Titus: A Church Planter’s Reflections: ‘Qualifications for Elders’ 1:6-9
“6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For 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, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 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 1:6-9
Paul continues with a description of qualities to look for in an elder. These were the individuals who were to oversee local churches (1:7) and function as God’s stewards. The church does not belong to them, it belongs to God with Christ as the head of the church (Col 1:18). As we plant churches we should consider this–the church is not owned by the pastor (like a business is owned by an owner), but the church is owned by God, ruled by Christ through his Spirit and governed locally through qualified elders. Remembering this ought help us kill any ideas of superiority/pride/domineering and any temptations to give in to cowardice or insecurity. I try to remember this as we plant a church.
As a church planter, I remember that these are the qualifications God has given. The fact that biblical eldership is only open to qualified males is very offensive today in America. Eldership is not open to any person who wants it—it is only open to men; not every man who wants to be an elder is qualified–they must exhibit a particular degree of godly maturity and be able to teach. As a church planter, I consider the qualities mentioned in 1:6-9 and seek to live these out daily by the Holy Spirit’s empowering. I strive to put to death that which is earthly (Col 3:5-11)–here in Titus Paul mentions arrogance, quick-temperedness, drunkenness, violence and greediness (1:7). These I must kill in my heart. And I strive for greater fruitfulness in qualities listed in verse 6 and 8. I pray that God will help me to exhibit these through the Holy Spirit’s empowering.
Along with these qualities, a qualified elder must “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught” (1:9). This shows the vital importance of doctrine. We cannot rely on zeal alone. Calvin said that zeal without knowledge is like a crazy person running around with a machete! It is very dangerous. Thus, we must hold firm to the trustworthy word (the gospel and the Scriptures). As we hold on to this, it is for this end: that we might “give instruction in sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it.” We are shown here then that an elder must teach and rebuke. In planting Cross of Christ Fellowship, God has given opportunities to do both: teach sound doctrine and rebuke those speak against it. I find that teaching is far easier than the rebuking, but doing both are vital and doing both is the most loving thing I can do. This passage has given me courage to speak up when I wanted to be silent.
Would pray for Cross of Christ Fellowship? Pray that I more faithfully exhibit the qualities of a godly elder and that God raises up other elders for us.