Christian Debatorial Works
The concept of elders as spiritual leaders of congregations of the Lords' Church has ever been a key criteria in the division between denominations and autonomous assemblies. Most of the major Christian denominations see the eldership ultimately as a judicial body of "clergy" presiding over groups of congregations, whereas autonomous congregations defer only to elected elders within their own individual congregation.
Criteria for elders: From 1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9
1. Must be male, as the Scriptures always refer to the elder as "he".
2. Must be the husband of one wife. This may be mostly an injunction against polygamists. It would be a matter of interpretation whether this would prevent remarried men, either through divorce or death of the wife, or unmarried men from becoming elder. For an article on unmarried ministers, see Unmarried Ministers
. For an article on divorced ministers, see Remarriage of Pastors
3. Must be above reproach, meaning that he would be difficult to disgrace, scorn, or discredit. He would thus be respectable.
4. Must be self-controlled, not violent nor quarrelsome, but gentle.
5. Not given to drunkenness nor the abuse of alcohol.
6. Not greedy, nor a lover of money.
7. Must be hospitable.
8. Must be able to teach others.
9. Must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. Children (some would say living in his household that are of the age of accountabilty) must be Christians, and they must not be wild or disobedient.
10. Must not be a recent convert, but have had time to mature in the faith.
11. Must hold firmly to the truth, so that he can refute those with bad doctrine and uphold those with good.
12. He must love those things which are good.
13. He must desire the position of elder.
Duties of the elder include:
1. Must direct the affairs of the church, 1 Tim 5:17
2. Praying over and annointing the sick with oil, James 5:14.
3. Serving as an example to others, 1 Peter 5:3.
Other passages regarding elders:
1. Elders are to be rebuked publicly if they sin, 1Tim 5:20.
2. They are worthy of double honor, 1 Tim 5:17.