Our churches tend to fall into an annual spring-time routine of replacing outgoing elders with a new crop. And while we often try to have more nominees than we have positions to fill, that isn't often the case. In fact, sometimes we appoint elders by acclamation.
I recently attended a church where it was announced -- to much fanfare -- that the church leadership had been praying for new elders and that, after two years, they are finally recommending two godly men to serve the church as elders. They had interviewed potential elders but they fell short when compared to the scriptural characteristics of what an elder should be.
Imagine that! That caused me to reflect on the election process in our own churches for the past generation or two, and at how we elders were often admittedly holding our noses when we asked someone to serve as elder ... mainly because we needed a warm body to fill the position as district elder.
I wonder out loud if we have watered down the nature of office and especially the role of elder as spiritual overseer. I wonder what kind of message it would send to the congregation if we simply didn't appoint 'replacement elders' one year because, well, we just couldn't find anyone qualified enough.
Ministers are teaching elders, theologically trained and spiritually astute. Should we set a higher standard for the kinds of elders we appoint or elect?
Perhaps more to the point, do we need to re-think the way we identify the 'leadership' of the church?