One of the perennial challenges that face congregations and the leaders that lead them is the question of how to add individuals to either the elder team or the deacon team. Challenges abound. If congregations are not very careful, they run the risk of leading the church in either one of two directions. The first is a kind of oligarchy where only a select few could ever be elected, even if there is a larger pool of available individuals that could be selected from.
In this first scenario the major concern is not, “Who is biblically qualified?” but rather, “Who will be blindly loyal to the few leaders who have always controlled the congregation?” In this first extreme the leadership of the church has a total “lock-down” control of the church-life.
The second, equally bad, approach is found in churches where the leadership has absolutely no control over the process of electing leaders. In this second extreme, the leadership is under the control of a hyper-congregational “pure democracy.”
In seeking a biblical answer to the extremes, today’s leaders face a challenge in the area of biblical interpretation. There are occasions when the Apostle Paul simply appointed or had one of his apostolic representatives “appoint” elders or leaders (example – Titus 1:5). The question here is, “Is there any sense in which that practice can be adopted by church leaders today?” (Paul was an apostle – we are not!) The answer is yes … and no.