Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Colin calls on Spurgeon who reminds us to preach the gospel more than ever! After hearing of the atrocities at The Baal Network, this quote from Spurgeon is encouragement indeed.
My brother, Juan Sanchez, Teaching Pastor at High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, TX, forwarded links to a collection of talks from the Sovereign Grace leadership conference. Excellent stuff for pastors and their wives.
General-session titles and speakers
The Holiness of God (R.C. Sproul)
The Holiness of Christ (R.C. Sproul)
In the Last Analysis: Look Out for Introspection (David Powlison)
Trinitarian Pastoral Ministry (C.J. Mahaney)
Men’s seminar titles and speakers
Watch Your Planning: The Strategic Role of Personal Retreats (Mike Bullmore)
Watch Your Preaching: Effective Sermon Preparation (Mike Bullmore)
Watch the Spirit Work: Serving Cessationists in Their Pursuit of the Spirit (Craig Cabaniss)
Watch Your Church Calendar: The Importance of Administration in the Local Church (Brent Detwiler)
Watch the Past: Living Lessons from Dead Theologians (Mark Dever)
Watch Your Preaching: The Priority of Proclamation in the Local Church (Mark Dever)
Watch Your Devotional Life: The Pastor’s Communion with God (Rick Gamache)
Watch Your Mission: To Be, or Not to Be, ‘Missional’ (Dave Harvey)
Watch Your Sunday Meeting: Planning the Most Important Moment of the Week (Joshua Harris and Bob Kauflin)
Watch Your Leisure: Learning to Rest with a Full Inbox (John Loftness)
Watch Your Bible Reading: Making Personal Application (David Powlison)
Watch the Sacraments: Recapturing Vital Elements in the Life of the Church (Jeff Purswell)
Watch Your Reading: Developing Breadth and Depth in the Pastor’s Life and Ministry (Phil Sasser)
Watch Your Marriage: Loving and Leading Our Wives (Steve Shank)
Ladies’ seminar titles and speakers
Watch Your Man (Carolyn Mahaney)
Watch Your Priorities (Panel)
Monday, November 26, 2007
It's a fair and a good question. If you put something in print and work through the process of communicating, refining, and sometimes defending ideas, trying to get others to read and understand and possibly agree with you, you probably have some deep-seated reason that drives you to write. That reason for writing probably lies somewhere close to the author's heart. It's part of her or his outlook, a glimpse into their inner workings. And many readers want such a glimpse. They want to make contact not just with the ideas but with the person and motivation behind the ideas. At bottom, I think a lot of people are fairly ad hominem in our reading, especially of polemics.
I've searched for a good answer to the question, "Why did you write The Decline of African American Theology?" I wandered through a a handful of answers, all of them true but none of them quite right.
Tonight I watched an episode of Bill Moyers Journal, a PBS program that sometimes focuses on religious themes and ideas. It was an interview with African-American theologian, professor and author Dr. James H. Cone of Union Theological. Dr. Cone is the author of a number of books very influential among African-American academics and religious thinkers. He is the father of the Black Theology movement, an attempt to do theology with a liberationist ethic from the distinct vantage point of African American experience.
The Moyers interview was prompted by a 2006 lecture that Dr. Cone delivered at Harvard (watch). The lecture used American lynching as a metaphor for understanding the cross of Christ. The entire interview is worth watching if you're inclined. You'll see into the heart and thinking of perhaps the most influential African-American theologian in the last 50 years.
There is much that could be said about the interview. But rather than comment at length, pasted below are two brief exchanges between Mr. Moyers and Dr. Cone. I copy the comments because they finally helped me to say briefly what my motivation was for writing The Decline.
BILL MOYERS: And you say, "The cross and the lynching tree interpret each other. Both were public spectacles usually reserved for hardened criminals, rebellious slaves, rebels against the Roman state and falsely accused militant blacks who were often called black beasts and monsters in human form." So, how do the cross and the lynching tree interpret each other?
JAMES CONE: It keeps the lynchers from having the last word. The lynching tree interprets the cross. It keeps the cross out of the hands of those who are dominant. Nobody who is lynching anybody can understand the cross. That's why it's so important to place the cross and the lynching tree together. Because the cross, or the crucifixion was analogous to a first century lynching. In fact, biblical scholars-- when they want to describe what was happening to Jesus, many of them said, "It was a lynching."
