Posts Tagged ‘eldership’

Public Response to 2 Pertinent Comments

September 16, 2008

Recent comment:

“If a young man is permitted to plant a church and can do so effectively; and he is given responsibility to appoint men into eldership… How is it that the young man himself is not qualified for office of elder/pastor?”

This is a question that we are often asked, so we thought it would be helpful if we made a public response in the form of a blog post. 

We believe church planting is a viable ministry for young “Timothys”. We also encourage “Timothys” to wait for a different season of life to take up the office of elder/pastor. Many think that these two positions are in opposition to each other.

First, we need to make some qualifying remarks concerning church planting. We strongly endorse a mentored ministry approach to church planting, being sent out and in intentional accountability to the elders of a church. This will look different in different church planting contexts. A young Timothy being involved in pioneer missions (church planting overseas) will look different than a young Timothy being sent out to be involved in a church plant across town. In either case, we hope that while the Timothy will often be making day to day judgment calls, ultimately he is carrying out the wishes of his elders, acting as an arm of the local church he was sent from.

In a Pioneer church plant scenario it is more difficult for the elders to be active in the church plant. However, in a local church plant, there is opportunity for more hands on mentorship. The best option for either of these scenarios would be if the Timothy was a part of team that was accountable to the same elders.

For us it’s an issue of authority. When a young Timothy is sent out, he is operating with a commission from the local elders. He is like a Marine who has been commissioned by a commanding officer. Here is an example: If I tell my daughter to go tell her sister to come to the table because dinner is ready, her sister has to obey. Not because the daughter who I commissioned has authority, or is now qualified to be a parent, but because she carries my authority with her.

While we are planting a local church we may be exercising authority that is reserved for an elder, but we are operating as an arm of our local elders. Just as Timothy was operating under Paul’s authority in all he was doing.

Another related comment that was made:

“I suppose my suggestion is that the very case of Timothy-and many other mature and gifted young men-demonstrates that Paul’s regulations regarding elders has more to do with maturity and character than with meeting a certain age requirement.”

We agree. Age doesn’t have much intrinsic value regarding the qualifications for elder. Rather, gaining the necessary qualities of an elder takes time. One interesting thing to note is that an elder is expected to have believing children. The biblical writers assume that men who would be considered for eldership would be of the age that, if they have children, they are old enough to be “believing”. Again, it is not our quest to pick an arbitrary age and say, “anyone younger than this should not be an elder!” We are more than happy to concede that there may be young men out there who meet the qualifications for eldership. We praise God for that! However, as we face the text and examine our own lives, we know that we are in a different season of life. We are calling out to other young men to examine themselves in the light of God’s Word along with us, obeying their sense of call to the ministry while refusing to compromise the requirements of eldership.

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Mark Driscoll on Raising up “Timothys”

September 12, 2008

Mark Driscoll, in preparation for The Desiring God conference ’06, made some comments about his philosophy on training young leaders. Take a look.  We found it very helpful!

Mr. Driscoll brings up several good points:

– Be open to changing methodologies and styles in order to engage the culture, while never compromising biblical and theological principles. 

– Allow and give opportunity for younger men to lead in the church, or for them to plant a new church.

– If the church does not permit a space for gifted young men to lead, they will often leave. 

– Recognize the importance of young leaders arising from within the established local church.

Here is something we would expand on:

The raising up of younger men in the church does not often happen, and when it doesn’t, young men sometimes leave to plant a church… often with no oversight or accountability.  We agree with Mark Driscoll, and believe that church planting in the “Timothy” stage of life is a viable option. We also believe that the best way for church planting to be accomplished, is in a context of accountability to eldership.  A young man in his pre-eldership years needs help and guidance.  He needs to be submitted to church governance, especially if he is to undertake the work of church planting.  Successful church plants have been accomplished with little or no oversight, however, we believe that this is a less than ideal situation. 

A False Dichotomy: Submitting To Eldership and Forging New Ground

September 8, 2008

I just read a fascinating blog that has a wonderful challenge to us younger preacher types.

Ben Pfahlert, on the Sola Panel Website, writes a piece called Mark Driscoll Rolls Grenade Down Aisle. In it, he describes Mark Driscoll’s recent message to 600 church leaders, mainly Anglicans, in Australia, entitled Eighteen obstacles to effective evangelism in Australia. Pfahlert enumerates how Driscoll, in typical Driscoll style, courageously adresses problems in the Evangelical Church in Australia. There is an emphasis on how Driscoll analysis is very accurate, theologically sound, and needs to be acted upon. All of this was well and good, but it was the last paragraph that really convicted me. Pfahlert writes:

The big challenge now is to do something about it. Despite the accuracy of the diagnosis—despite the difficulty of facing up to our evangelical foibles—I want us all to remember one thing: (actually, blokes under 40, I want us to remember one thing!) Driscoll’s diagnosis may be accurate and his critiques timely and poignant, but we must remember one thing! And that is to honour our elders as per 1 Timothy 5:1. It’s a lot easier being a Christian now than it was in the 60’s and 70’s. They fought some very tough battles. Our challenge is to kick forward from here on in, making the most of the ground our elders won.

I’ve been searching around on some blog posts, and there appear to be more than a few who agree with Driscoll’s assessment. It seems like, as ususal, he brought a much needed rebuke.

It is at these times, when we realize, that the Church has done wrong, when we need wisdom on how to honor our elders and still forge new ground. Pfahlert hits the nail on the head! He remembers the battles that the Evangelical Church has fought the past 50 years, especially in Australia, and respects the progress his elders have made for the Kingdom of God. He honors them, while not being ignorant to their errors. He wants to press forward on the foundation they laid, supporting them in their ministry, and exhorting them as fathers to continue to take ground for God’s Church and His Kingdom. Praise God for this reminder. There can be a temptation when we are being critical of the current status of the Church to rebel against the leaders rather than support them. Let us take the most God honoring route, and do everything we can in our pre-eldership days to help our elders be the best elders they can be! For God and His glory!