Should elders have terms or serve for life?

The Bible is silent on this issue, which means that wisdom and a prudent application of broader biblical principles must guide our decision.

  1. While there are advantages to having elders serve for either limited or indefinite terms, the best of both worlds seems to be a system in which i) the elders serve limited terms that can be renewed at the approval of the congregation and ii) the elders must take periodic sabbaticals.
  2. In this way the church has a built in means for graciously removing men from the eldership who for one reason or another should no longer serve. This also gives all the non-staff elders a chance to rest and recuperate from their labors. (The church should find other ways to give their staff elders time to rest, such as yearly sabbatical months.)
  3. On the other hand, apart from these periodic sabbaticals, and depending on periodic re- affirmation by the congregation, this also allows qualified men to continue serving as elders as long as they are able.

(Some of this material has been adapted from Benjamin Merkle, 40 Questions About Elders and
[Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2008], pp. 204-207)