The Bible prescribes that the church be led by a plurality of elders who are equal in authority and who are characterized by the following biblical qualifications (taken from 1 Timothy 3:1-7). Although every member of the church should aspire to these qualities – every man who serves on the elder board is required to have them. A man cannot become an elder at Grace unless he has first gone through a period of testing to determine if he is biblically qualified.
A man of holiness. The word means blameless, unrebukeable, so that no one can accuse this man of wrong doing and be correct. This does not mean that an elder never sins, but that when he does he is quick to repent and his sin is not such that it brings a permanent reproach upon his character.
The Husband of One Wife
A faithful husband. Literally, a “one woman man.” This is a man who is married to only one woman and has demonstrated ongoing faithfulness to her throughout his lifetime.
A clear thinker. The word means to be sober, vigilant, not easily swayed by outside influences, not caught off guard. Free from excessive influence of passion, lust, or emotion.
A man of wisdom. The word means sober, discreet, of sound mind, thus able to apply the truth of God in a timely manner to difficult situations (all situations). Having the mind of Christ. Quietly and carefully fulfilling the responsibilities given to him.
A model for others. The word means well arranged, model, of good behavior, orderly and exemplary conduct. One whom others can wholeheartedly follow.
A man who welcomes others. The word means, lover of strangers, generous to guests. One who loves to give of time and resources, especially to those who cannot benefit him directly.
Able to Teach
A skillful communicator of truth. The word means apt and skillful in teaching. He understands and delights in the profound truths of God’s Word and is able to clearly communicate them.
Not Addicted to Wine
Not controlled by wine or any substance. The word means, “one who sits long at wine,” or given to drunkenness. The elder does not yield control of his life to any substance – alcohol or drugs of any kind.
Not easily given to contention. The word means, “a striker” one who hits another with his fists. The elder is not quarrelsome, contentious, or ready for a fight – either verbally or physically.
A man of compassionate strength. The word means patient, fair, moderate, appropriate, yielding or forbearing. A quiet, compassionate, merciful strength characterizes the dealing of the elder in every situation.
A man who delights to bring resolution. The word means not contentious or abstaining from fighting. The elder is not simply someone who longs for peace, but a man who is willing to give of his time, gifts, and effort to see that peace becomes a reality.
Free from the Love of Money
A man who holds material things lightly. The elder must not be motivated by desire to acquire material wealth and possessions. This will render his judgment poor and his decisions suspect.
Must Manage His Own Household Well
A man who excels at family leadership. The term demands an effective exercise of authority in the home bolstered by a character of integrity and sensitive compassion. An elder should be excellent in discipline, always thinking about and executing effective ways to develop the discipline and obedience of his children. If an elder is not able to mange his family, he cannot be qualified to oversee the church family.
“Believing” Children – Titus 1:6
In Paul;’s epistle to Titus, he lists the qualifications for elders beginning in Titus 1:6. One of those qualifications is: “having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion” (NASB). Clarifying passage in 1 Timothy 3:4-5: “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)” 1 Ti 3:4-5 (NASB). Recognizing that there are good men on either side of the interpretive issue of “children who believe” versus “children who are faithful,” we agree to support the Grace Community Church position on this elder qualification as follows:
Concerning children in the home:
A man meets this qualification if his children:
a. Are believers in Christ and not given to dissipation or rebellion
b. Have not yet made a profession of faith but are trustworthy in behavior, that is, responsive to the authority of their parents (1 Tim 3:4-5)
A man does not meet this qualification if he has a child who:
a. Is a professing believer in Christ but not under control (1 Tim 3:4-5)
b. Is an unbeliever who openly professes rejection of Christ and/or is given to dissipation or rebellion
Concerning children no longer in the home:
A man meets this qualification if his children:
a. Are believers in Christ
b. Are Unbelievers yet do not destroy his good reputation with those in or outside the church (1 Tim 3:7)
A man does not meet this qualification if his children:
a. Destroy his good reputation with those within or outside the church (1 Tim 3:7)
This qualification, as all others, must be reviewed in the context of the total life and character of the man
Not a New Convert
Spiritually mature. The word literally means, “newly planted.” The elder must not be new in the faith but must be drawn from the most spiritually mature men in the congregation. This maturity will guard him from pride and keep him from falling into the trap of Satan.
Having a Good Reputation With Those Outside the Church
Without hypocrisy. The elder cannot lead a double life, but must have a good reputation both inside and outside the church. He must be known in the community for righteousness, moral character, love, kindness, generosity and goodness.