While I don't want to press it too far, I do think there are some interesting parallels between lynching and the cross that can help us better understand the gospel. But what God and the Cross are reduced to in this interview is appalling. No biblically recognizable cross and no glory.
And all I want to suggest is if American Christians say -- they want to identify with that cross, they have to see the cross as a lynching. Any time your empathy, your solidarity is with the little people, you're with the cross. If you identify with the lynchers, then, no, you can't understand what's happening. That in the sense of resistance-- what resistance means by helpless people. Power in the powerless is not something that we are accustomed to listening to and understanding. It's not a part of our historical experi-- America always wants to think it's gonna win everything. Well, black people have a history in which we didn't win. We did not win. See, our resistance is a resistance against the odds. That's why we can understand the cross.
BILL MOYERS: Do you believe God is love?
JAMES CONE: Yes, I believe God is love.
BILL MOYERS: I would have a hard time believing God is love if I were a black man. I mean, those bodies swinging on the tree. What was God?Where was God during the 400 years of slavery?
JAMES CONE: See, you are looking at it from the perspective of those who win. You have to see it from the - perspective of those who have no power. In fact, God is love because it's that power in your life that lets you know you can resist the definitions that other people are being-- placing on you. And you sort of say, sure, nobody knows the trouble I've seen. Nobody knows my sorrow. Sure, there is slavery. Sure, there is lynching, segregation.
But, glory, hallelujah. Now, that glory hallelujah is the fact that there is a humanity and a spirit that nobody can kill. And as long as you know that, you will resist. That was the power of the civil rights movement. That was the power of those who kept marching even though the odds are against you. How do you keep going when you don't have the battle tanks, when you don't have the guns? When you don't have the military power? When you have nothing? How do you keep going? How do you know that you are a human being? You know because there's a power that transcends all of that.
BILL MOYERS: So, how does love fit into that? What do you mean when you say God is love?
JAMES CONE: God is that power. That power that enables you to resist. You love that! You love the power that empowers you even in a situation in which you have no political power. The-- you have to love God. Now, what is trouble is loving white people. Now, that's tough. It's not God we having trouble loving. Now, loving white people. Now, that's-- that's difficult. But, King -- you know, King helped us on that. But, that is a-- that is an agonizing response.
The Decline of African-American Theology is a jeremiad, a long lament over a deep fall. Some will lament the decline, and others will lament The Decline. Of that I'm sure.
But after listening to Moyers and Cone tonight, I realized that I wrote the book because I am deeply sad. I'm sad about the state of the church in African American communities, and the very real eclipse of the gospel where African Americans gather and worship. And I'm sad because I love the Lord, His gospel, His people, and the nations who need the Lord, His gospel, and His people. The book isn't sad, I don't think, but its author is.
To be sure, my motives are alloyed with pride and some other things that need the sanctifying grace of Christ. But at bottom, I grieve that "my people perish for lack of knowledge" of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray this little book may be used by the Lord in the hands of good and faithful saints to turn the mourning of many into laughter.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Also, I want to give some attention to books that have perhaps received some early press that are worthy of some continuing coverage. If you're like me as a book buyer/reader, you probably have a mental list of books that you've noted for purchase and read but sometimes some good ones fall off the radar.
2. In integrity, inspect yourself.
Monday, November 19, 2007
2. There are tremendous gospel opportunities to be explored in these divergent views.
At first blush, hanging seems abhorrent and barbaric. Wikipedia lists 18 countries currently practicing or with a history of legalized hanging. What truly "developed" and "enlightened" nation would consider such a thing? And given the U.S.'s history of lynching, I'm particularly loathe to see talk of it in any country.
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – Jamaican lawmakers are considering resuming hangings in response to rising violent crime, almost two decades since the last person was executed by the noose in this Caribbean nation.
Jamaicans have pushed for the measure, Karl Samuda, general secretary of Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s ruling party, said Saturday.
"Based on our observation, there is a strong sentiment in the country for hanging to resume,’’ Samuda said. ’’We want to make sure the people get their wish.’’
The last hanging occurred in 1988, and five years later, Britain’s Privy Council – the highest court of appeal for many former colonies – ruled that inmates who spend more than five years on death row should receive life sentences.
The ruling, coupled with international pressure to eliminate the death penalty, has led to a reluctance among Jamaican authorities to order hangings. No other type of capital punishment has since been used.
