Role and Qualification of Elders
The Role of the Session
The Session of Hunt Valley Church consists of the senior pastor and ruling elders. The Biblical model of leadership is probably best characterized in the phrase "servant leader." Just as Christ didn't come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28), the role of the elders is to be servant leaders as they oversee and shepherd. A ruling elder is a member of Hunt Valley Church who has been elected by the other members.
The role of the Session can be divided into the two primary capacities of oversight and shepherding. Oversight means they have a fiduciary responsibility on behalf of the congregation to ensure accountability of the church to implement its mission, vision, and values, as well as to provide appropriate legal and financial controls and accountability. Shepherding means they minister alongside the pastor(s) to provide for the spiritual care and nurture of Hunt Valley members.
Biblical Qualification of Elders
The qualifications and motivations for the office of Elder are described in 1 Peter 5:2-3, 1Timothy 3:1-7, and Titus 1:6-9. Typical are the following mentioned in 1Timothy 3:1-7:
Aspires to the office…desires a noble task
Has an apparent, sincere desire to serve God; heart is set upon service.
Not "sinless", but "blameless"; i.e., habitually strives to walk in light of Scripture and presents no patterns of disobedience or grounds for accusation. Must be well thought of by church members as well as people outside the church.
Husband of one wife
Is a 'one-woman man,' a loyal and devoted husband living in a pure marriage relationship without adulterous relationships or attitudes. Has nothing to do with previous divorce on Biblical grounds, nor does it exclude a single man. We and the Presbyterian Church in America understand this and other passages in the Bible to teach that Elders are to be men.
Self-controlled, enslaved to nothing, free from excess in all areas of life so that he remains stable, steadfast, clear thinking. Spiritually and morally earnest.
Sober, sensible, wise, balanced in judgment, not given to quick, superficial decisions based on immature thinking. Has a "sense of proportion" about himself (Romans 12:3); under no illusions (thinking too highly or too lowly) about his abilities.
Like God who is a God of order, demonstrates a well-ordered life. Life-style models the teachings of the Bible, whether in dress, speech, appearance of home, or how he does business. Is a "gentleman" in all areas of life.
Is a friend of strangers and expresses his concern in the use of his home to reach out in love to others. "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Able to teach
Knows sound theology and can communicate truth to instruct, exhort, and "refute those who contradict." Is also teachable in receiving instruction and sensitive to people in giving it; kind to all, patient when wronged, corrects opponents in a non-argumentative, gentle way (cf. 2 Timothy 2:24, 4:2).
Not a drunkard
Free from addictions or substance abuse; willing to limit own personal liberty for the sake of others (cf. also Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:2,3; Proverbs 23:29-34).
Not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome
Not all anger is sin, but a quick temper means a person is not in control of his own spirit, easily threatened and quick to retaliate. Rather, is gentle, yielding, forbearing, considerate, magnanimous, genial, willing to yield his own rights.
Not a lover of money
Not stingy, greedy or preoccupied with amassing material things (the constant seeking after more and more which leads to selfishness and pride). Is a model of unselfish giving. Tithing would indicate his priorities are in order (cf. Hebrews 13:16).
Manage own household well, children obey with respect
Has well-ordered household, healthy family life, well-behaved children (young children under control, older children "not open to charge of being wild and disobedient" (Titus 1:6). His wisdom makes it natural for his children to obey, and his love makes it a pleasure. If can't lead his own children, won't be able to lead church effectively. Doesn't mean it's necessary to have children or be married.
Not a recent convert
Not a new believer but a Christian long enough to demonstrate the reality and depth of his spirituality. "Conceit'" engendered by advancement beyond his maturity clouds judgment. Not knowing own limitations inevitably leads to a fall.
A good reputation with outsiders
Often "outsiders" in the neighborhood and marketplace know more about the man in question than do the members of the church! A church seeking to exert a powerful influence for good upon the world with leaders of bad reputation with the world will be part of the problem rather than the solution.
Other Practical Qualifications to Consider
The following guidelines, though not the final word on the matter, ought to help as you consider whether to nominate a particular person or whether you should accept a nomination:
Calling is both inward and outward. A candidate should desire to serve and be recognized by others as possessing the gifts and graces necessary for the task.
Though no leader can expect to be perfect, he or she must be exemplary, modeling in a consistent way the character of Christ. 1 Timothy 1-3 and Titus 1:5-9 offer a useful summary of the character qualifications.
A candidate should evidence the inclination and ability to fulfill that particular biblical role. Elder candidates should be able to equip and care for people spiritually and should know their way around the Bible and be able to teach it. They should be comfortable praying with people in need and should be good managers.
Candidates need to understand and fit into Hunt Valley Church’s life and vision.
Candidates need to understand and accept the church’s convictions about theology and church government. This involves commitment to the Bible's authority, to Presbyterian church government, and to the Westminster standards.
Go to Registration Central to submit a nomination form.
Look for "Elder Nominations"