We have been questioning the value of the practice of religion that is disobedient to the Word of God. (177) Since God has spoken, taken great pains to get His Word translated into all of the majority languages of the world, motivated the education of vast numbers of people so that they have the ability to read that Word, and has revealed what He desires from the children of men, what do you think His reaction is to people who form themselves into churches and then act like He hasn't spoken?
Under this general thesis we have been asking about church leadership. The Bible calls for local elder rule in the local churches. (179) It doesn't stammer, nor stutter, in this call. To anyone who goes to the New Testament with the honest desire to see how God wants His Church to be organized, there is no question about His requirement for local elder rule.
But, as we said in a related article, (180) it is not enough that there be local elders to rule the churches. They must also be men whom God recognizes as spiritually mature in the practice of godliness. And who would that be? The answer is not hard; for it is given in the three letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus in which he gave the leadership requirements of local elders. For example, in Titus 1:5-9 Paul sets forth the requirements. He says that the local elders must be, first of all, blameless, the husband of one wife, having children who are not accused of riot or unruliness.
It is a matter of constant amazement to me that the local churches today almost totally ignore this first requirement: that the elder must be a family man who knows how to rule in his own family so that his children are under control. In 1 Timothy 3:4-5 Paul pointedly says that the home is the proving ground for leadership in the church. If a man does well at home, he will be more apt to do well in the church; but if he does not well at home, he is incapable of doing well in the church. This means that God sees the church as an extended family. It also means that it takes some learning time at home before a man can qualify for leadership in the church.
This raises two questions: 1) Does Paul's requirement eliminate a man who has no family?; and 2) What does this mean in light of the amazing requirement by some churches that the leadership be unmarried?
Let's address the first question in this article and the second one in the next. Does Paul's requirement eliminate a man who has no family? Here we must answer in terms of probability. Since Paul himself was unmarried, it is highly improbable that he would eliminate himself from church leadership since he was the primary instrument of the formation of church leadership in the New Testament. Second, it is improbable that the marriage and family issue is an eliminator of possible leaders in itself because Jesus Himself taught that some people make the decision for themselves to remain unmarried in order to accomplish the will of God without distraction. So, the requirement is not a final requirement. It could probably be written, if a man is married, he must be blameless...etc.