'But You Don't Have Elders'

by Karl Diestelkamp
via Think on These Things, January-February-March, 2011, Volume 42, Number 1

No telling how many times brethren who are working hard to worship God in truth and purity and to preach the gospel and to work in every scriptural way have heard these words from brethren who move into their area.  Wouldn’t every faithful Christian prefer to be part of a local church with qualified elders? But that is almost never the lot of those who pioneer a new work in a needy area or who are trying to “hold the fort” when qualified elders have been lost to death or moving away. These hardy souls labor and sacrifice where they live, in behalf of the lost, often with less than a strong nucleus. Help from faithful Christians would be heartily welcomed and greatly appreciated.

“But, you see, you don’t have elders.”  Quite right, at the moment. But where do migrating brethren think elders come from? If no one with ability and potential ever “stays put” long enough to help a local church develop qualified elders, then no church will ever have elders except those who have struggled through the process in the past and now have elders serving. How do you suppose the brethren in the first century managed until elders were appointed?  Quite often there are complaints about having experienced ungodly behavior on the part of some in business meetings where there are no elders. That might well be a reason for leaving a congregation, if it will not correct the wrongdoers (Romans 16:17), but do not assume that every church without elders will be a repeat of that. It takes time for men to develop and become qualified elders, but it is worth the effort and the wait. You could make a godly difference. Step up! Take a stand! Remember, “God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness (cowardice and timidity)" (II Timothy 1:7).      

Of course we must do what we believe to be best for us and our families, but we must also “grow in grace and in knowledge” (II Peter 3:18) to where we are not only and always on the receiving end of the strength of others.

We sometimes hear a lot of similar discouraging words from those who choose to worship elsewhere: “But you don’t have enough children… enough teenagers… enough eligible single people… enough whites, blacks, hispanics… enough college grads… enough professionals… etc.” Well, I’m reminded of Acts 16:9, “Come over into Macedonia, and help us!

Oh, and by the way, if you should be one of those self-willed, strife prone individuals who turns necessary business meetings into personal vendettas that drive faithful brethren away — REPENT!