Elder Affirmation Process
God identifies certain qualifications for elders in a local church (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9) and will hold all elders to account for their service to His flock (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17). Here is a brief explanation of our process at Trinity Evangel Church for testing and affirming current elders as well as recognizing candidates for possible eldership.
First stage (near the beginning of April): Conduct a formal review by all current elders of all current elders. This review will include but is not limited to the following:
- Are you meeting all of the character qualifications for elders found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1?
- Are you aspiring to the office of elder? (1 Timothy 3:1)
- Are you faithfully paying “attention to yourself and to your teaching”? (1 Timothy 4:16) In what ways do you believe that “all may see your progress”? (1 Timothy 4:15)
- Do you fully affirm the doctrinal statement of Trinity Evangel Church (per the requirement to “hold firm the trustworthy word as taught” Titus 1:9)? Do you have any new hesitations about anything in the statement and, if so, what are they?
- How would you describe the spiritual fruitfulness of your shepherding and discipleship responsibilities?
- Do you believe that the congregation affirms your eldership?
Second stage (near the end of April): Announce elders and candidates (who were introduced the previous year) to the church.
Third stage (throughout May): Provide one month for discussions, both for recommending new candidates for eldership as well as working through any concerns with current elders.
Anyone may recommend a man for consideration to be an elder. Men recommended during this time and affirmed by the current elders will be introduced as candidates to the entire church. Any prospective elders will be “tested” for at least a year following the principles for testing deacons in 1 Timothy 3.
Fourth stage (near the end of May): Acknowledge and affirm the elders at a public service of the church. Announce any elder candidates who will serve in testing for the following year.
- We hope that our church would never need to depend solely on this review in order to deal with unqualified leaders. In other words, elders and the flock should be addressing problems throughout the year. Nevertheless, the formal review has liturgical value for the entire church.
- We expect all believers to observe the process outlined in Matthew 18 when it comes to confronting sin, namely, to start by confronting “between you and him alone.” However, observing a man’s qualifications (or lack thereof) for eldership may concern something that isn’t necessarily a sin issue. The one with concern is encouraged to speak personally to the elder/candidate but, if he feels intimidated or is concerned that he will be blown off, he is encouraged to take a witness along with him. If that does not resolve the concern, the other elders should be included in the process.
- When it comes to nominations of candidates and concerns for current elders, the flock is encouraged to speak, in person, to the persons involved. We believe that face to face conversation ought to supersede written notes, letters, or emails.
- We encourage men to speak on the behalf of their families in relaying concerns regarding an elder or elder candidate. If an unmarried woman has concern, we encourage her to filter her concerns through her Life to Life leaders.
- We will publish the above process, including the review questions, on the church website as an ongoing reminder of elder accountability.
Additional Process for the First Time
- Invite all men to read and discuss Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch.
- Invite feedback about the process at a regular Men to Men meeting.
- Solicit feedback from the initial group of men who signed the letter of intent to start Trinity Evangel Church.
Listen to the Elder Affirmation Process (explained during our evening service on May 20, 2012) as well as the First Affirmation (during our Lord’s day worship on July 1, 2012):