Tag Archives: elders

The Model Church

Sometimes, when people realize that I’ve made a lot of old brotherhood books available again (electronically and in print), they send me requests.  “Do you have this book?”  “Can you make this book available?”  And I think it’s great!  One of the ones that I get the most requests for is today’s addition to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary:

The Model Church by G.C. Brewer.

Here’s why: It is a good, succinct description of elders (and their qualifications), deacons (and their qualifications), and reverential worship in the church.

Having said that, brother Brewer did take the position in the book that female deacons were probably acceptable–so while there’s a lot in the book we agree with, there’s also that part that we don’t (we wrote an article that dealt somewhat with this here).  As always, compare everything with the word of God.

Here’s the chapters, to help give you an idea:

 

  1. What Constitutes A Congregation
  2. The Qualifications of an Elder
  3. The Duties of the Elders
  4. The Relation of the Overseen to the Overseer
  5. How Elders Are Made
  6. How Elders Are Unmade
  7. The Diaconate
  8. Dealing with the Disorderly
  9. Figuring on the Finances
  10. Church Music
  11. A Model Church
  12. Prayer-Meeting Topics

Because of the continual requests for this book, we are making it available in the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary, but also in print for those who want to use it in their Bible classes or personal study.

To purchase the print edition, click here.

To read this book online, or save it for later enjoyment, simply click the link below!

The Model Church (G.C. Brewer)

-Bradley S. Cobb

Bible Q&A – How Old Should an Elder Be?

We’ve discussed installing some new elders.  Some of the men under consideration are in their late 30s.  Are they old enough to be elders? –A Christian from Indiana.

That is a great question that really needs to be discussed.

It was about eleven years ago when the knocking of a hand against my front door got my attention.  Upon opening the door, I was faced with two Mormon boys who could not have been older than 19.  I asked the customary question, “Can I help you?”  Instead of answering the question, they proceeded to introduce themselves.  “My name is Elder Bob, and this is Elder Joe.”  Knowing that these boys had no idea what the word “elder” meant, I asked them a simple question.  “How are your wife and kids?”  The look of confusion across their face told me they also didn’t know what the Bible teaches about elders.  Upon explaining that an elder was the husband of one wife and had believing children, I asked them the question again.  They said “thank you” and shortly thereafter were on their way to the next house.

The word “elder” signifies, by its very definition, someone who is older.  How old?  Ask the members of the congregation what they consider to be an “older man” and you’ll have a pretty good guess.  But let’s look at some of the other things the Bible says on this matter.  There are certain “benchmarks” that also help us in determining a minimum age for an “elder.”

The first place to look is in the qualifications for elders which were laid out by the apostle Paul in I Timothy 3.  The person desiring the office of bishop (elder) must be the husband of one wife.  Literally, the wording is “a one-woman man.”  This man must have proven himself to be faithful to his wife, a dedicated husband.  Obviously this is not something a 19-year old can prove.  This is something that is proven over a period of time.  According to some sources, most men during the first century did not marry until they were in their 30’s.  Imagine, then, the age at which these people would have been known as dedicated husbands by the rest of the congregation.

Also, the elder must have faithful children (Titus 1:6).  Does this mean faithful to him or faithful to God?  Skipping this question for a moment, let us look at the simple point that the man must have children who are old enough to show they are faithful.  The children must be old enough to make decisions and show that they have been raised to make the right ones.  They obey their father because they are in subjection to him (I Timothy 3:4).  This does not describe children under the teenage years.  If this means children who are faithful to God, it means that the children must be faithful Christians.  If it means faithful to their father, this age of accountability would be about the same, wouldn’t you think?  This man’s children must be known to be obedient.  This again is something that takes time to prove, especially if it is referring to being a faithful Christian.

Looking at the likely age of marriage (say 30-35), adding the time it would take for their children to get to be teenagers (add another 15 or more years), as well as tacking on the time it would take for the children to prove themselves “faithful” once they reach the age of accountability, and you get someone who meets these first two qualifications for being an elder probably around age 50.

Let us also consider one last point.  The apostle Peter, approximately 61-63 AD, said he was an elder of the Lord’s church (I Peter 5:1).  If we accept that he was about Jesus’ age when he became a disciple of the Lord, then Peter would be about 65 years old when he wrote this.  He commanded the elders to whom he wrote, using the fact that he was an elder as back-up for his commands (I Peter 5:1-4).  This is not something that a newly-appointed elder would likely do, so Peter had likely been an elder at the church in Jerusalem for some time, perhaps a decade?

From a Biblical perspective, there is no way that a 19-year old could be an elder.  It would be pushing it to say someone in their 40s would qualify as “older,” as the word “elder” necessitates.  Though the Bible gives no specific age, it does give certain milestones (faithful husband and faithful children) which would be very difficult to reach and prove before their late 40s/early 50s.

Plus, unless you’re asking teenagers, no one considers a 40-year old to be an “older man.”

-Bradley S. Cobb

Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?

A year ago today, I wrote this article.  The message is still timely.  I pray that it is encouraging to you.

Who’s gonna fill their shoes?  Who’s gonna stand that tall?   Those words were made famous by George Jones, the legend of country music who died Friday morning.  The song was written mourning the passing of many classic country singers.  It was also written mourning the fact that the “new country” of the time was becoming more and more like pop music instead of country.

When the song was first released, there were people who were up and coming in country music who still held to their musical roots.  There were people like Alan Jackson, George Strait, Randy Travis, and others who kept more traditional county music alive.  If the question were asked today, however, the answer might well be “none.”  Real “country” music has just about disappeared from the airwaves, and all that is left is pop/rock music with an occasional fiddle or steel guitar.

Those country singers who truly play country music have been ostracized and rejected.  Even though the soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou” sold over a million copies, it was deemed “too country” for country radio.  Two of the most popular country artists of the 90′s (Alan Jackson and George Strait) accused the record companies of killing country music in their song “Murder on Music Row.”  Brad Paisley gathered together some legends of country music and recorded a song in protest called “Too Country.”

But George Strait and Alan Jackson are rarely heard on the radio anymore and Brad Paisley has defected to the synthesized pop side.  And again, the question lingers, Who’s gonna fill their shoes?

What does this have to do with the Bible and Christianity?

As more and more preachers, elders, and other faithful Christians pass on, we need to seriously consider the question of Who’s gonna fill their shoes?  Who is going to step up and continue to carry the banner of true Christianity?  It seems that a lot of Christians think that somehow the church will just keep on going strong without them—so they do nothing.

Jesus pointed out to a group of disciples that there is much work to be done, telling them “The harvest is truly great, but the laborers are few.  Because of this, pray to the Lord of the harvest that He will send laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2).  Jesus was concerned about who was going to carry on when He was gone.

Today, there is a massive push to leave real Christianity behind and go with a man-made imitation.  The ones who stand for the truth are labeled with such epitaphs as “legalists,” “boring,” “outdated,” and even “dead.”

There are Christians who speak out, but their voice is being marginalized.  Even when “big name” preachers speak out for the truth, their words are given little attention.  And more preachers and Christians continue to defect to the imitation Christianity that is supposedly more “popular” with people.

So, the question again rises and smacks each of the faithful in the face: with more preachers, elders, and Christians passing on, Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?

Are you willing to stand up and say, as the great prophet Isaiah did, “Here am I, send me!”? (Isaiah 6:8.)

Who’s gonna fill their shoes?

I am.  And I pray that you will too.  You are needed.