ELDERS AND PREACHERS QUALIFICATIONS
lessons are planned; others just happen, if it be said that any thing happens. This document hereby introduced is not the
results of sudden inspiration, nor is it the realization of a long cherished dream. It is a development of changes in the
Lord’s Church today. This document is well thought out before it was thought of as a distinct lesson, it was well investigated
and the contents well documented and confirmed regarding where the Church Elders are carrying the Church today.
We as Elders should be reminded of the first century problems, when they began to grow weak and
in one way or another; perhaps bribes from the Roman Empire helped to weaken the mind and hearts of the Elders who served
in that century. We may recall that Christians were not allowed to own private land, however, in some of the providence's
the governors would grant special favors to certain of the Elders by granting them the right to hold land. Thus began the
breaking asunder the Anointed of God.
Therefore, his lesson has been written
as an aid to those who wish to see the Congregations of Christians everywhere developed according to New Testament order.
Too many Church members are in no sense Disciples of Christ; they often go off after the ways of the world; they do so because
they have never been properly instructed in the ways of the Lord. People some times because of this, regards the preacher
and Elders as cranks. Not knowing themselves their duties, or really being qualified to serve in this office of the Lord.
Many times it is not uncommon to hear people in the best Congregations, speak out against preachers,
and Elders. These people regard the preacher, and Elders as ignorant and unlearned. There must be a reason why Christians
would cry out against especially God’s Anointed. However, looking at Elders today, and asking a few questions one gets
the firm idea that Elders today are protecting themselves and the Church against the teaching of Fulfilled prophecy. Yet they
are not protecting themselves, or the Church against the doctrine of Premillennialism, or Dispensationalism.To hold one part
of a doctrine that tends to destroy the creditability of God is to be guilty of all.
Most Churches of Christ follows the doctrine of unfilled prophecy, which is also the main doctrine of Premillennalism,
and Dispensationalism. Such is in direct conflict with the written word. Therefore, people today has so many more ways to
study the Bible, that they come upon scriptures which clearly teaches the fulfillment of all the written word Luke 21:20-22,
as well as Luke 24:44. In the second place when these people seeks the advice of what they have learned, the Elder informs
them that these scriptures do not mean what it says! And further that they believe in the future fulfillment of such subjects
as Resurrection, Judgment, and the “Second Coming of Christ, and the end of the world. Ooops, they have just read Gen.
8:22-23. God’s Decree that He would never again destroy the earth, and never again would He destroy every living thing
as He had done. Behold, these same people had reference material which sent them to Eccl. 1:4. Psalm 78:69. 93:1, 104:5, 119:90,
148:6, Dan. 2:44, 7:13-14, Isa. 9:6-7. They make efforts to discuss this newly found information with the Elder; the Elder
not having the knowledge of this has fallen into a religious trap. He cannot answer them. They leave the Church and charge
the Elder with ignorance. We cannot afford neither can we permit such charges. Acts 17:30; informs all Christians “therefore
having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men everywhere should repent. Therefore my people go into
captivity because of the lack of knowledge Isa. 5:13.
THINK ABOUT SELECTING ELDERS: THEY MUST CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING.
“For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint Elders in every city as
I directed you. Namely, if any man be above reproach, THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE, HAVING CHILDREN WHO BELIEVE, not accused of
dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self willed, nor quick tempered,
not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain. But hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout,
self controlled. Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort
in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” Therefore, the Elder must be qualified to preach and teach, and
be able to discuss any issue with every scripture, 2 Tim. 3:16. 1 Timothy 5: 17, “Let the Elders who rule well be considered
worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching”.
We MUST study to show our selves approved by God, and equipped for every good I also am a fellow Elder, and have served
two different Churches for many years; I am 78 years of age and have resigned the office of Elder. Since that time I have
engaged myself into actually finding out the qualifications of Elders now serving the Lord, as Shepherds of His flock. You
would be surprised to know that some Elders do not even know the qualification set upon the person who aspires to the office
of Elder. You might be shocked that some Elders were appointed to the office because they owned a profitable business, and
was well thought of as a businessman, he supported the Church with his money, so he was appointed an elder! But he knew nothing
about having a good business knowledge of becoming a Shepherd for the flock of God.
