Vol.V No.I Pg.7
March 1968

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Will you please comment on the practice of all men of a local church meeting with the elders in regular "business meetings."


Brethren who work together (collectively) must have some means of establishing a "common mind," and a "meeting to facilitate business" usually involves discussion, proposals, and decisions regarding this business. (We are here concerned only with matters of human judgement, since "the faith" has been "once delivered" by inspiration.)

It is my conviction that God intended these decisions should be made by mature men, strong in the faith, respected, and accepted by the congregation as qualified to oversee. (Heb. 13:17; 1 Tim. 3:1-f. Titus 1:5-f) You need not tell me they can not "rule arbitrarily" "as do the Gentiles" or "make laws that become the will of God," for I know that. (1 Pet. 5:1-4) Nor can you rightly say they have no more right to deal with material matters than do other members. (Acts 11:30) It is equally foolish to declare "decision making" is wrong, for such decisions as we have under consideration must be made; and it is only a question as to whether the elders, some "Diotrephes," or "majority rule" make them.

I am also aware that God has something more for elders to do than decide on the time of services, or what color to paint the building. They are to "watch for our souls" -- a sacred trust indeed -- but one which does not alter their responsibility in the field we have under study.

Now, should the men of the church meet regularly with the elders? To do what? To make decisions? To allow the novice and least qualified men of the church to have equal place and "vote" with the qualified elders in this phase of their work? If so, I can see no sense in searching out and appointing qualified men to this work.

But should not the elders consult with, and appraise all members of the congregation of their collective progress and problems? Certainly so -- as this is THEIR progress and problems. Periodically the whole church should be called together for this very purpose; and men of the church may be asked to meet with the elders as the nature of the "business" demands. But I am dealing with the idea that elder meetings are also "all men" meetings; and brethren, I do not believe it.

I am fully aware that sometimes the elders overstep their place, and act as though they thought their word was law and gospel in all things. But qualified elders are far less likely to do this than are politicking members who will talk up a case, get a "majority" of unlearned men to back them, and "take over" the "business meetings" for their own purpose. Any how, we are discussing a principle of church business, not abuses in it. And preachers who deny that there is a "church" with "business" seem to manage very well in running the business of the church, once they over-power and eject the elders. BEWARE!!