Dear BPCWAians, Today, we will continue looking at the qualifications for Elders, as taught in the Bible.

Of Good Behaviour – A Pastor and an Elder must be men who are kosmios, literally meaning orderly and well arranged. God is a God of order, and everything in His house must “be done decently and in order” (1 Cor 14:40). Their lives must be in order in all aspects. This includes how they carry themselves and how they carry out work. In other words, the person holding this Office must seen as orderly in deportment, manners, and how he carries out his duties. In his personal life, he cannot be unkept, haphazard, and disorganized. It does not mean he must be dressed in expensive clothes, but scruffiness can be a sign of general carelessness. He must be able to carry himself properly in all social and church engagements, and understand the proper decorum in manners and speech. However, this is not to please or impress man. Just as one would expect a nation’s President to dress, speak and behave in a manner suitable for the Office he carries, the Office of an Elder is an important Church Office. So, an Elder must reflect the proper and refined behaviour and etiquette of someone carrying an important Office in Christ’s church. But there is certainly more than just being orderly in deportment. He must also be orderly in organizational work. There are some that seem to look down on good organisation and planning in the work of God, as if not planning meant that one was on a “higher” plane of spirituality and faith. But a lack of planning (when such planning is possible) is also a sign of laziness and negligence, not spirituality. The Elder must not be one that hopes that things will turn out at the last minute “somehow, somehow” because he does not put in the time and effort in planning for it. This shows a lack of personal responsibility in caring for God’s Church. How can the Pastor or ruling Elder plan, lead, and organise the church if he has not the proven abilities to do so? The operating of the church is more complex than meets the eye. Overall planning for activities, timing of events, and resourcing requirements all require proven skills to carry out the oversight work in the church of God. The church looks to the Pastor and Ruling Elders for an orderly church. No Pastor or Ruling Elder can ever claim that he does not have administrative and organisational skills but God has called him to this Office simply because he is “spiritual”. The spirituality of the man is a baseline expectation. But at the same time, God requires the spiritual leader holding this Office to physically administer the church. If we expect the Church camp to have been planned for and run in an orderly way by the Camp Master, how much more is expected of the Elder who is required by God to administer His local Church? We are not saying that the church is to be like an efficient factory production line. But it must reflect the orderliness of God, as the house of God, in how it functions. And an Elder must uphold that, and have a life that reflects order and decorum. He cannot rule the church properly if his own life is not in order. He cannot be someone whom even others in church would not entrust a church program to, because he is unable to represent the church well, both in decorum and organizational abilities. These are all part of the good behaviour that is expected of an Elder.

Given to Hospitality – Literally translated, it means “loving strangers”. One can be very loving and hospitable to their family, relatives, best friends, and close circle of friends, people that they are familiar with. But the Pastor and Ruling Elder must demonstrate more than that. It first starts with the regular worshippers at BPCWA. An Elder joins with the Pastor not just in the administration of the church, but also in “visiting the sick and sorrowing members” (Article 15.6). This means that he must first be genuinely interested and care for the family of God in the church, beyond the group that he can “click” with well. He is interested in all regardless of age, background, even if they are not in his fellowship group that he can “talk easily” with, or whether they are singles or married. For purposes of Church organisation, Elders may be assigned responsibilities for certain ministries on which they may focus more of their time on. But these ministries may change depending on the needs of the church. His service extends across the whole church, and not just merely to a fellowship group. His ability to administer, organise and interact at all levels is expected. He is not just an Elder of the Youth Group, nor of only families, nor of the Seniors alone. Ultimately, the Elder must demonstrate himself to be able to care and reach out to all age groups. You see, the man must not desire the role of the Elder just to be seen in a position of power, or to be in control for decision making that the Office entails. An Elder is truly a man who is addicted to the ministry of the saints because of a love for the saints. The authority of the Office is for the care of everyone, not just those he likes or only those that have similar interests to his. If such a care is not evident in his life to those that he sees every Sunday at church, then it will not be demonstrated to those that are new in church. God brings through the doors of BPCWA many who have just arrived in Perth to stay. They may be young or old, rich or poor. They may be singles or families, students or backpackers. Is he friendly to them, does he welcome them? A person who wishes to hold this Office but says he does not show interest or warmth towards these “newbies” simply because he does not like to talk to strangers, is awkward with unfamiliar people outside his usual circle, is saying that he is not qualified for this Office. He cannot be someone who sticks only to his age group and familiar friends, and does not give himself to engaging and caring for people who are outside his own circle. Equally important, a test is whether people of all age groups and backgrounds respond to his engaging them. Besides this, does he show a genuine spiritual care for these visitors? Often, this spiritual care would demonstrate in the physical care too, helping them, showing hospitality to them in ways that demonstrate the graciousness of the Saviour whom we serve. It may mean preparing meals for these ones who are new to Perth, or other actions that will help them to feel welcome and show Christian love. It may mean inviting them over to his house to be part of the family that they may miss, being away from home. And this is one reason why the husband must rule his home well. How can he be hospitable if his wife does not tend to the home, if she does little to look to the husband’s needs? Would she be willing to support her husband in showing hospitality to a stranger? The Elder thus does not love in words, but shows hospitality in deeds – even if it is not seen by others.

Yours in our Lord’s service