Bible Answer

Raising Biblical Leadership in the Church

What does the Biblical model for raising leadership in the church look like?

The Biblical model for raising leadership in the church is provided in numerous places in the New Testament, but perhaps the clearest example is provided in Paul's letter to Timothy:

Titus 1:5  For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you.

Paul tells Timothy (a man Paul himself elevated into leadership) to appoint elders in churches. By Paul's example, we see clearly that existing church leaders can and should install other leaders over congregations. These appointments should be done in recognition of the Spirit's call and anointing, as Paul acknowledged in Timothy:

2Tim. 4:5  But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 

On the other hand, we never hear in scripture of leaders being elected in any church body, though that practice is common in churches today. The absence of such an example in the Bible doesn't necessarily invalidate the use of congregational elections, but it should lead to doubts concerning its legitimacy. Certainly, the Lord can (and does) work through many styles of church government, including congregational styles, but given the absence of congregational election in scripture, we caution against its use.

We should remember that the condemned, apostate church of the Last Days, as represented by the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3, is said to be a church where the people rule over the church. The last days church is apostate, in part, because of its democratic style of governance, where the "sheep" rule over the shepherd demanding that the shepherd tickle ears. The congregational style of governance makes possible such corruption on a wide scale, bringing about the great falling away Paul predicts in his letters. (For more on this teaching, please consult our Revelation study.)

Therefore, we believe that new church leadership should be selected from among men called and anointed by the Holy Spirit and ordained by existing elders. These men may assume ministry opportunities as the Lord directs.

For more teaching on this topic of church leadership, we recommend the following resources:

Presbuteros, Episkopos, Diakonos

Pastor Accountability

Restoring God's People - A Study in Ezra & Nehemiah