A Suggested Process for Selecting and Appointing Elders

By Royce Frederick

The Bible does not tell us exactly how to select elders. Each local church must prepare its own plan to accomplish this task. This article gives a suggested process for selecting elders and for appointing them to lead the local church. The Bible refers to these same men as the presbyters (elders), bishops (overseers), and pastors (shepherds). Remember that this process is only a suggestion. It is presented here so you will have some ideas for preparing your own plan. The process for selecting elders can also be adapted for selecting deacons. — Royce Frederick

SELECT A GUIDANCE GROUP — The entire church should carefully study the teachings of the New Testament about the qualifications and duties of elders. Then, after much prayer, the preacher and other men of the church could choose a small group of men to serve as the “Guidance Group.” This Group will guide the church through each step of the selection process. These need to be humble, respected men of prayer who are able to work peaceably with others.

FIRST SUNDAY announcement: We are asking every member of the local church to help us select elders for the church which meets here. Please help this week in these ways:

(1) Pray for wisdom (James 1:3), and pray for this important work of selecting elders.

(2) Carefully read again the qualifications of elders in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. If you cannot read, some of the members will be happy to read these verses to you.

(3) If you believe that some of the men in this church have ALL of the qualifications in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, write the names of those men on a piece of paper. If you are not able to write, please ask one of our members to write the names for you. Please understand that you are not “voting” for these men. You are suggesting that the church consider the possibility that these men could be appointed as elders.

(4) Plan to bring your paper with the men’s names to the worship assembly next Sunday.

SECOND SUNDAY announcement: Please give your paper to the Guidance Group today. We will make a list of the names of all men who have been suggested. This week, two members of the Guidance Group will talk privately with each man on the list. We will ask each man:

(1) Do you choose to remove your name from the list? If you do not want to serve as an elder, or if you believe that you do not have all of the qualifications of an elder, you do not need to explain your reasons.

(2) If you leave your name on the list, and if the church decides that you possess all of the qualifications, would you serve diligently as one of our elders?

THIRD SUNDAY announcement: The Guidance Group will now read the names which remain on the list. (Read the names to the church. It would also be good to give each member a printed list of the names.) During the next two weeks, please consider the qualifications of these men. If you believe that any man on this list does not possess all of the qualifications in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, please tell your reason privately to one of the men in the Guidance Group. Then, if any of those reasons need to be discussed by the Guidance Group, they will meet and discuss them prayerfully. If they need to talk with one of the men on the list about his qualifications, two or more members of the Group will meet with him privately.

(1) After considering all reasons, if less than two men have been found who are qualified, the process will end, and we will announce that no elders were selected. We will also pray that the church will be able to appoint elders at a later time in the future.

(2) If two or more men have been found who are qualified, we will announce their names on the fifth Sunday.

FIFTH SUNDAY announcement: We are happy to announce that the church has found men who are qualified and willing to serve as elders. Their names are _________. Next Sunday, these men will be appointed as the elders of this church. In preparation for this important event, we ask you to pray, and we encourage you to consider fasting in your own private way, for whatever amount of time you may choose (see Acts 14:23; Matt. 6:16-18). Also, please invite your family and friends to come next Sunday and witness the appointment of elders.

SIXTH SUNDAY, APPOINTING ELDERS — The preacher speaks about the Lord’s church and elders, then announces:

With the help of God, and guided by His written word, this church has found that the following men possess the qualifications to become elders, and they have agreed to serve as elders of this church: _________. At this time, I request those men to come and stand with me.

As I briefly place my hands on each man, it does not mean that there is any power in me. Instead, it is a way to acknowledge and declare that this man has been chosen by this church to serve as one of its elders. According to Acts 20:28, the Holy Spirit makes these men elders of the church. (To the elders): I charge you to be diligent in caring for each member of this flock, and diligent in overseeing the work of this church. (To the church): I charge you, the flock, to honor these men and cooperate humbly with them as your shepherds.

In the words of Paul to the elders of the church at Ephesus, Acts 20:32, “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

Let us close with a prayer for our new elders.