About 45 inmates are on death row in Jamaica, which reported a record 1,671 homicides in 2005 and is considered one of the most violent countries in the world.
Can a local church be a "marital asset"? Here's another reason for a church to choose its pastor wisely and for a husband to choose his wife wisely:
In a case that may be the first of its kind, the wife of a pastor from Baldwin is hoping to win assets from her husband’s church in their divorce proceedings, saying he uses the church as his “personal piggy bank” and that any money he makes from it is partly hers.The entire article here (short read).
In a decision published this week, state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Diamond agreed to hear arguments at trial in Mineola about whether Grace Christian Church in Brooklyn should be considered a marital asset, and ordered that it be appraised. It is one of the first times in New York State history — if not the first — that someone going through a divorce has tried to call a religious institution a marital asset, lawyers in the case said.
Okay... here's something I can't figure out. Why do prosperity preachers have money problems? AJC reports that one popular "evangelist" is having trouble paying the taxes on her $4.5 million dollar compound.
Careful with those powerpoint slides and the music you use. There may be copyright issues at play.
Dr. Fred Price sues ABC for bad reporting. Seems ABC got a fact wrong this time (by no means the first time). But shouldn't there be a mulligan if you got an individual fact incorrect, but what you say is true?
Texas Supreme Court Vindicates Pastor Who Practiced Church Discipline
A Texas pastor who was sued after exercising church discipline has been handed a victory by that state's supreme court. The lawsuit was brought by a church member who refused to repent following a divorce and remarriage.
Does separation of church and state apply to civil charges of embezzlement in local churches?
A Franklin County judge who thought he was delving too deeply into religious matters dismissed a lawsuit accusing a local pastor of taking nearly $1 million from his congregation, which hoped to get the money back in a judgment. (Read entire story here)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
In our attempts to win over our world we must not sell Jesus short. We should continually pray that God would give us the strength to represent him honestly and truthfully, and that his Spirit would use our words to breathe life into our hearers. We should always expect people to reject Jesus and his gospel.
However, it is vital that as we preach him to our world that they get to meet the true Jesus, not some sort of three-wish genie or religious icon. We must preach Christ and him crucified, the message that is foolishness to those who are perishing, but is the power of God to us who are being saved (cf. 1 Cor 1:18, 2:2).
What is the "Ideal Christian Woman"? Wendy Alsup has some thoughts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
One thing complementarian pastors face as they seek to instruct others in the biblical understanding of manhood and womanhood is the question of abuse. In our culture, where abuse is a real problem and where people breathe the air of feminist egalitarianism, complementarians need to demonstrate real and proactive concern for this real problem. To that end, CBMW has an expanded statement on abuse that might be helpful.
While you're at the CBMW website, you might check out the audio from their Different By Design Conferences. A lot of good stuff for the listening:
Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Women's Ministry in the Local ChurchnSusan Hunt
Different by Design 2007
Session 1 Russell D. Moore
Session 2 J. Ligon Duncan, III
Different by Design 2005
Manhood and Womanhood in Creation and Marriage: A Biblical Defense Wayne Grudem
Session 2 C. J. Mahaney
Different by Design, Wheaton
Feminist Revisions of the Doctrine of God Bruce A. Ware
Disciplines of a Godly Woman Barbara Hughes
How and Why to Preach on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood R. Kent Hughes
The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Including the TNIV Wayne Grudem
A Practical Look at Role Relationships in Marriage R. Kent Hughes
Different by Design, Florence
The Joy of Homemaking Jodi Ware
Raising Feminine Daughters Jodi Ware
Manhood and Womanhood in the 21st Century Paige Patterson
Different by Design, Orlando
Does Galatians 3:28 Negate Gender-Specific Roles? Peter R. Schemm, Jr.
The Myth of Mutual Submission Peter R. Schemm, Jr.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
And something can be learned from the "other guy," too.
Registration is now open for our 2008 pastors conference. The theme is "The Pastor as Father and Son." The speakers are John Piper, D. A. Carson, Crawford Loritts, and Greg Livingstone. In his invitation, John Piper explains why we're doing this topic and why he chose each of these speakers.
Because of the theme, we would really like pastors to come to the conference with their sons and their dads. So, besides making the full price as reasonable as possible, we are offering a special: With a full-price registration, a pastor may purchase admission for his father and sons for $50 each.
