Do you have elders that you support? Hopefully you do. In your support of them, do you ever complain about some policy of theirs that is in place, something with which you disagree with? Perhaps you have not. On the other hand, perhaps you have. If you have, then you are one of many who have done the same. This usual “course of action” may not always be a bad thing, but it can be.
The men who serve as elders of the local congregation are to be in position to serve the Lord, overseeing the work because of the teachings of the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28). Unfortunately, there are some men who serve who have no real relationship with the Triune God, but only a surface one. It shows. The men who have a surface relationship with God don’t have the Lord’s best interest in view, not even once! Rather, they have their own interest in view or that of another human being, perhaps alongside their own. This is a precursor to church dismay and disarray.
When the Holy Spirit does the leading (teaching), the men who serve as elders are men who should serve as elders. These are men who are committed to the Lord’s way in all things pertaining to righteousness, and moreover, are committed to the individual saint’s spiritual well-being. Don’t you want men like that to serve and lead? I know I do.
These Holy Spirit guided men will apply 1 John 4:1, 1 Peter 4:11, Acts 17:11 and Romans 15:18 in all aspects (and this only includes but a small portion of Scripture to support the point). The men who serve as elders need only allow the oracles of God to be preached, testing all things that are taught in relation to the revealed will of God. Men who do this are guided by the Holy Spirit’s teaching, not some nebulous subjective way of thinking with which many subscribe to today.
What about matters of opinion? In Mark 7, the religious leaders asked of Jesus why His disciples did not walk in accordance with the tradition of the elders (7:5). Are matters of opinion and the traditions of the elders similar? They are in one respect, but in the context of Mark 7, the opinions of the men who lived long before the time of those who inquired of Jesus became more than just a tradition, it became an authoritative rule to be obeyed. What made it worse was with the implementation of their traditions, they necessarily set aside the word of God (7:8).
In the local congregation, the men chosen by the Holy Spirit and the members of the congregation (Acts 14:23) have been chosen for their biblical knowledge, their maturity in years, their maturity in biblical understanding and wisdom in leadership. All of this plays a role in the prerogative of the elders.
Men who serve as elders either put in place or sustain an already-put-in-place policy for the local church. If the so-called policy does not conflict with the express will of God (as in Mark 7), it is their prerogative to do this. Presumably, they believe this is the best approach to the local setting of the saints. I am sure they are open to hearing from the saint’s observations and ideas that would make it better. If they disagree with what is offered, that does not make them wrong. Far from it.
It is to their advantage to let everyone know of the policy and to do so on an intermittent basis, but they have not done wrong in so doing. Such things as the kind of apparel men wear in the leading/assisting in the public service of the assembly of the saints, or the time in which the saints gather together, be it Wednesday, Sunday afternoon, etc. Such things as who the treasurer is, and how often a report is printed for the congregation are important matters, but not so important that some initiate a riff amongst the brethren. Do you think it is?
I have always (or nearly so) thought it is a good policy if the elders of the congregation are transparent in that which is done; the idea of secrecy in the eldership encourages others to murmur and establish their own form of secrecy.
There are some who come into the assembly of the saints (for various reason) who are not aware of all the policies of the congregation; they begin to get frustrated because they don’t understand a rationale for what is done. Sometimes they accuse the men who serve, or one of them, with being dictatorial, domineering or something else when nothing of the sort may be the case. This lack of understanding instills an out-of-place interpretation. How should one approach this difficulty?
Given the men follow God’s word in all other areas, our approach to the men called upon to lead us is for us to submit to their authority (1 Peter 5:5-7). One does not have an option in this matter, that is, if one wants to be pleasing to the Lord. “But, I chafe under their leadership!” someone might say. Perhaps, then, it is proper for you to seek an audience with them, sharing and praying together, trying to address the issue that is bothersome to you.
“It won’t work! I have already tried that,” the critic counters.
I am not as pessimistic as some that it won’t work, but if it is true the prayerful sessions have not worked, then perhaps the failing is less on their part and more on the part of the critic. But, whether it is or not, my suggestion is for each to submit oneself to the Lord, casting all concerns/anxieties on Him; let Him be one’s strength and see what you (personal application) can do to be a positive contributor to the work of the congregation.
It is the prerogative of God that we submit and support those who are leading us. Won’t you?