"Why all this focus on elders and their character? Because in the church, God’s glory is displayed and God’s people are edified through qualified elders. For that to happen, godly character is essential. Pastors aren’t perfect men, but they should be holy men (James 3:2)." - 9 Marks
"Elders rule in two ways. They lead by example, and they lead by preaching and teaching. As part of their teaching they may rebuke, reprove, and exhort, but they are still teaching. They are not enforcing their decisions upon congregations." - Proclaim & Defend
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.
A.W. Tozer wrote,
O God, let me die rather than to go on day by day living wrong. I do not want to become a careless, fleshly old man. I want to be right so that I can die right! Lord, I do not want my life to be extended if it would mean that I should cease to live right and fail in my mission to glorify you all of my days!4
I find this would be the desire of most of the senior saints in our churches, but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. As they often say, “growing old isn’t for sissies.”
First of all, don’t give up! The apostle Paul told us to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). Our senior years are that last quarter of the race where the finish line is in sight, and though the strength is waning fast, we must keep looking unto Jesus Who is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). Scripture exalts the worthiness of the senior years, and our generation needs us even if they don’t realize it.
From Faith Pulpit, used with permission.
If you have ever heard someone say, “You just had to have been there,” or, “Hindsight is so much better than foresight,” then you are also hearing what senior saints often think in the church. No one knows how seniors think or feel until they’ve become one, and no one sees from their perspective until they’ve been a senior themselves. I turned 67 this year and only feel that I’m beginning to understand what many of these great saints are saying.
The seniors in our churches were the baby boomers of the post-war years. The Pew Research group says that they are now 28% of evangelical church attendance and make up about one-third of the total population. They also find that boomers don’t consider themselves “old” until at least age 72. On June 1, 2011, it is estimated that 10,000 boomers turned 65, and the trends show they are returning to church faster than other demographic groups. I would say that the percentage of seniors in our fundamental Baptist churches is higher than the national average.