Churches Of Christ/Elders hiring and firing ministers


First let me say I am not a preacher/minister nor have I ever been. The congregation where I attend is not currently planning to hire nor fire anyone. That being said, I see no example or inference that preachers were hired or released by elderships in the NT church. I do, however, see a minister apparently identifying potential elders and then appointing them to serve. Do we (churches of Christ) have this relationship between elders and evangelists backwards?
Thank you for your input.lmr82


The answer to your question is, it depends on with whom you are speaking.

Paul (and by extension the rest of the Apostles and therefore, God) believed that congregations should be nurtured and protected by a group of (relatively) mature men (see Paul's discussion with the Ephesian elders and his instructions to Timothy and Titus). Paul therefore, directed not located preachers, but his personal messengers and workers to set congregations "in order."

The fact that Paul calls a couple of his boys "evangelists," isn't overly relevant to the discussion because these folks had a different mission than our current preachers. They were acting as Paul's personal reps to strengthen churches with which Paul was concerned. Neither Timothy or Titus were expected to remain in their locales, having been left or sent for a specific purpose. They weren't told to appoint preachers, but elders. After Timothy and Titus left those cities, who would appoint additional elders?

(Caveat: today's church of Christ preachers do tend to believe that they are supposed to appoint elders, and apparently they are taught that in seminary.)

What are the responsibilities of elders? It is quite simple - to feed the flock and be responsible for the souls in the congregations. Preachers, properly understood are hired to provide spiritual services to the congregation, presumably based on the wisdom of the elders who theoretically know what nurturing the congregation needs.

Once elders are appointed, they assume the responsibility for the spiritual maturity of the congregation, including what sort of preacher is needed and how long they might be needed in a particular congregation.

Personal view:
Churches of Christ have indeed confused the relationship between elders and preachers. We produce preachers who believe they are supposed to be "in charge," and fail to train elders properly. However, our failure to fully grasp the accountability of elders to God does not thereby justify our having let the arrangement get confused.

Does that help? Clear as mud?


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Hoyt Roberson


I can answer just about any doctrinal, relational, or Scriptural question from a "traditional" church of Christ perspective, and from perspectives of somewhat more progressive congregations. If you want an answer from a particular perspective, let me know that up front, and I'll respond in that vein. If you want to peg me on the liberal-conservative spectrum, I would suggest a bit left of center. Depending on the question though, I might be far left, or perhaps rather toward the right.


I have fifty years as a member of Churches of Christ. Over those five decades, I have taught teen classes, adult classes, served as a deacon and congregational administrator, Lay Leader at two military congregations, and finally as a shepherd of a 500 member congregation. Most of the congregations I have been a member of have been "mainline" congregations, but I am quite familiar with more conservative and more liberal congregations and views as well. I read and subscribe to various books and periodicals for churches of Christ, and have discussed a variety of topics with representatives of our various groups both in person, and via mail. One of my Masters degrees is from Pepperdine, so let that guide your understanding of my formal training.

Christian Association for Psychological Studies, American Association of Christian Counselors, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.


I hold a Masters of Ministry degree from Pepperdine University, as well as a Masters of Counseling degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Phoenix.

Awards and Honors
The greatest temporal honor I have had is to be an elder for ten years. The next greatest temporal honor is having been asked to preach for our current congregation.

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