Working for a Fortune 500 company, I have seen the need for leadership to ensure the organization is focused and on course. The same is true for the best organization in the worldthe Lord's church. One of the major reasons cited for a company's bankruptcy is the lack of sound leadership. One wonders at the state of congregations of Christ due to the lack of sound leadership. A word of cautionthe leadership to run a Fortune 500 company is not the same as the leadership to shepherd the Lord's church.
I have experienced the effects of sound and unsound leadership among churches. Choosing sound leaderships is critical. The Lord intends for congregations to have shepherdsbiblical shepherds. It is my opinion that some congregations have suffered from unqualified men serving as elders to the point that they have become sour on the eldership as a whole. While it is true that it is better to have no eldership than to have an unscriptural one, it is not God's plan for churches to go without the leadership provided by qualified elders. Possibly, one of the reasons elders are called "shepherds" is to understand that the danger of not having elders is similar to the danger for sheep not to have shepherds to guide and protect them. I serve as a deacon in the congregation where we worship. There was a time when the congregation did not have elders, so the men did the best they could. Today, the congregation is stronger, and tensions are less due to the fruits of the search for elders. The effort was laborious but worth every minute. While we may not get our way all the time, I have never heard anyone express a desire to return to the period before elders were appointed!
All of the qualifications for the eldership are important and vital for our study. I have heard of congregations glossing over one of the qualifications to their regret. Do not make this mistake. The Lord did not provide these qualifications for us to minimize or disregard! This book, The Elders Which Are Among You, is divided into chapters where each qualification is discussed at length. There are also important chapters on the relationship between the elders, the preacher, and the congregation.
There are many wise points in this book for all to consider. For example, writing about "Desire the Office" brother Duncan shows the selection process is not a political campaign where the candidate has to introduce himself for consideration: "How does one ... become an elder in the Lord's church? Certainly not in the same way one might seek some political office by campaigning for the office. One who would do such likely is demonstrating by that very act that he is not the kind of man needed in the eldership. In fact, one who has reached the point at which he is qualified to serve as an elder in a congregation will not have to call to the attention of the membership his qualifications; they will know about them already. When they are ready to select and install elders, this man will not be overlooked. One cannot possess the characteristics that would qualify him as an elder and yet possess them in secret for very long." (pp. 11-12).
This is an excellent book that should be read and studied by Christians. If we do not have men in congregations preparing themselves for the office James Garfield referred to as stepping down from and into the Presidency of the United States of America, then we need to be encouraging men and boys to prepare themselves for the highest level of service known to mankindshepherd of the Lord's church. -29 Flora Dr., Bedford, OH 44146-2011. DRKenney@email.com For previous book reviews, visit www.streetsborochurch.org
Return to West Virginia Christian