I did aspire and I had a sincere desire to be an officer in the Lord’s Church. But first I knew that the word within
the qualifications “Apt to teach” really went beyond the common knowledge of the average Christian. This meant
that not only should I have the knowledge to teach, but needed the proper knowledge to discuss any issue in God’s Word,
and to do that with an open mind, and compassion toward the other person. Also I needed a degree in Clinical Psychology, I
need degrees in Biblical Education. Finally after preaching from 1953 until 1975, I obtained the office of Elder at Daleville,
Alabama. I served with two other Elders who were well, and highly educated in Biblical knowledge. After this I went back into
higher education and earned the Doctor of Religious Education.
I did not,
and will not ever fail to discuss issues of fulfilled prophecy regardless of my personal opinion in the matter. Every scripture
is a part of God’s Word, therefore I must teach every subject, every scripture as if my life depended upon it. My spiritual
life does depend upon it. I am not suggesting that every Elder should have a Doctors degree in religious education, however,
I am suggesting that any one who desires the office, prepare himself for it before accepting, or reject it.
Young preachers are at a disadvantage to begin with, all the schools that I know of teach the millennial
view from the beginning of his school. Until his finish. But no one can serve two Masters. This has been the attitude of many
young preachers. They have shunned the question for fear they would start a controversy or cause factions among some of the
Churches; but these are scriptural questions, and they vitally concern us; and we cannot, therefore, afford to be ignorant
of them. No teacher of God’s word is faithful to his trust if he shuns to declare all that God teaches on these subjects,
and all questions. Sometimes we hesitate to present what the New Testament teaches relative to the Elders and their duties
and qualifications because we find our practices clearly out of harmony with it in many instances. This, however, is unworthy
of any honest, God-fearing seeker after truth. This implies that not only one should aspire to this office, but should aspire
to the truth. If we can give the proper conception of this noble and honorable work, there will be men to-day who will “
desire the office of an Elder, and they will prepare for it.
MEN FOR BETTER CHURCHES.
1. When I say more dedicated, then I mean men that have
the interest of the Church first.
2. Men who do not hold pre-conceived
ideas, and traditions.
3. Men who can, and will discuss any
issue past or present, that God has spoken.
4. Men dedicated to search the true
meaning of God’s Word.
5. Men who are willing, and have time
to re-search first century material to find truth.
6. Men who
will not violate the autonomy of others, and expect his to be respected.
Men who are not reluctant to teach, or preach themselves.
8. Men who
do not practice the attitude of being ludicrous.
9. Elders must
show compassion and love in any discussion of God’s Word.
As God’s anointed allow the Spirit of God to be seen in you.
1. God gives instructions for a plurality of elders to oversee
the work of the Church.
2. The exact number to be found in the
needs of each individual Church.
3. There is no value in appointing large
numbers if they are not needed.
4. Look to the future by establishing
a training program for younger men.
5. Observe the conduct and interest
of men years before accepting them in training.
young men should be sought out as young as 10 years of age.
7. From this
selection teach the asset of trained elders through out their residence with the Church.
8. Teach them the importance of 2 Peter 2:20-21, that the Bible interprets its scriptures.
1. Varying backgrounds, training, opportunities,
secular education, and business pursuits makes for different personalities.
2. Elders should exercise the utmost longsuffering attitude toward one another.
3. Showing the attitude of a kind and loving father will build confidence.
4. Never show the attitude, that it’s my way, or no way.
The Ruling Elder.
1. One elder is equal, in all respects,
to his brother elder.
2. When one accepts appointment as Elder
he puts aside personal feelings.
3. All Elders should be alert to the
possibility of one man becoming a ruling Elder.
4. All Elders
must bear the personal feelings of others. You are their leader.
All Elders must have an humble attitude. You are the shepherd of the flock when a Shepherd raises his voice to a flock of
sheep they scatter. So does people.
1. Things are to be done “decently and in order” to his brother Elder, or to people.
2. How long one serves, as chairman should be decided by entire group?
3. Elders should not remain as chairman simply because he has a good use of language.
4. Elders should not remain as chairman simply because he is looked up to for his giving large sums
of money to the Church. If he has it to give, then give, but not for special favors, especially when it involves the leadership
of our Lord’s Church.
5. Rotation of chairmanship is suggested
every three months, six months, or a year.