For those who have come to our past conferences, please note that this event will be at a new venue. It will be held at the Minneapolis convention center. Check out the travel info for details.
This is certain to be a great conference, as usual. For many men, it will be the most engaging and tender conference they'll ever attend. I love the idea of a father-son conference. My Lord removed my father from this life in 2000. As some readers will know, my father left my life when I was around age 14. We were not close, though I trust we loved one another.
The father-son theme got me to thinking... would it be cool for those of us who are without earthly fathers or sons to take along:
1. A father who perhaps has a son serving overseas in the military, or who has lost a son in combat; or,
2. A younger man, a "son" in the faith, who is estranged from their father or has lost their father in this life.
It wouldn't be precisely the same as being their father and son, but it could be a rich time sharing together nonetheless.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
But we were served extraordinarily well by Michael Leach, Michael Horton, Ken Jones, Anthony Carter, Redditt Andrews, Tom Ascol, Sherrard Burns and host pastor Rickey Armstrong. As I did last year, I'll just provide below a few quotes and thoughts that struck me:
Often times you hear evangelicals asking the question "What's your testimony?" If you ask someone that question, they will tell you what happened to them. If you ask the Apostle Paul, he tells you what happened to Jesus. (Explaining that the Gospel is God's message, a testimony concerning our Lord)
Are you driven more by promises or purposes? Doesn't living life according to our own purposes become a burden? (Meditating on Abraham's faith in Genesis 15)
Salvation is another ex nihilo creation.
Election is the foundation for the superstructure of redemption.
Election is the way God does God's work.
Ken Jones on "The Creation of Man and the Gospel"
Adam is not just the first man and a role model, but our corporate representative. We do not get the gospel right if we do not understand the federal headship of Adam
Ne plus utra! (Trust me; you had to be there! Get the disc!)
Fleeing and being afraid are new concepts and pictures in Genesis 3. Where do they come from? From within Adam's now sinful heart.
The gospel is the only thing that saves sinners. The way the gospel works guarantees this.
All biblical preaching is a gospel sermon.
It's not what you profess but who you possess.
Three things that should be granted in this discussion: (1) hypocrites will fall away; (2) if God relaxed His grip on us we would all fall away; and (3) saints can fall into sin. Having said that, genuine believers do in fact complete the journey to glory.
Perseverance is really a discussion of the nature of conversion. Regeneration is participation in divine life.
God preserves the inheritance and the inheritor.
Faith is the state God induces in the believer to preserve us for heaven. God perpetually inclines the soul to look toward Him always. When God preserves us, He inculcates our striving.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
- The church is not doing enough to address problems (youth, homelessness, etc.)
- The church and Christians are not open-minded; they’re backward and discriminatory.
- The church and Christians—especially preachers—are out for your money.
- If the church has the truth, why are there so many divisions and denominations?
- The church is obsolete and unnecessary, and Christians are dangerous to society.
- The church and Christians are boring, not exciting, killjoys, dead.
- Christians are self-righteous and mean.
- The church is full of hypocrites.
That last complaint, the church is full of hypocrites, probably covers a lot of the other problems and complaints. Many people in the world, in one way or another, consider Christian people and the Christian church as a whole… hypocritical.
And, let’s face it. Many of the critiques I just read out… are on the money—at least for some churches and professing Christians.
- There are Christians who are self-righteous and mean.
- There are Christian preachers and churches who care more about money than people.
- There are Christians and churches that are not open-minded in the best sense of that phrase… who are stuck in some bygone era and unable or unwilling to take the truth and engage contemporary society.
- And Christians are a quarrelsome lot. We divide sometimes over the most insignificant things.
It will not do for us to just ignore such criticisms. Yes, the people who raise them are likely hypocrites themselves. But that’s what we’d expect to find out in the world.
But is it what we should expect in the church? Have our critics done us a service by pointing these things out? Do we agree with them? If we agree, what are we to do?
The Apostle Paul comes to his final qualification for elders/pastors in 1 Timothy 3:7--"Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil."
It turns out that what unbelievers think of us really does matter, especially for potential elders and leaders. A man who desires to be an elder must have a strong reputation with those outside the church. These outsiders, non-Christians, are witnesses certifying and corroborating the potential elders' testimony. It's not that folks are neutral about him; "he must be well thought of." The opinion must be positive. If a man is well-regarded inside church but poorly regarded by non-Christians, he is not a suitable candidate for the Christian ministry.
