How should elders be selected?

Nowhere does the Bible give precise instructions concerning how churches should select elders. Yet there are biblical principles and patterns that should inform how churches go about this process:

  • Because the current elders are entrusted with spiritually overseeing the church (1 Tim. 5:17), they have a responsibility to lead the church in selecting new elders.
  • Because the congregation is finally accountable for the teaching they choose to listen to (Gal. 1), elders should be appointed by the express consent of the congregation.
  • How to balance these two principles is a matter of prudence. One way to recognize both biblical principles is (i) to have the elders nominate prospective elders and then (ii) to have the congregation vote to recognize them. That way the elders are the ones examining a man before putting him before the congregation, yet the congregation’s decision is decisive.

(Some of this material has been adapted from Benjamin Merkle, 40 Questions About Elders and
Deacons [Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2008], pp. 199-203)