Eldership advocates are not only misguided in what they believe about elders, but they are also mistaken in their crusade to pressure Baptist churches into adopting elderships. Their error is enlarged by their misleading interpretations of scripture and historic Confessional statements. Such is the nature of their self-confidence and arrogance, that many churches are giving in to this pressure through sheer intimidation. Churches should not fear eldership advocates or their high claims to have received a monopoly on the truth. However, it may be asked, “If appointing elders is not the proper mode for the governance of a church, then what is the alternative?” The alternative is the scripturally approved, practically efficient, and historically validated method. Namely that:
The Lord Jesus Christ, as Chief Shepherd (1 Pet 5:4), retains absolute authority over His church (Col 1:18), by the rule of the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim 3:14-4:2). He has blessed His church by giving to each local congregation an under-shepherd (Eph 4:11), identified by the official title of bishop (Phil 1:1), whose responsibility it is to feed and lead His people in and through the Word of God (Eph 4:12-16). The bishop receives assistance from a group of deacons who act as an advisory committee in both spiritual and financial matters (1 Tim 3:1-13). As the bishop regularly instructs the congregation in the Holy Scriptures, and the deacons support his ministry by example and encouragement, the church’s members are equipped to exercise the necessary discernment in making decisions on matters relating to itself.
Jared Smith served twenty years as pastor of a Strict and Particular Baptist church in Kensington (London, England). He now serves as an Evangelist in the Philippines, preaching the gospel, organizing churches and training gospel preachers.