6. It is the duty of the chairperson
to open and close each meeting with prayer.
7. Chairman should familiarize himself
with the order of business for the next meeting.
transacted should be kept in written form. A bookkeeper is needed.
1. The majority of the members present should decide any
2. Each should be given opportunity to express his ideas
3. It should be understood that those who are absent from
a business meeting of the Elders vote in agreement with the majority.
For these reasons it is a serious responsibility of the Church in selecting men to serve.
1. There are at least two kinds of special appointments.
2. One for a special deliberation, when others Elders are called in on a hard subject to be considered.
3. One for special investigation, and a course of action.
4. One Elder should not be given power to a decision, alone which will ultimately affect the work of the Church, and
will cast doubt upon the Elders.
5. A minor decision concerning something
already approved, or in regards to a program already established in the Church, could be expected to be made by one Elder
when special appointment is made.
Dividing the Work.
1. Wise Elders divide and share the responsibility for the mental and physical work.
2. A rotation system could be established whereby Elders would shift positions and accept the responsibility
for the mental and physical workload of other Elders. The results is the man, and God relationship.
3. Individuals would not operate independently, separate and apart from the other Elders.
4. Each Elder needs, and should have experience in every phase of the work of the church.
1. One of the greatest dangers that
Elders face is a closed mind.
2. There must be a willingness to lead
the Church into greater Biblical works.
3. Leadership requires courage, boldness,
and the willingness to act on faith and prayer in any expansion program.
4. Elders should
have an open mind regarding the budget.
of progressive thinking for the growth and development of the Church is most tragic.
6. The Lord’s work is bigger and more important than one man.
Personal Jealousy and Envy.
1. There is
no place for this in the heart of a Christian.
2. Envy of
a preacher’s popularity with the Church is not an uncommon element with some Elders.
3. God expects Christians to grow into maturity.
The Senior Elder.
1. God says nothing about a senior Elder
in the Bible.
2. “Senior Elder” sets him apart from other
Elders and gives him a preeminent position contrary to design and order.
3. Wise is
the man who grows in grace and knowledge with the passing years.
Humble, worthy, and filled with wisdom is the man who does not expect the seniority of his age or experience to set him above
his fellows Elders.
Selecting New Elders.
1. Our Lord gave no specific plan. Outside the written qualifications.
2. Use common sense, and investigation of outside morals, and debts.
3. His responsibility
should be shared by both the present Elders and the members.
Men who have shown at least a part of the qualifications Scripturally, and are well known by the Church and community should
be considered however having a fair knowledge of some of the qualifications is not good enough.
5. Elders should talk first to the new prospect privately and individually; they should ascertain
his willingness to work in all areas of the Church, especially one on one in discussions with new converts. The Church should
always be allowed time for their input.
6. It is not unscriptural to select a committee who might
be appointed to look out certain men whose names could be placed before the Church, provided the Church has no Elders.
Growing Too Old To Serve.
1. Nature often so crudely changes a man’s ability to think with accurate co-ordination that
the change is hidden from the one who is affected.
2. It is possible
for a man to grow too aged to serve acceptably, both mentally and physically, as an Elder.
3. When a man ceases to be conscious of competence, refusing in childish pouting or loud arguing, or when he becomes
mentally or physically incompetent to work with the other elders, he has grown too aged for active service in leading the
Lord’s Church to glory.
Elders and Their Wives.
1. The business of the Church is a solemn oath between Elders
not to discuss especially counseling members within the Church, or out, problems within other Churches.
2. What an Elder tells his wife is exactly what is best for public knowledge, no more.
3. It shows a lack of consideration for the wife in view of the mental and emotional stress, which
such knowledge of delicate matters will place upon her.
4. Should she
betray his confidence by mistake, she may create an un-intentional disturbance in the Church.
5. Our Lord did not instruct overseeing of the Church to be done by Elders and wives. Wives should not probe the husband
for information she is not entitled to have.
6. The proper way is to have a firm
understanding with wife regarding these events.
Advice to an Elder.
1. Do not allow self to be romanced by anyone in the Church.
2. When doing personal work, or counseling, especially when women only is present always carry a pocket recorder,
prior to entering office or home record date, persons name, and time record conversation, or use a note book, keep these notes.
