Qualify The Members
In a recent article, I named some things necessary to having the right man in a congregation appointed to the eldership. I stressed the need of knowng the attitude which will be manifested by those who are selected as elders. These points will help any congregation in getting the right man. If he fills the requirements of the scripture, he will be the right man of course.
However, in this article, I want to show that it is just as important to qualify the membership for the eldership as it is the men to serve. This point is overlooked so much that very few attend to this part of instruction and fail to show the members why they must have the proper respect and attitude toward the eldership. Many times churches are unable to appoint elders when they should because the members will not humble, themselves enough to work under the leadership of Godly men who are scripturally able to serve. It could be that certain ones are "running things" as they are and they know if elders are selected, they will lose control of the congregation. Of course these things are not stated in so many words but it is usually hidden in a fight over the qualifications and by so doing, block the appointing on the grounds that we really and truly want elders but don't have anybody qualified!
Then there are those who hold to the idea that no one can qualify in these days but rather than come right out and take such a stand, they search out ways to stall the appointment of elders. This way they are not classified as "anti-elder" but still they get to control things themselves. This is probably more widely practiced than most of us care to admit.
Another type of person who needs to be taught about God's plans for the local congregation is the fellow that will never be able to equip himself for services as an elder because of his past life. He will do everything possible to block the selection of bishops because he will lose some of the strength he has to work behind the scenes and control the business meetings of the congregation. This kind of fellow will always object to the person selected because it will curtail his authority if such happens.
Some congregations have failed to install elders as God would have them do because the affairs are being run by some sister and to have elders would tear up the play house for sure. This is sometimes handled by starting some gossip on the men who are working hard to do God's bidding by qualifying themselves and by so doing, ruin the reputation of those who should be the overseers of the flock. Yes, we need to preach more on qualifying the members of the church to take their place in God's plan by equipping themselves to serve in the capacity that God wants.
"Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they must give an account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." (Heb. 13:17.) This clearly teaches that we are to obey them which have the rule over us and to submit ourselves to them. It is a pleasure to submit to a Godly eldership in the activities of the Master. If the elders are qualified as the scriptures demand, then we see the church work and grow as God would have it to do in all things. Peace and harmony will be the rule rather than the exception. We must teach members of the Lord's body that he expects his children to submit to his will.
Hardhearted Christians who are self-centered and have the desire to rule or ruin, may be able to "pull the wool" over the eyes of some of the other members but God knows your motive and will reward accordingly With a qualified membership and also a qualified eldership to lead and to guide, there is no way to stop the progress of the church as it goes on in the work of the Master. Surely, God's way is the best. Let us work to make it the success that God wants, yea demands! If we all work together as we should, the church will meet with such success that those who claim the church can't do thus and so will be able to see a great demonstration of God's way in doing all that is rightfully hers to do. The ways of the world will be shown for what it is. Let us strive to qualify ourselves for what there is to do. Whether it be service as an elder, deacon or in some other area of service to God.