“…appoint elders…” – Titus 1:5
The mistake I have most consistently repeated in planting churches is poor selection of my first set of Elders. This has dogged me for decades. It was not so much bad judgment as it was a paucity of available men who possessed the necessary qualities.
I have never had a set of Elders who possessed all of the listed qualities in Timothy and Titus. What to do? Use the best men you have – those who have the most number of the listed traits. The first listed quality is, “above reproach” (blameless). I’m still waiting for one of these to come along. In fact after some self examination there are a few items on the list where my own qualifications are in question.
So I have come up with a formula… Use the men who have the most number of Paul’s qualifications coupled with some common sense qualities.
- Devotional Intensity. I became a Christian at age 23 and had never seen the inside of a Bible, so I began reading 50 chapters per day – praying as I read. It took me about three hours. Now, 41 years later, I still keep a vigorous reading schedule. I’m convinced if a man will do this un-coerced, this alone will place him at the front of the line for a position on your leadership team.
- Loyalty. I want a guy who would run into a burning house for me. One who would never speak ill of me (or my family). One who fully owns my vision and is a true partner in the ministry.
- Zeal. You can’t teach this. But it is commanded. “Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be done with zeal…” (Ezra 7:23) Passionate men are critical to the administration of a church. Seek them out and develop them.
- Proficiency. This is last because it is the trait that is most easily imparted from without. You can teach a man to be proficient in many areas of ministry. If he lacks the first three he may not be worth training.