“There is a well-respected man who has come to Christ. He used to be an imam. The whole community honors him and his testimony is solid. But he has two wives. Can he serve as an elder?” A church planter asked me this on a coaching call. Not a simple question to answer. This man was the cultural elder and the Person of Peace. Could he not be a spiritual leader too?
Many questions swirl around these issues as we start movements.
What do elders in a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) do? How are they appointed? Who decides who is appointed as an elder?
This is the fourth in a series of articles I’ve been writing about spiritual leadership in Disciple Making Movements.
Each movement needs to prayerfully determine how they will handle these questions. They must consider their own context in light of Biblical principles and the examples found there.
Biblical Principles on Eldership
There are 68 references to the word elder or elders in the New Testament. The Greek word used is presbuteros which has several meanings. According to Bible Study tools, any of these references simply mean those advanced in age. It was also used to mean the Jewish leaders in the council or Sanhedrin. This same word is used for various leadership roles in the Church. Sometimes it is translated elder, other times overseer.