Q&A: How to choose church leaders?

Welcome to Defender’s Voice. I am Dr.Paul. Thank you for joining us today. Please send me your questions to info@doctorpaul.org. Visit our website www.doctorpaul.org to subscribe to my podcast. We are discussing vital issues that challenge Christian faith. Today’s question if from our brother in Singapore. 

“Thank you for podcast which I always find very informative and biblically sound. I have learnt much and found answers to some topics that I had problem understanding. I have a question concerning church leadership which I hope you can provide some clarity.

The question is should leaders in the church be appointed by the leadership or their appointment must also be subjected to a congregational election process as well. What is the biblical pattern that a church can follow with respect to appointing leaders in the church ( Elders and Deacons for example). Thank you”

Thank you for this question. Hope you are doing well in Singapore. How to elect church leaders like pastors, elders and deacons? First of all, look for individuals with godly character. Today, churches like Hillsong have turned Christian churches into corporate offices. Who can attract more people? Who can build a megachurch? Who can raise millions of dollars? Who can bring celebrities into the church? Who looks attractive in front of a camera? Soon, you will hear that the pastor is having an affair with a woman. The pastor is visiting prostitutes. The pastor has been stealing money from God’s treasury. The youth pastor got hooked on drugs. The sunday school teacher has been watching pornography. We are choosing so many church leaders without godly character and no wonder we see so many scandals in the churches today. Contrary to the spirit of our times, the Bible demands godliness from church leaders. 

In 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Apostle Paul gave us some guidelines to follow when we choose our leaders. 

   Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 8 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 

First, understand the guidelines. Though these standards are expected from church leaders, they apply to all Christians. I am not a church leader, but God expects such standards even in my life. 

    A Church leader must be faithful to his wife. People who live in polygamy, or who live in fornication or adultery, do not quality to be a leader. An unmarried person can be a leader. A widowed person can be a leader. But they should not be having relationships in which they engage in extramarital sex. They should not be on tinder or Christianmingle seeking sexual relationships on a blind date. They should be temperate, self-controlled, hospitable, respectable, not given to drunkenness. Some people say you can drink alcohol but just not too much. But I advise you to stay away from alcohol completely. You might say, ‘I will drink in moderation’. You might. But some one who watches you drinking may not exercise such restraint. He would say, ‘My pastor is drinking, so I can drink’. ‘My pastor is smoking. So, I can smoke’. Apostle Paul wrote ‘All things are lawful for me’, but not all things are helpful. (1 Corinthians 6:12). Lots of things are legal, but they do not edify the body of Christ. He must manage his family well. His children should obey him. You should take time to spend with your children, to study the Bible with them, to pray with them, and to discipline them. Today we have so many homes without male leadership. This lack of leadership in Christian home is becoming a problem when we come together as a church. 

    You can also read Titus 1:5-9, where it says, an elder must be a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. They should be self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 

So, first look for these standards. Then starts the elimination process. Whoever does not meet these requirements, eliminate him from the leadership role or from considering him for a leadership role. When you find individuals who meet these standards, pray for them. Share the need with them. ‘We are looking for a church leader. You meet the requirements. Would you spend some time in prayer and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit?’ The Holy Spirit is still active in leading us to the right leaders. When we pray earnestly, He will help the church to find and appoint the right leaders for our churches. 

What standards should you require in a church leader? The Bible is clear on that question. How to elect such a leader? The Bible does not prescribe any method like election. In other words, finding someone with those standards is more important than how we choose that person. 

    A senior pastor can appoint a church leader.  Apostle Paul himself appointed church leaders in local assemblies. He found individuals like Timothy and gave them direct appointments to lead the churches. In the same way, in our time, senior leaders can choose individuals to lead the congregations. Congregations themselves can look for godly men in their congregation and appoint them to leadership positions. The Bible puts emphasis on the standards we must look for in our church leaders, not how we choose them. 

I hope I answered your question to some extent. Thank you. God bless you. 

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