Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. ~ I Timothy 5:22
READING: Titus 1:5-9
Our new church was growing, people were being saved, and after about a year I thought we were ready for a church council. Some of the original core members suggested a congregational meeting where men could be nominated for the elder board. Though I felt uneasy about it, I agreed. Five men were elected from the floor. Four were proven leaders who were already serving in various ministries. The fifth, Fred (not his real name), was in his early 20’s, was not serving anywhere and seemed to have a critical spirit.
His nomination and election knotted my stomach. I knew in my heart I had just made a terrible mistake. Scripture is clear on the character qualities of an elder, most of which Fred lacked. In fact, the woman who nominated Fred said she did it “to help him get involved.”
As a young church planter, I ignored Scripture’s warning not to appoint leaders too quickly. I learned the wisdom of that warning the hard way. Fred was a constant problem, and until he resigned, was an ongoing reminder that it’s far easier to appoint than to remove an unqualified leader.
By my next church plant I had learned my lesson. Yes, you need leaders. But seek an advisory council of mature leaders from outside the church who believe in you and your church plant – other church planters, elders from the mother church, godly missionaries. Then over the course of several years these “outsiders” can help mentor “insiders” from your church plant. You’ll have the benefit of wise, godly counsel without the pressure of appointing too quickly.
Father, Raise up leaders in my new church, and protect me from ever “laying on hands too quickly.” Amen.