elder has good control over his life may it be children, alcohol, money, etc. If he does he is going to excel in church leadership.

  10. #10
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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    Quote Originally Posted by breadfirst View Post
    Stoomart,

    Concerning "I also believe a man without children is not qualified to be an elder, as so many leadership values are obtained in managing a family", I don't see any biblical reference to that. Jesus and Paul were unmarried yet they had leadership values that were unique and different from those that married. Paul states it so clearly in 1 Cor 7:8-9.

    Regarding your comment "I interpret this scripture to mean if your children are not following Christ, God is not ready for you to lead his flock", again it would be helpful to all to read 1 Tim 3:2 "keeping his children under control with all dignity (NASB)". So in principle we can take away two things. 1)Neither of the list is exhaustive and 2)Paul's intention is to ensure false teachers are not appointed as they were causing grief to so many families.

    I believe what Paul is saying in Titus and Timothy is that an elder has good control over his life may it be children, alcohol, money, etc. If he does he is going to excel in church leadership.
    I understand my interpretations are on the strict side, but they are based on verse 5, which I believe puts particular emphasis on family and not just false teaching:

    (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)

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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    Quote Originally Posted by matthewhenry View Post
    In Titus, it says:

    "This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." Titus 1:5*-‬9

    How do people understand the phrase 'and his children are believers'?

    Is this to mean that a man can only qualify for being an Elder is his children believe. If so, what are the implications for this view? Is he not qualified until all his children believe? What happens if he has no children, is an Elder, then he father's a child... Dues he step down until the child believes?

    Or is it meaning something subtly different which is not expressed well in our English translation?

    Matthew
    A person does not qualify to be an "Elder" if he has no children, because he has no children to believe. So your question (bolded above) is moot. You could never have a valid Elder who had no children. And the passage covers both upbringing and education, because the children must believe and not be open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.

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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    Dear Matthew,

    With all due respect to others on the thread I find it unbiblical to impose one criteria of having children to qualify for being an elder. If that is the case two leaders that I know who are doing outstanding work in their field as church leaders would need to quit. One has a mentally ill child and other have no children. Neither of them would fit the criteria set by some of the forum members on this thread. Yet they have been more effective than elders who are married.

    I am not putting down married elders vs. unmarried; rather, what I am saying God has a place for all of them. I believe the guiding principles of an elder are:

    1)Having good control over the things Paul describes in Titus and Timothy which I discussed earlier and as I said before the list is not exhaustive
    2)Love, love, love, love for others....can't emphasize that any more
    3)Patience to listen
    4)Compassion - not just sympathize but empathize
    5)Commitment - getting the job done despite the ungratefulness
    6)Humility - recognize that it is a great privilege to be chosen as an elder
    7)Optional - married, with and without children, ex-convict, former drug peddler, etc.

    The optional attribute may help when it comes to counseling or relate to others facing issues/challenges that they have experienced but it cannot be set as a criteria. Ultimately the top 6 along with God's grace is more than enough to deal with any situation. Unfortunately such elders are very small in number. They don't have time, or they run the church like a corporation, the emotions are kept at bay, and it looks more like an institution than a place where they can find refuge in Christ.

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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    Quote Originally Posted by breadfirst View Post
    Dear Matthew,

    With all due respect to others on the thread I find it unbiblical to impose one criteria of having children to qualify for being an elder. If that is the case two leaders that I know who are doing outstanding work in their field as church leaders would need to quit. One has a mentally ill child and other have no children. Neither of them would fit the criteria set by some of the forum members on this thread. Yet they have been more effective than elders who are married.

    I am not putting down married elders vs. unmarried; rather, what I am saying God has a place for all of them. I believe the guiding principles of an elder are:

    1)Having good control over the things Paul describes in Titus and Timothy which I discussed earlier and as I said before the list is not exhaustive
    2)Love, love, love, love for others....can't emphasize that any more
    3)Patience to listen
    4)Compassion - not just sympathize but empathize
    5)Commitment - getting the job done despite the ungratefulness
    6)Humility - recognize that it is a great privilege to be chosen as an elder
    7)Optional - married, with and without children, ex-convict, former drug peddler, etc.

    The optional attribute may help when it comes to counseling or relate to others facing issues/challenges that they have experienced but it cannot be set as a criteria. Ultimately the top 6 along with God's grace is more than enough to deal with any situation. Unfortunately such elders are very small in number. They don't have time, or they run the church like a corporation, the emotions are kept at bay, and it looks more like an institution than a place where they can find refuge in Christ.
    Breadfirst, if these were my conditions for this position of leadership and authority in the Church, then they would be open for discussion and debate. However, these are not my qualifications, but GOD's. HE is the one who set the qualifications, and only HE is in a position to change or alter them.

    Titus 1:5-9 says, "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict."

    1 Tim 3:1-7 says, "This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."

    These are GOD's commands for the men who will oversee His Church. I see no where in any of these qualifications where it says any of it is "optional". As a matter of fact, Paul in Timothy makes the point that if a man cannot rule his own house (and raise believing children who obey and are submissive to their parents) how can he be expected to properly manage the Church of God? Thus, having believing, obedient children is one of the more important qualifications.

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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    May I pose a hypothetical but entirely plausible scenario, and I welcome people's thoughts.

    A married man, meeting all the qualifications mentioned earlier in this thread, is recognised as an Elder in a church. He has several children, all of which profess to be saved, and live good lives and are part of the church. One day his daughter announces she no longer believes.

    Does he now stand down as an Elder?

    Discuss

    Btw, can apply equally to a son

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    Re: Qualification for being an Elder

    Quote Originally Posted by matthewhenry View Post
    May I pose a hypothetical but entirely plausible scenario, and I welcome people's thoughts.

    A married man, meeting all the qualifications mentioned earlier in this thread, is recognised as an Elder in a church. He has several children, all of which profess to be saved, and live good lives and are part of the church. One day his daughter announces she no longer believes.

    Does he now stand down as an Elder?

    Discuss

    Btw, can apply equally to a son
    I would have to say that he should step down. This is not anything against him as a man or as a father, but he no longer fits the qualifications of having faithful, obedient children. I think the passage means that if he has 3 children and 2 believe but 1 does not, he does not qualify to be an elder.

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