The government of Oikos shall be under the Lordship of Christ and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit as exercised through Elders comprised of those who the Lord has gifted to rule as Elders. The Elders will be assisted in this capacity by various deacons, officers, committees and staff as set forth in the bylaws.
6 An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseern is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless–not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
I Timothy 3:1-7
1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
· Since we are all fallen creatures and we are continuing in the process of sanctification, it is recognized that elders will occasionally fail to adhere to the enumerated Biblical Qualifications listed below. Elder’s live should not have a pattern of failing to adhere to the qualifications and they should respond to their failures with humility and a ready heart of repentance.
· The office of elder is reserved for men.
· An elder must not be a recent convert to Christianity.
· An elder must not be divorced since the time that he has accepted Christ. In an age of serial monogamy, he must be a one-woman man and preserve his marital fidelity.
· An elder must live a life of purity, making a covenant with his eyes that he would not sin against God.
· A man whose children are living disreputable lives or whose children do not acknowledge Christ has a burden and a mission field that should be attended to before assuming responsibility over the house of God. An elder must have a demonstrable family life that manifests the character of Christ. His children should not be willful or rebellious and he should enjoy a Christ filled relationship with them.
· An elder must not be given to fits of temper that overwhelm his ability to lead in counsel, worship and teaching. He must not resort to using physical or vocal aggression to solve problems or to express his point of view.
· In most cases, an elder should abstain from the public consumption of alcohol. This guiding principle (rather than firm rule) recognizes that alcohol is not strictly forbidden to Christians, but the elder is called to make sacrifices for the sake of the body of Christ. This is in the spirit of Romans 14:19-20, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” In the American culture, advertisement and popular sentiment is for alcoholic consumption to lead to drunkenness and a decrease of inhibitions. Our culture is one of excess where there are many who struggle with alcoholism. In I Corinthians 10:31-33, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”
· An elder must not be a materialist who places value on things rather than on God and people.
· An elder must open his home to the members of the church. He must share his material resources and deal graciously with members of the body of Christ and the community.
· An elder must love the Word of God and manifest this love through teaching, rebuking and correcting. .
· An elder must be in control of his emotions and temper and lead others in doing the same.
· An elder must have a good reputation among the members of the church community and the community at large.
· An elder must strive to lead his family in Bible study and worship on a daily basis. He must be devoted to the power of prayer and perform his own daily personal devotions.
· He must not use obscenities and he should endeavor to pursue Christ-likeness in all areas of his character.
· An elder must believe that the Bible is the revealed Word of God and that it contains all that is necessary to life. He must agree that all Scripture was given by inspiration of God, is infallible and inerrant, and is the final arbiter in all disputes. He must believe that the Bible’s authority is derived from its Author and not from the opinions of men. The elder must agree with the Doctrinal Statement of Oikos. If there are any areas of disagreement with the Doctrinal Statement, the elder must outline his areas of disagreement with the eldership prior to accepting his post as elder.
· An elder must be able to teach the young and the old from the Word of God. He must have the courage and convictions to address doctrinal error and to replace those errors with sound teaching.
· Elders must agree with the Home Group Philosophy espoused by Oikos Community Church. If there are any areas of disagreement, the elder must outline his areas of disagreement with the eldership prior to accepting his post as elder.
· Elders must concur with the Family Integrated Philosophy espoused by Oikos Community Church. If there are any areas of disagreement, the elder must outline his areas of disagreement with the eldership prior to accepting his post as elder.
· An elder must affirm that he will do everything possible to resolve both personal and congregational disputes quickly and to keep the unity of the church in the Spirit of Christ.
· An elder must resolve issues of personal bitterness quickly and personally with the involved party or parties. This must be done with the grace and forgiveness of Christ.
· An elder must trust in the wisdom of the elders as a corporate body which is led by the Holy Spirit even when his position is not accepted as the church’s course of action.
· At a minimum, an elder must commit to tithing to Oikos Community Church.
Recognition of Elders
To be recognized as an elder at Oikos, one must be set forth as a possible candidate by the existing elders of the church. Once a candidate has been identified and has expressed interest, a meeting date will be set by the presiding elder/pastor. During the course of this meeting, the life and doctrine of the candidate will be examined closely. Once the body of elders is unanimously satisfied with the candidate’s life and doctrine, the candidate will be invited to assume the duties of the eldership.
The new elder will be recognized by the elders during a special portion of the weekly worship service. The existing elders will lay hands on the new elder and pray for the Holy Spirit to bless his ministry.
Duties and Obligations
Elders will conduct their office in the word and spirit of Titus 1:6-9. They will have responsibility for working with the presiding elder/pastor in determining the spiritual course of Oikos Community Church.
Duties and obligations minimally encompass the following:
· Teaching – Elders are expected to participate in Oikos’ home groups, discipleship or central teaching activities. Elders should teach classes or actively disciple someone at least 10 times a year.
· Home Group Leadership – Elders are expected to participate as leaders, organizers or hosts of Oikos small groups. Elders should agree to the Oikos Home Church Philosophy.
· Lifestyle – An elder is responsible for maintaining his lifestyle in conformity with the Biblical Qualifications listed above.
· Visionary Leadership – Elders help to guide and direct the vision of Oikos Community Church. While the visionary function is held first and foremost by the senior teaching elder, elders should help to mold and shape the direction of Oikos through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
· Spiritual Headship – Elders will be called upon to resolve disputes within the church among its members. Elders must use the Bible as their primary source for resolving conflicts and should make sure that they are walking closely with the Holy Spirit when exercising discernment.
· Learning – A leader cannot lead people where he has not first gone. An elder must be dedicated to expanding his mind and reading the Word of God and the works of the saints.
If an elder is not able to meet the minimum requirements, he should voluntarily remove himself from the eldership of Oikos. If an elder’s peers find him to be remiss in meeting his duties and obligations, then a meeting will be convened to discuss these issues with the elder in question (I Timothy 5:19-20). There are times when personal or family issues would necessitate an elder stepping down for a period of time in order to find or bring healing.
Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task (I Timothy 3:1).