Eldership Process

Notes from the members meeting on June 25, 2017 re: eldership at KW Redeemer.

Men and Women: Ministers of the Gospel

We aim to structure KW Redeemer according to the pattern in scripture which calls men to lay their lives down to serve their wives, their families and the church in the same way that Christ laid His life down for the church.

When the apostle Paul organized the New Testament church, the office of elder was a responsibility that called men to servant leadership. His reasoning for this was not shaped after the pattern of the culture, but the pattern of God’s creation. The apostle explicitly states why he calls me to serve in this way in 1 Timothy 2:12-13 by stating that, “Adam was formed first, then Eve.”

It is important to note that Eve is described with the Hebrew word “ezer” (עֵ֫זֶר) in relation to Adam which is used to describe one who brings vital, crucial, powerful and needed strength. Of the 21 times the word “ezer” is used in Genesis, God refers to Himself as the “ezer” 16 times. This informs us on both the high view that the scriptures have towards women and why the scriptures are unapologetic in calling men and women give their strengths in unique ways. Therefore, the apostles instruction to have men serve in eldership does not suggest that women cannot lead, teach or bring their gifts to bear in the church. It highlights how men and women have God-given gifts that are intended to complement one another in gospel ministry.

For example … Women were in the critical prayer meeting when Matthias was elected to replace Judas as an apostle. (Acts 1:12-26) Women were also tested and approved for leadership for compassion ministries in the church, (1 Timothy 3:11) Phoebe was one of Paul’s ministry colleagues and she hand delivered the letter to the Romans, (Romans 16:2) Phillip had 4 daughters who all prophesied publicly, encouraging the church. (Acts 21:9) Women routinely prayed & encouraged the church in Corinth by prophesying/speaking as part of their public worship. (1 Corinthians 11:5) Priscilla led a house church with her husband Aquilla (Rom 16:4,5) and after listening to a teacher named Apollos teach the scriptures, she went with her husband Aquilla and alongside him, she helped teach Apollos to preach more accurately. (Acts 18:26) The apostle Paul also thanked two women, Euodia and Syntyche for being colleagues with him in the gospel. (Philippians 4:2-3)

It is crucial for us as members at KW Redeemer to understand that the identification, qualification and ordination of  men to serve as elders does not reduce women to subordinate ministers. When Jesus submitted to the Father He was not subordinate to the Father – He remained equal to the Father as He fulfilled a call that was distinct from the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11) The scripture calls men to lead in the home and the church – not because those roles minimize women, but because those God-given roles are designed to serve them.

Therefore, we desire to pattern KW Redeemer according to the pattern we see in creation and in the New Testament church, by serving side by side as ministers of the gospel & equals before God (Galatians 3:28) in our distinct and complementary roles. The gospel of grace in Christ shapes our view for church leadership, revealing that eldership is not an invitation into prestige and superiority, but is a call to service and self sacrifice. Together, by God’s grace and guidance, we aim to establish an understanding of eldership and its process, so that the the faithful preaching of the gospel can be preserved in this church and spread throughout this city – for generations.

Our Structure: The presbyterian form of government

The word “presbyterian” comes from the Greek word “presbuteros” (πρεσβύτερος) which is used 66 times throughout the New Testament. It refers to those trained by the apostles in the gospel and set in the churches as assemblies, or “presbyteries” to lead and care for the church. This divided both the authority to lead and the responsibility for care.

Once elders are identified, qualified and ordained in a Presbyterian church, they hold the office of elder for life in the same way that the pastor holds his ordination for life. In established churches, there are often enough trained elders that they serve in terms of a set number of years. These terms are referred to as “sessions”. The length of these sessions vary from church to church, depending on the amount of qualified elders available to serve and the size of the church. As KW Redeemer is in the process of setting in our first eldership, those who complete our training process will serve as elders with the lead pastor until future elders are trained and terms are possible. The Eastern Canada presbytery is recommending that for KW Redeemer’s size, 4-6 individuals be invited into the training process.

Eldership is pastoral, missional and theological. The presbyterian form of government is not democratic – the congregation selects individuals to be trained to serve and make decisions to further the church’s mission in the city on behalf of its members. However, when significant financial decisions need to be made that affect the congregation, such as the purchase of a building, elders form committees of men and women who have the expertise to serve those projects.

Many church processes are outlined in the Presbyterian Book of Church Order: a large, practical resource document that assists elders and churches in “what to do when” situations. The BCO is online: http://www.pcaac.org/resources/bco/

Our Requirements: identifying and qualifying elders

“… an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” – I Timothy 3:1-7, 11

: … an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.  He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” – Titus 1:7-9

Our Process: the ordination of elders

Elders must meet the scriptural qualifications of I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, therefore, they must be trained in the Scriptures. This process will take approximately one year. After the training period, all candidates for eldership will be examined and ordained to serve at KW Redeemer by the Eastern Canada presbytery. Until that point, the candidates for eldership will meet monthly to pray for the church, study the scriptures, attend board meetings to be familiarized with the financial workings of the church and as an integral part of their training, assist in pastoral care, serving the families in the church alongside the pastor. Elder Training includes:

  • Systematic Theology: this is the study of the nature of God and who we are in relation to Him, the covenants of God, what is required in God’s law and what is provided in God’s gospel, a study in prayer, our union with Christ and how the Word of God guides the NT church  in light of this union, and how the 66 books of the bible connect.
  • Apologetics: Elders must be competent to give a defence for the gospel in an age of skepticism. Apologetic studies will include: science and theology, historical proofs for the resurrection, a defence of the divine nature of scripture and a defence for why the Christian worldview is both intellectually and emotionally satisfying.
  • Pastoral Care: elders are responsible not only to care for the church by protecting gospel theology, but also to come alongside families and help them apply God’s Word to their various struggles in a graceful, restorative way.
  • KW Redeemer Vision: Elders must be unified in their commitment to build an outward facing, missional church in KW by dedicating the church’s resources of time, talent and money in order to accomplish this. Our vision is walked out in 4 ways (1) gospel (2) love (3) compassion and (4) city engagement

Our Next Step: nomination in fall 2017

Our membership will be asked to nominate candidates to begin the training process for eldership. Please join us in prayer for the eldership training process so that by God’s grace and guidance, the faithful preaching of the gospel can be preserved in our church and spread throughout our city – for generations.