The reason Paul gives under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is similar to the reason given for why an elders hould not be a new convert but mature. A poor outside reputation makes a man vulnerable to falling into disgrace or a trap of the evil one. How many men in pastoral ministry with poor reputations have tarnished the witness of their local church, the Name of Christ, and the gospel? That's precisely what the enemy of the elect wishes to have happen--men falling on their own sword of poor reputation and bad living in the name of Christ.
Elders are to commend the gospel and everything that conforms to sound doctrine. Even the Christian's enemies should feel ashamed about their evil comments in the face of a life lived well for Christ (1 Pet. 3:16). These are the kind of men we are to pray for and look for when it comes to the office of elder.
Some Questions and Observations (Please feel free to add others)
1. What does the prospective elder's non-Christian neighbors and co-workers report about him? Are they witnesses to what they would consider Christian or un-Christian behavior in the prospective elder?
2. Is there evidence that the outsiders' opinions are accurate or inaccurate? It is improbable that Paul intends the local church to take the opinion of non-Christians without reflection and discernment. Paul himself would not be judged by any man when that judgment was unfounded and where faithfulness was demonstrable (1 Cor. 4:1-4). Likewise, the local church should neither dismiss the opinion of outsiders regarding her leaders or swallow "hook, line, and sinker" any charge brought aagainst a man.
3. Does the prospective elder engage in the affairs of the wider community? A prospective elder should be salt and light in the world. That will be reflected, in part, in the non-Christian relationships he maintains and the civic and community contributions he makes.
The call to serve Christ as an undershepherd is a high call. Not everyone may take the mantle of leadership in the church. Those called must be examples to the flock in every area of life (1 Tim. 4:12). Such men must be models of devout faith inside and outside the church, commending Christ and the gospel to all. And yet, apart from being able to teach, the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 are characteristics that every Christian should increasingly possess by God's grace and the work of His Spirit. May the Lord be pleased to grant us both the blessing of faithful, reliable men to lead our churches and the fruit of His Spirit.
Other posts in this series
Introduction: Finding Reliable Men
Temperate, Self-Controlled, Respectable
Able to Teach
Sober, Gentle, Peacemaking
Not Lovers of Money
Leaders at Home
Mature and Humble
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
But when we were there, it was hard to find a good local church to attend. I'm sure that had more to do with our ignorance than the churches in the area. But I'm thankful for one brother I've been getting to know who lives and ministers in the Bay area, Justin Buzzard. Justin blogs over at Buzzard Blog and if you haven't already, you should check him out. And if you live in the Bay area and you're looking for a church, check out Central Peninsula Church while you're at it.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Many of you will remember that in concert with the 2006 Together for the Gospel Conference a meeting was held called “The Band of Bloggers.” The outcome of that fellowship was the gathering of over 70 bloggers all across the country. While the event was a success and encouragement to many, it has been our desire to build upon that vision with a more concentrated and collaborative effort for the upcoming 2008 Together for the Gospel Conference.
On Tuesday, April 15, 2008, we will gather for the second Band of Bloggers fellowship. The meeting will take place during lunch just prior to the first session of the T4G conference at the Galt House in downtown Louisville. The theme for the 2008 Band of Bloggers is “The Gospel Trust,” and the guest speakers who will comprise the panel include Tim Challies, Justin Taylor, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Mark Lauterbach. With a strong blogging community in Louisville, Said at Southern will facilitate in hosting the event.
Plans and preparations are being finalized, and more details will be forthcoming in the near future. More information as well as articles, interviews, and podcasts will be available here at the new Band of Bloggers website. Be sure to subscribe to the BOB feed for further updates.
Friday, November 02, 2007
The Lord's next requirement for those who would lead His church as under-shepherds is that "He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Tim. 3:6).
New believers are like new children, the freshness of new life encourages and excites us but there must be the recognition that they are vulnerable. Their lack of maturity requires that time be taken to instruct, shape and care for them. Because they need such care, they are not themselves sufficiently equipped to provide pastoral level care to others.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Every family requires leadership. The church is no different. So, it's surprising that the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit adds another qualification for those who desire to be overseers in the Lord's family, the church. He writes, "He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?"
