Monday, February 05, 2007

Ed Stetzer on Elder Rule in SBC Churches

8. The issue of elder rule has been controversial in many churches. What is your perspective on ruling elders as an expression of Baptist church polity and ecclesiology?

I am not comfortable with “ruling elders” as Baptist ecclesiology. I am comfortable with “leading elders.” However, a case could be made that part of the “church tradition” among some Southern Baptists is that Deacons served very much as leading elders. In recent years however, there has been a concerted effort by churches to return the Deacon to the role of “servant.” This has, in some cases left a void of leadership that many are now finding filled by some form of “elder” leadership.

At the church I serve as a volunteer, I am a pastor/elder and we serve as a plurality of elders. We see that there are two church offices—pastor/elder and deacon. We think that there are some pastors/elders who teach and some who do not. In the near future, our church may add some pastor/elders to our leadership who do not preach.
But, I am a congregationalist. I think that churches need to choose their leaders—and ruling elders tend not to do that. Ruling elders tend to be a self perpetuating board. I think that the final seat of authority, under the Lordship of Christ, is the congregation. They choose their leaders under the Lordship of Christ.

Also as a congregationalist, I think churches can choose their leadership structure. I think that the roles of pastors and deacons are biblically described and prescribed, so they should exist. I don't really care what people call them, but the roles and offices do exist and they are biblical. Many great SBC churches have pastors/elders/deacons, pastor/administrative team/church council/deacons, etc. Names are less important than roles and offices.


Blogger martyduren said...

"plurality of elders"

You've co-opted my phrase! I think it is an important distinction, though, and one that needs to be made.

5:59 AM  
Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

I have to ask if there's biblical precedent for the congregation choosing the spiritual leaders. All I can recall is elders being appointed, but the people at large choosing the deacons.

I come from a Presbyterian background, and still see that form of church governance as biblical.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please comment in the section "meet ed stetzer"

3:46 PM  

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