Dear BPCWAians, This week, we continue our study on elections in a church. The church must choose her leaders, and they must choose them with understanding of the criteria and what the roles entail. We see, early at the start of the New Testament church, the church chose its Deacons as the church grew. In order that the Apostles would not be overly distracted from the priority of the ministry of the word and prayer (Acts 6:4), the Apostles called “the multitude of the disciples untothem, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business” (Acts 6:2,3).

Biblical Qualifications. Over the next few weeks, we will look at the biblical qualifications for each role in the Church Session. There is a common saying that “more hands make light work”. This is certainly true in the physical realm. More people helping in the kitchen make the toil of cooking less laborious. More helpers during the Busy Bee activity help to cut down the cleaning that each one must do. However, when it comes to Session members, it is certainly not merely “the more the merrier”. Instead, each person joining the church Office (ie, a leadership position in the church as part of the elected Session) has to carefully qualified. The Church is not a business or social organisation, based on pragmatic or business principles. Everything in the Church must be run based upon biblical principles for a spiritual work. Our focus is not simply effectiveness, but upon spirituality first. So, having the right biblical qualifications is not a “good to have” – it is an uncompromising, essential criteria. This helps to ensure that the Session will be united in God’s work according to God’s way. In Acts, we have the Apostles giving God’s requirements. The leaders of the church will affect the “temperature” of the church. Leaders who think biblically will make biblical decisions.

Firstly, the men must have an “honest report”. The person must be reported to be genuine in his Christian witness for God. This individual must be proven to be obedient to the Word in all areas of life, laboured diligently for the salvation and edification of saints, faithful in the defence of the Truth, and trustworthy because of honesty in handling matters and resources. Such a report must be agreed upon as consistently authentic.

Secondly, they are to be men “full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom”. This does not mean that the men have a halo floating about their heads as they walk. Notice that the Bible joins the fullness of the Holy Ghost with wisdom. This denotes a life totally submitted to the Holy Spirit in all things. In addition, it means to say that the leaders must be people who will make decisions based upon the Word of God. He must fear God. This combination produces godly wisdom when making decisions for the church. It begins with leaders who are interested in the study the Word of God. Only with the knowledge of Scripture will they be able to exercise spiritual wisdom. They may have qualifications sought after by the leading commercial organisations, but that does not automatically qualify them for Church leadership. Men who are carnal and have no interest in God’s Word will make decisions against God’s will, because the Bible tells us that “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other” (Gal 5:17). Session members must be lovers of the Bible and to obey it. Hence, they must have a consistent personal study of the Bible, privately in daily devotions, and with the church so that they can grow in unity together with the church. Those who regularly absent themselves from the church fellowships (unless for valid reasons) and show no interest in the study of God’s Word would not be deemed to be men full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom. This is not about something that is done only in the months running up to the elections, but which has been demonstrated in their lives consistently, before and after elections.

Process of choosing. Preparation for the elections does not start just 3 months before the elections. It is my responsibility, together with the Board of Elders, to look out for faithful men that can serve in this church Office. But it is absolutely clear that they must be men that meet these qualifications discussed above, and also that of the respective church Office in which they are to serve (which I shall discuss next week). They must be men who will serve as examples of Christian testimony. They must be men who are committed to our beliefs and will work in unity with us in the church for God. And they must have demonstrated these characteristics consistently in the ministries of the church. They must be people that are committed – not to the title of the Office – but to serving God for the edification of the saints. At the same time, if members wish to propose members for nomination (who must fully meet the biblical criteria), they may get a copy of the forms and submit these proposals to the Board of Elders. Not all proposals will eventually be put up for election. Every proposal, however, will be carefully assessed by the Board of Elders according to God’s Word and the member’s declaration of their beliefs. Finally, if any new Deacons and Elders are nominated for election, they will be required to write testimonies of their beliefs, after which they will be interviewed by the Board of Elders.

The growth of the church must begin with having the right leaders in place. An obedient church begins with obedient leaders. Will you join with us in prayer for this for BPCWA now and in the months to come? When the right spiritual leaders were appointed, “. . . the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7)

Yours in our Lord’s service