The twenty first century has many threats that can hinder, harm, and harass the church of Christ. In the modern society, sin is not only accepted, but encouraged. Thus, the work that the church of Christ does in evangelism, edification, and benevolence is extremely important during this time. If the church of Christ is not shining forth light in a world of darkness, then who will? It is imperative that the church be as strong as it can be during these times. However, that brings me to the main discussion of this article. How much longer will many congregations of the church be as strong as they need to be? It is no secret that a lot of smaller congregations are struggling in this present time. Some congregations have even had to cease being congregations. What will the future be like?
One of the most serious problems that the church currently faces is the lack of qualified men to serve as bishops/elders/presbyters/shepherds/overseers/pastors. I lumped all of those terms together because they are all the same people, just referenced in different aspects of their work. How many congregations do you know that do not currently have elders? Of those that do have elders, how many congregations have men that are not really qualified to fill that role? Many times, congregations in these positions are not nearly as strong as they need to be. How many “men’s business meetings” have gotten heated to the point that some men and their families leave the congregation because they did not get their way? How many times have congregations welcomed sinful additions and subtractions because men in the eldership allowed such things to be?
There is an urgent need for men to “…desireth a good work” (1 Tim. 3:1). I use that verse because that is one of the early requirements for a godly bishop. The first qualification is that the person be a male/man. Then, he needs to have the desire to serve. This desire should not be a selfish one. The desire should be that the church has a need for local leadership. This man should love the church of Christ so much that he is willing to accept the responsibilities and challenges that such a position holds. However, in many congregations, there is a shortage of men who could currently do such. With that being stated, what do we do to fix this problem?
First of all, if I am a male member of the body of Christ, I should look at the need seriously. Then, if the desire is there, I should examine my life to see whether I am further qualified. Paul wrote the requirements long ago. “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:1-7). Likewise, Paul also wrote, “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsay-ers” (Titus 1:5-9). If a desirous man does not currently meet these qualifications, then he should start doing what he can to live as such.
Without qualified men, what will the church of Christ endure in the future? How many more congregations will fall? If you are a parent or guardian of a young boy, then let me encourage you to start guiding that young man so that he will one day be an elder! While there has been a great deal emphasized about needing Gospel preachers, we also need to emphasize the need for future elders. I still have great optimism for what the church will continue to be. I am confident that we can help the future of the church be strong by encouraging our young men to “…desireth a good work”. ~ Corey Barnette
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