Posts Tagged ‘Frontier Missions’

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.