The New Testament teaches that God intends for every congregation of His church to possess elders.
· "So when [Paul and Barnabas] had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed" (Acts 14:23).
· "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I had commanded you" (Titus 1:5).
However, hundreds of congregations of the Lord's church are currently without elders. Some ask,
· "Since God intends that every congregation possess elders, aren't these churches disobeying God?"
· "Aren't churches without elders unscriptural?"
· "Might it even be wrong to attend a church of Christ that lacks elders?"
The answers to the aforementioned questions might be "YES" if not for one important detail – God provides strict qualifications for the office of elder –1 Tim. 3:1-7, Tit. 1:6-9.
Due to the importance of this position, God intends that congregations be very selective in regards to the men that are appointed as elders.
Therefore, before criticizing a congregation for not having elders, one should ask, "Does this church currently possess willing, qualified men to serve as elders?" If it does, but the
congregation bars them from serving, such a church violates God’s commands and is decidedly “unscriptural" in terms of organization.
To put it another way, every church is in one of the four following conditions (in terms of biblical organization):
1. Scripturally organized – possessing biblically qualified elders (and deacons).
2. Unscripturally organized – possessing an unbiblical organizational structure, i.e. unqualified elders (or deacons), one elder, female elders, etc.
3. Scripturally unorganized – not possessing willing, qualified men to serve as elders (or deacons).
4. Unscripturally unorganized – refusing to allow qualified men to serve as elders (or deacons).
Although God intends for every congregation to possess elders, many churches lack two or more qualified men that desire to serve. To compel such churches to appoint elders (for the sake of having elders) is tantamount to disregarding God's will and results in a church that is unscripturally organized.
Please pray that the church in Milan will soon have qualified men that desire the office of elder (as well as deacons).
Jesus, always Jesus,