Why does the church need elders? This is a question that many people have asked us – perhaps you are wondering the same thing. To get at the heart of that question, we would actually first expand that question to this: Why has God designed the church to have elders? Why are they needed? There are many passages in the Bible that talk about what elders do and why it’s significant. We want to talk about Titus 1:9-16.
First, Paul mentions that elders must be firm on the gospel in order to teach and rebuke.
This is Titus 1:9. Elders must have a firm grasp on God’s word, and here is why…
Second, Titus 1:10 states that elders are needed who understand the gospel and God’s word because there are threats to the church.
There are people who deceive other Christians. Such people are insubordinate to God and to His word. Their beliefs, their teaching, and their life are out of line with God. The effect is that the church is hurt by such people.
Here’s an example of what that type of people looked like in Paul’s day. Look at verse 11: There are people in Crete who are ruining entire households of believers. These empty talkers are telling Christians that they must return to the old covenant if they are going to remain Christian. They need to observe the Jewish law and holidays, and that is a problem. When people tack on extra things to the gospel, you inevitably lose the gospel. This is why Paul says, “They must be silenced.” These rebellious people are outright undermining the work and unity of the church. They are a threat.
This is where elders come in. They are appointed by God to provide for and protect the church.
As crazy as it may sound, there are people from the outside world that seek to infiltrate the church and devour the flock. These wolves may come in the form of people who claim to be Christians, and like at Crete, they will spread false teachings. Or these wolves may come in the form of teachings from the world. You see, many Christians are led astray by what they hear and see from the world. There are threats to the church. Your faith is being attacked from many angles, and elders are sent by God to protect you. To speak the gospel truth to you.
But the attacks do not end there. Listen as Paul continues. Threats can even come from elders themselves. This is scary! And we have seen this. Elders have the capacity to destroy a church and we’ve talked about that in our post “Loving the Other” from Luke 10:31-32. That is why elders cannot be chosen haphazardly. Rather, they must be carefully and prayerfully selected. Threats exist.
To protect His church, God has appointed elders. That is why elders are necessary. So, do you see why elders are needed? There are innumerable threats against your soul and this church. Elders are appointed by God to protect you spiritually.