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Ask A Pastor: What is the biblical basis of terms for consistory members?

Question:

What is the biblical stance on term limits for consistory members (Elders and Deacons)?


Answer:

The Bible gives us definite qualifications for officebearers in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. It highlights a man’s godliness rather than his gifts. When those qualities are recognized by the church a man may be called to serve as an officebearer in the church of Jesus Christ. A man may serve as an officebearer as long as a church recognizes these God-given qualities in his life; as long as he is able to fulfill the duties of the office; and as long as the man himself desires to serve in office he could remain an officebearer. Nothing in the Bible forbids this practice and it is common in most Presbyterian churches.


Now all that being said, as churches our officebearers (with the exception of the minister) have served for a ‘term’ after which he ‘leaves’ office or is ‘re-elected’ to serve again. Our churches have left the length of service up to the regulation of the local churches because the Bible doesn’t give any specific direction on this matter nor does it give any restrictions other than those we have mentioned. Some churches allow ‘re-election’ to serve in office; others require one year off while others even two years before being eligible for the consistory again. Some of the churches have shorter terms (3 years is the shortest I know) while others have longer terms (the longest I am aware is 6 years). 


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