Some Thoughts on Nominating Elders and Deacons
It is an exciting time in my congregation. No, I am not speaking of the blessing of a newborn baby girl to a young couple…(congrats Geoff and Ashley) …as exciting as that is, it is time once again to nominate men to be elders and deacons.
Ok…I admit that ”exciting” might be viewed as an overstatement by some.
Sadly; this continues to be something that generates little interest from the flock here at my church. In the past few years it seems that not many get involved in the process. So this time around there were nomination forms in our mail boxes, I assume to stimulate more of us to nominate qualified men. Simply write the names of qualified men, sign it and hand it in to your ward elder. That is so user friendly, so twenty first century isn’t it? I hope that you all will prayerfully consider whom to nominate. I would like to quote Samuel Miller:
“The design of appointing persons to the office of Ruling Elder is not to pay them a compliment; not to give them an opportunity of figuring as speakers in judicatories; not to create the pageants of ecclesiastical ceremony; but to secure able, faithful and truly devoted counselors and rulers of the Church—to obtain wise and efficient guides, who shall not only go along with the flock in their journey heavenward, but go before them in everything that pertains to Christian duty.” ~ The Ruling Elder
This quote is speaking specifically of elders, however it is relevant also for deacons. Every step of the process of electing elders and deacons requires care and thoughtfulness, and everyone involved from the minister and elders to the young single guy in the back pew should be fervent in prayer, seeking the up building of Christ’s church. From the nomination to the election and the appointing of men, both the congregation and its consistory need to appreciate the significance of this matter. Yet sadly, many of us are more concerned with how the local sports team is doing, updating Facebook statuses, gaming or pinning or tweeting or blogging or (insert favorite pastime here) rather than being concerned with the things of the Kingdom…especially with electing elders who will be held in account of how they kept watch over your doctrine and life.
This is important.
You should not nominate someone because he is your “buddy,” or your cousin, or your uncle, or your best friend, or the popular guy in church, or the rich guy, or the successful business man…please don’t get me wrong, it is possible that these men meet the criteria… but you should not nominate a man based on business success, relation to you, surname, popularity, or the chiseled jaw line he possesses. Men who are nominated for elder and deacon should be men whom the Lord has already raised up in his service, who meet the criteria set forth in 1 Timothy and Titus. And it is not difficult to see whom the Lord has raised up to serve as an office bearer. How can I say this? Well, the Lord has distributed to his people various gifts, or talents and abilities; and these gifts are to be employed in his church (1 Corinthians 12:1–31; Ephesians 4:4–16). The Lord has given us all, not only the elders and deacons, the responsibility to use our gifts for the mutual benefit and up building of the body of Christ. So, those men whose gifting meets the criteria in 1 Timothy and who are demonstrating and employing them in the church as the Lord commanded in the parable of the talents, should be recognized and encouraged by the consistory to continue to develop their gifts in love and good works. By doing this, the consistory will be able to discern those whom the Lord has raised up to serve in the offices of elder and deacon. So simply, before a man is ordained as an elder, he must already be proving himself by leading, teaching, and bearing responsibility in the church. Likewise, before a man is appointed a deacon, he must show that he meets the criteria for a deacon and must be proving himself by being involved in service and mercy among the people of God.
So while the decision rests with the consistory as to whom will be nominated and put on the ballot, the congregation also has a responsibility to seek out and nominate the men who demonstrate gifting as office bearers. So please prayerfully seek wisdom in the process and write a letter, or at least fill out that nomination form…seriously, you just have to write down some names and sign it. See that pen over there? Pick it up…after you pray…
I have my list of names…do you?
A final thought: In a previous article I stated that it would be a good idea to ask a man if you were not sure if he is willing…allow me to completely flip on that statement…Please do not check with the man to see if he is willing, simply nominate him if he meets the criteria. Consistory will follow up and check with him to sort out the details.