Many are the Elders that have been caught up in the religious trap, of he came on to me, save yourself and the Church.
3. Do not expose your information of problems you are involved in with other people unless you need
further help, when solved, then advise other Elders as a caution.
Elders Worthy of Honor.
1. No man nor
group of men does a more important, inspiring, selfless, and worthy work.
If a man desires the office of Elder, he desireth a good work.
3. Keep watch
over other Elders. Elders can be of ripe age, and have served for many years and still be a novice. Elders should have a good
library, balance your library, don’t depend on the Church library, you should carry a good supply of first century material
written by the Church fathers, and non Church fathers up to at least the fourth century when Athanasius wrote. A good knowledge
and historical account of the Roman Catholic Church, and their teaching. This accounting will give you tools to work with
in dealing with present teaching in the world today, keep the Church free of divisions. You the Elders have this responsibility
to produce truth it takes 2 Tim. 2:15, and Rom. 12:2, to accomplish your duty.
1. The preacher
a servant, not Subordinate.
2. Preacher needs compassionate and
frequent understanding, frequent encouragement.
3. Preacher is the servant of the Lord,
he serves the Church, and he is not a private servant of any Elder.
Though the preacher is under the supervision of Elders, he is not subservient to them. At times the Elders may call upon the
preacher, especially if he is well learned, and open minded to give advice on some Biblical doctrine. If he cannot be trusted
to do this then you need another preacher that deserves your trust.
1. A frequent prerequisite of hiring a preacher is how well he has established a notable reputation
for himself through the years he has preached.
2. The preacher
may preach a lesson that is not fully accepted by the Elders; this then is an issue that must be looked at from every angle.
Every issue has its own merits, for example—recently I was asked to discuss an issue of Resurrection, upon hearing both
sides, I asked the question, Did Christ come to redeem the lost sinner? The answer was yes. Then I asked if that included
the spirits both good and bad from Adam to the cross? The answer was yes, and then I reminded both sides that Christ could
not come and redeem these souls without a resurrection. Then I asked them to read Hosea 6:1-2, and Matthew 27: 50-53, and
then read Heb. 2:14. I gave no opinions, and did not commit myself to the idea of either. The issue was solved by proper learning,
and application of God’s Word.
3. Preacher and Elders work together
in the business of saving souls.
4. Even a man is not well known he may
be right for a particular Church—he must start somewhere.
Never use the old system of tryouts in your own Church, make an uninvited visit to where he preaches. You need to hear him
on his own grounds, when a preacher is invited to your Congregation he will always be his best, and you can never expect him
to do better.
6. After hearing him at his own location then invite him to speak at your Church.
Working agreements between Elders and Preacher.
All agreements should be in contract form, all agreements should consider circumstances, which would alter the written agreement;
caution should be used in all agreements, and that with consideration of both parties.
2. Time off, lectureships, meetings, vacation time should be agreed upon, and records kept of all activities.
3. Some larger Churches provide buses or vans to pick up deserving members and non-members, the
Preacher should never be compelled to act as driver for this work, if Churches can afford this program; they can provide drivers
other than the Preacher.
4. Some Churches provide large buses
to provide the elderly with vacations in certain areas for days at a time, there are cases where the preacher is called upon
to drive this should not happen to any preacher. He is a preacher of God’s Word, not a bus driver. If he chooses to
come along and that is approved by the Elders, that can be good, but it takes away from his Church work at home.
Participants in Business Meetings.
1. It is imperative that the preacher whose life’s work is involved in the plans of the church
be included in the business meetings with the Elders.
when preacher is not included is when meeting is for discussing preacher personally.
3. Some reasons why Elders do not want preacher in business meetings, preacher does not belong in the affairs of the
4. A little thinking will reveal how false this idea is some Elders feel that preacher might attempt
to dominate the meeting.
5. Elders who do not trust their preacher
more than this should dispose of him.
Disagreements between Elders and Preacher.
1. Preacher and Elders should be neither preacher-dominated nor elder –dominated.
2. Differences are always normal but should not result in malicious resentfulness having an evil
disposition toward one another can divide the Church.
3. There is
an appreciable difference between a Christian difference in opinion and the constant quarreling of little men.
4. Preacher and Elders should agree to be careful in passing judgment on the one who are weak in
faith; it could be that such a one needs one on one Biblical teaching.
