We started Redemption Bible Church believing that Biblical leadership would be crucial to planting and pastoring a healthy church. We believed both then and now that the health of our church would directly relate to the health of our elders. If you do not know, elders are the senior leaders of the church also called pastors, bishops, and overseers in the New Testament (Eph 4:11; 1 Pet 5:2; Acts 20:28). The elders are men chosen for their ministry according to the clear biblical qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. In addition to these Biblical qualifications, there are three specific traits we look for in potential elders:
1. Spiritual Vitality
You cannot lead people into a relationship with Christ that you do not personally possess. We are always on the lookout for men who live in passionate pursuit of knowing Jesus as the prize of their lives. This pursuit means good pastors have beat up Bibles and callused knees. We want men who love God's Word, read God's Word, study God's Word, and obey God's Word. We want men who regularly seek to cast their cares upon the Lord and actively depend on the power of the Spirit through prayer. Ultimately, we are looking for men who can say with King David, "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Ps.42:2).
2. Servant Leadership
Too many elder-lead churches gain the reputation for being a dictatorship. They do not listen, serve, or seek to move the mission of Jesus forward because they are too busy moving their own missions forward. Yet, even in churches where this is the case, the authority of leadership is not the problem. The true problem lies in the heart of leadership. The Bible calls for a brand of leadership marked by humble service. This is the type of leadership practiced by Jesus; a leadership where the leader is willing to give his life for the people he leads. We are looking for servant leadership that begins in a man's home with his wife and his children prior to being practiced in the church.
3. Consistent Shepherding
The primary function of our elders is the shepherding of the people Jesus has entrusted to us. Our job is to shepherd and lead them toward Him. This is the blood, sweat, and tears of pastoral ministry. It means being in a persons life enough to have a front row seat to the Spirit's transforming work in them, as well as having a front seat to their greatest areas of struggle and sin. It requires loving enough to lean into wherever people are at and leading them toward Jesus. This shepherding cannot be momentary, nor occasional. This is the job and it must be consistent.
In short, we are not looking for perfect men, but imperfect men in pursuit of a perfect Savior. We are looking for Biblically qualified men who live lives marked by spiritual vitality, servant leadership, and consistent shepherding. These flawed, fallen, but forgiven men are the kind Jesus uses to lead His Church.