Dear BPCWAians, Later this year, BPCWA will be having our Triennial Elections. This is a time when communicant members will elect the leaders of the church for the next three years. This is an important matter concerning the church, hence all members should keep themselves available to attend the elections on the 17th of September. This is also why the date is published early to help you plan ahead.

In order to choose the right leaders for God’s church, everyone must clearly understand what God teaches in the Bible concerning the qualifications and role of each of the church leaders. We will look at various aspects of this over the coming weeks. I hope that by covering this series, members can keep all this in view as the date of election nears. But some may wonder – what is the church election about? Is the election of the Session important to the church? What is the relationship between the church and her leaders?

What is the church election about? Church election is when members vote for the leaders to serve and lead BPCWA for the next 3 years. Hence, it is in effect choosing what BPCWA would be in time to come. Election is about members choosing the leaders whom they know will keep BPCWA on track – Biblically and Constitutionally. Election is really every member’s responsibility and opportunity (by the election of the men they choose to vote for) to ensure that BPCWA will remain sound and safe in faith and practice. Thus, election impacts the spirituality and direction of the church for you and your children. This is because the persons elected will have the members’ mandate and authority to lead the church. So when you elect someone, you are making the choice, saying “I entrust the direction, running, and care of the church in a Biblical way to you on behalf of me, my family, and my fellow members in BPCWA”. It must be equally clear therefore to anyone who wishes to stand for election that the person fully understands the spiritual responsibility and is able to live up to the commitment for the task to which they are elected.

Is the Church election important? Our triennial election is not merely voting persons so that we have a Board and Session. The church election is very crucial because the leaders in the Session represent the congregation in the decisions and course of the church. Much good or much damage can be done in 3 years. Choosing the right persons will help ensure the church will do that which is right in God’s eyes, thus having God’s presence among us. The opposite can result when we elect wrong persons. So, one cannot vote someone merely because “he is willing to stand and serve, so let us vote him. After all I am not serving, at least he is willing.” The church who refuses to vote in a God-honouring Session cannot say that it was God’s Hand and out of their control. It is after all we who put in the vote. In other words, one cannot vote irresponsibly and then say, “I leave it to God to intervene”. Voting is a member’s duty and it must be taken seriously as each member is accountable before God for their vote as well. Every member, new or old, took a vow to obey the leaders of the church in matters consistent with the church’s doctrinal position and stand. Hence, the leaders you vote in must truly be convicted of and personally promote and live the church’s Biblical stand. After all, you chose to become a member based upon these values and therefore are willing to subject yourself to the leadership of those who have these convictions in life and practice, in private and in church.

Ultimately, during election, you are voting in people that will represent you in moving the church forward in a manner consistent with the church’s doctrinal position. If a man must give an account of every idle word spoken in the day of judgement (Matt 12:36), what more of a vote of the Church’s Officers? Though it is secret to man, it is known to God. It is therefore a member’s responsibility to do so wisely and prudently. Hence it is not only important to the church, it is important to you before God.

Who to elect? Simply put, the church election is a time when – once in 3 years – members take a prayerful assessment of its leaders to vote into office “only those with the essential qualifications and who are in full agreement with the doctrinal stand of the Bible- Presbyterian Church, in particular with its Principle and Practice of Biblical Separation” (Article 13.3 of BPCWA’s Constitution).

Unlike the world, the church election is not a competition, nor is it a seniority based promotion. Each candidate is assessed based on their own walk with God, convictions, willingness and ability to fulfil the biblical criteria and roles God has set for each church leader. What the Bible says must be a “go-no go” filtering gauge for whether you decide to vote for the person. It is not based on friendships. It is not dependent on whether you will personally stand to benefit or lose out from this person being in that church office. It is not how sociable, vocal or how quiet the person is. Also, seniority in age alone or how long the person has served in that office is also not the key criteria for determining suitability. We should not simply vote or promote someone into an office in church because he fits our personal preferences or self devised criteria, even if he does not meet the Bible’s spiritual qualifications. God willing, we will visit these in detail in the weeks to come.

Yours in our Lord’s service