Our ultimate authority in all things is Christ. He is the “head over all things to the church, which is His body” (Ephesians 1:22-23). Christ Himself said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). The things we do and teach must be done by His authority. Colossians 3:17 is clear on this point: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Within the local congregation, men who meet certain qualifications have been given authority to make decisions on how to carry out the Lord’s work at the local level. These men may be called:

  • Overseers (Acts 20:28)
  • the presbytery (1 Timothy 4:14 KJV)
  • Bishops (1 Timothy 3:1)
  • Elders (1 Peter 5:1)
  • Pastors (Ephesians 4:11)
  • Shepherds (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2-3)

Not just anyone can be an elder in the Lord’s church. The Spirit inspired Paul to record some very specific requirements to serve as an elder. Those qualifications are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.

It could be said that most of these qualifications should describe the character of typical Christian man. They are qualities to be desired. There are, however, a few traits that not every man meets—being the husband of one wife (some are not married at all), having faithful children (some husbands and wives lead fulfilling lives without children), and being “not a novice” (some men are simply not old enough in the faith to qualify as an elder, at least not yet).

The elders have the authority to determine expediencies that best suit the congregation as a whole: what time the church meets to worship, how funds are distributed, and the order of the worship service, for instance. As long as their decisions do not violate the revealed Word, the decisions they make are to be obeyed by the congregation (Hebrews 13:7,17). The elders also have the serious task of ensuring sound doctrine is taught (Titus 1:10-11).

This is an important role for qualified men and is not a task that should be taken lightly. The church in Grant County does not currently have men serving as elders, but we look forward to the day when we again have men qualified for the task.