Appointing and Working with Elders

Text: Acts 20:28

Once men have developed to the point that they are qualified to be elders, what comes next? Elders must be appointed. Then the congregation must work under their oversight. How does this work? And what about a congregation without qualified men to serve as elders?

The Appointment of Elders

  • The preacher’s role – some wonder if this is exclusively the preacher’s work, but what a preacher does in appointing elders can be done by others who can capably teach; primary role in appointing elders is by teaching (Titus 1:5-9); a preacher can also serve as an elder (1 Timothy 5:17)
  • The Holy Spirit’s role – He put the elders in Ephesus in their position (Acts 20:28), but this was not done miraculously; the Holy Spirit makes men elders in the same way today, through the word and the qualifications given by Him (John 16:13; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9)
  • The congregation’s role – not explicitly stated, but we can learn from the example of the appointment of the seven in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-6);  the congregation selects the men based on the qualifications given; the men are then confirmed and appointed as elders (1 Timothy 5:22)

A Congregation with Elders

  • Submit to them (Hebrews 13:17) – of course, this is dependent upon the elders first submitting to the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1); we must not follow elders who will lead us away from the Lord (Acts 20:30)
  • Honor them (1 Timothy 5:17) – we should “esteem them…because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13); however, this does not mean we ignore sin (1 Timothy 5:19-20)
  • Pray for them – prayers must be made for all men (1 Timothy 2:1), especially for those who are doing work in the kingdom (cf. Ephesians 6:19; Hebrews 13:18)
  • Work with them – all members are to be involved in the work of the church (Ephesians 4:11-12, 16); elders are to be “examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3) and we must “imitate” them (Hebrews 13:7)

A Congregation without Elders

  • Recognize that the church is lacking (Titus 1:5) – a church can exist without elders, but this is not ideal and not complete; this should be a temporary condition
  • Desire to have elders – if the church is lacking without elders, we should not be content in that state; it is God’s will for churches to have elders (Titus 1:5) and should be ours as well (cf. Matthew 26:39); it is also for our benefit that the church has elders (Hebrews 13:17)
  • Encourage the growth of each member – should be done anyway (1 Thessalonians 5:11); to develop elders, Christian men who are husbands and fathers must continue to grow and mature
  • Appoint elders when there are qualified men to serve – the qualifications are not suggestions (1 Timothy 3:2) and we should not appoint men hastily (1 Timothy 5:22); but we should not delay unnecessarily when there are men who can be appointed


  • Our goal must be to “retain the standard of sound words” found in the New Testament (2 Timothy 1:13)
  • Part of this is having elders to oversee the local congregation
  • To have this, we must develop, identify, appoint, and then work with the elders

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