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Why Churches Do Not Have Elders

Leadership series  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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examination of four reasons why local churches do not appoint elders

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Intro: Last week we talked about what is wrong when a local church does not have elders. There must be reason(s) why. I would like to identify four main areas that I believe cause churches today to stray from God’s will in this matter. Not all of these originate from evil motives, but they still do harm. I don’t know the situation here, so no one should think I am personally attacking anyone.

I) Lack of faith

Some give up and say it just can’t be done – – “we don’t have enough men here”, “there are too many obstacles”
Matthew 17:19–20 ESV
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
If we trust in God, He will provide the means –
2 Corinthians 9:8–10 ESV
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

II) Some do not want elders

Friend told me of one man who opposed appointing elders and said, “We haven’t have elders for 35 years, and look at us.” – people don’t like change and too many of us have become comfortable with not having elders
Some do not want to give up power – – churches without elders are often guided by the loudest, not the wisest
3 John 9–10 ESV
I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.
Some do not trust others to lead them – ; – perhaps because of misunderstandings concerning their role, afraid of dictators (abuses can happen, but abuse does not change the command of God)
Hebrews 13:17 ESV
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
1 Peter 5:5 ESV
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

III) Some make the qualifications too strict

No one is directly accountable for the actions of another – – yet many do that in setting the qualifications of elders; examining in great detail their wives and children; we cannot interpret scripture to violate other scripture
Ezekiel 18:19–20 ESV
“Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
Appointment process has become much like our political campaigns, we appoint men on the basis of negatives instead of positives, yet 15 of 25 qualifications are positive
Elders will not be perfect men, one mistake – even a public one – does not necessarily disqualify a man

IV) Few men (and women) desire the role

Too few (parents, teachers, preachers, and other influential leaders) instill the desire to serve Christ in this, or any other capacity, in our children – we encourage advancement in this life, yet expect service to God to “just happen”
Time (often years) spent depending on others to substitute (ie. business meetings or preachers) in this role has caused many to stop preparing for this service, we become lazy spiritually
Too few desire the work, responsibility, and persecution of serving as elders – – even heard one man say in Kentucky, “Who would want to be an elder here?” – ; – when are elders needed more than in trying times?
1 Timothy 3:1 ESV
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.
Acts 19:28–30 ESV
When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel. But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him.
Isaiah 6:8–13 ESV
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “ ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the Lord removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump.
Concl: Perhaps you might think of other reasons as to the lack of elders, but these are illustrative of the problems local churches face. Determine what you can do to help fill this void here.
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