Operational Freedom for the Preacher.
1. The work
of a full time preacher is so diversified as to render incapable the possibility of maintaining an hourly, or daily schedule.
It should not be expected of him.
2. Eldership that invents an ironclad
schedule for their preacher denies their expressions of belief in his diligence to be honest in his work.
3. Many times the full time preacher is on call twenty-four hours daily seven days a week.
4. Dedicated servants of God is seldom found loafing, they too also enjoy going fishing or hunting.
But seldom get to.
The Importance of Standing Together.
1. When an Eldership and preacher stands together as one they can keep “keep the unity of
the bond of peace”.
2. An occasional word from a representative of the Elders
group to the Church, with Respect to their minister’s effort and approved labor, is both essential wise and Spiritually
healthy for all concerned.
3. An old fashion scriptural spanking will be well received
when it comes from united and righteous men.
4. Preacher should occasional preach
a sermon to remind and exhort the membership of their individual duty to their Elders.
5. A preacher is foolish and unstable to allow Elders to be criticized in his presence.
6. Preacher cannot receive an accusation against an Elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses, 1 Tim 5:19.
The Preachers Salary.
1. The laborer is worthy of his hire, 1 Tim 5:18, Preachers being paid insufficient funds is Primarily due to ignorance
on the part of the people and of the Elders.
2. Proper support
will stop a lot of unnecessary moving from place to place.
the amount of the preacher’s income by using the average income of the Church members is not a wise or good choice.
4. The item of his transportation is more than the average Church member, his frequent repairs are
more than the average Church member, and the Church expects him to dress better than the Average Church member. These considerations
were in use in Old Testament times among the priestly tribes.
Preachers Duty to Himself.
must realize that sermons preached must also be for self and family.
He has a double responsibility for practicing what he preaches.
3. The preacher
is expected by the Lord and membership to be a living example of New Testament teaching.
4. A wise preacher will ask the Elders to consider his salary for the next year and make whatever adjustments that
5. The preacher must seek and find health insurance, and,
or pension plans he cannot afford to become a long time burden to the Church.
Too many times a preacher is used as a scapegoat, he must be aware of such before it happens.
7. Preacher needs to watch carefully that his personal characteristic traits do not prohibit a harmonious blending
with the needs of the Congregation, it is in his best interest, and that of the Church.
8. The preacher needs to understand that when he engages in a gospel meeting with a church that cannot pay him, his
expense doubles. It is quite different than being a full time evangelist, for the evangelist receives no fringe benefits,
no home furnished.
If these requirements appear to be too rigid, just take time to consider them and see which one
that the Christian should not possess. Recognizing that an Elder cannot be a novice he cannot become an Elder by simply being
in the Church for two or three years and become an Elder. A Christian becomes a Christian at baptism provided his heart is
contrite. There is not a thing required in his character that is not also required of every Christian. The Elder is required
to already have these things developed in his life to a greater degree than the average Christian, because he is older in
the faith older in years, and should have developed wisdom. Every Christian is to be a teacher. Heb. 5:12: Titus 2:3-4, Matt.
28:18-20, But an Elder should be apt to teach, gifted as a teacher, and familiar with all the scriptures. If this were not
true how could he teach at all? So familiar that he is able to convict the one in error and put them to shame. He must at
the same time by truthful teaching be able to exhort and convince.
should never be thought that the word “blameless” means “sinless” or “faultless” no man
is faultless. It simply means that the man should possess irreproachable conduct in his manner of life, and in the upbringing
of his children. And last but not least be recognized by all people as honest and an upright and dependable Christian man.
Not lording it over the charge allotted to him. But one who seeks to know what the Lord wants of him instead of trying to
force the Lord to say what he wishes.
If a Congregation goes wrong for lack of knowledge, the
Elders are at fault, in just the same way that Israel went into exile, and it was their fault, not God’s.
It has not been my intention to personally attack any Elder, or Elders in any way except through
the truth, and to point out to all Elders are subject to the influence of great change in our Lord’s Church. I plead
for those who are determined to serve God not to be led into the lake of fire by those rotten apples who are determined to
destroy the Lord’s Church through change.
Jessie E. Mills, DR. E. PHD.
1729 Hwy 79 N.
Bonifay, Fl. 32425.