Notice the urgency and insistence about these qualifications. The prospective elder must possess these qualities. That's said of all the qualities, but here it has a louder ring to it. There is no way for a man to be a qualified elder and not be in the habit of consistently managing his own household well. He simply must. And this managing of the home is prerequisite to serving as an elder. It's not something that is "learned on the job;" it is a minimum qualification for even accepting the application. An inability to manage this smaller household by definition means a man can not manage God's larger household, the church. And an elder is called to nothing less than tending to God's family and household.
And, notice that it's "his own" household that must be managed. Women get an unfair and bad rap being sometimes stereotyped as busy bodies and meddlers into the affairs of others. Well, here, Paul warns against men who may be too preoccupied with the affairs of others and too little occupied with things going on under their own roof. One thinks of Eli's hasty and mistaken rebuke of Hannah as she prayed while abdicating responsibility for his wayward boys in 1 Samuel. An elder tends to affairs at home.
To "manage" his home includes both the supervision of his family as well as the nurture of the family members. If a man only supervises but fails to nurture, he may be either a tyrant or an absentee landlord. Neither is fitting for a father, much less an elder. If he only nurtures but fails to supervise, he may play the part of the permissive "good cop" and "friend" to the children but never give appropriate guidance. He is to govern the home but with gentleness and concern for each member of the family. The word "manage" here is the same word used of the Good Samaritan who risked himself to bandage and care for the wounded man. The Samaritan responded with caring supervision and concern. This is what the prospective elder will be called to do in the church.
The apostle tells us immediately what this good management concerns. It is "with all dignity keeping his children submissive." Paul has already addressed the fact that the prospective elder is to be "a one-woman man," indicating the singleness of heart he has for his wife if married. He will love her as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5). But here, Paul has particular concern for a father's relationship with his children. The NIV renders this "see that his children obey him with proper respect." The word "dignity" can apply either to the father in his role or the children in their submission and obedience. And, actually, one would expect both with a qualified elder. Such a man is worthy of respect and it shows in how he leads his home. He is dignified, respectful or reverent. Correspondingly, his children should treat him with respect and reverence. There is to be a mutuality in this regard.
Some Questions and Observations (Please Share Others)
1. Is the prospective elder attentive to his home? Does he provide leadership to the affairs of his home? What does his wife say about his involvement? Does she commend him or tend to camouflage lack of involvement with rationalizations? Supervising the home can be measured in a number of ways, from knowing and attending to the family's finances to leadership in decision-making about the kids' education to the physical upkeep of the home itself.
2. Does the prospective elder care for his children? Is that care demonstrable for each individual child? An elder will often be called to tend the individual members of the flock. It's wise to observe that tendency in a prospective elder with his individual children.
3. Do the children submit to their father? Are they obedient to their father? Is it evident that they respect their father and regard him highly? Or, is the relationship characterized by animosity and rebellion? Obviously, the particulars of the situation matters here. It may be that a child is spiritually lost and struggling, yet still obedient and respectful to their father. Paul's instruction here doesn't call for a perfect home and perfect children--none exist. So, it's as wise to ask if the father is managing the home well in the midst of difficult circumstances, his children showing proper respect despite the present challenges.
4. Would the children say that the father is qualified to serve as an elder? Age and understanding matters here. But if the children are old enough to understand the decision at hand, would they support their father as worthy of the office? What grounds would they give for affirming or denying a man's qualification? Sensitivity is required. But what our children see in us is likely to be what the church sees in us--only our children tend to see it first and without the mask of religious hypocrisy.
5. For single men or married men without children, it would be important to know what their attitudes are toward children and child rearing. Is he opposed to having children or is he postponing having children (if married) for some period of time? In that case there may be selfish tendencies shaping his life. For single men, it might be worth considering whether the man has other opportunities for shepherding children that serve as a proxy of sorts on this issue. Does he volunteer with any ministries or community programs that serve youth? Does he have nieces and nephews? Does he volunteer to care for children of other families in the church? If so, how do the children in those programs respond to him and how does he care for them? Workplace relationships may provide a similar proxy.
The Lord requires that His church be managed by men who know how to supervise and nurture His children. To a great extent, that is the task of pastoral ministry. And where are we to find these men? Where else? At home taking care of business. May the Lord be pleased to raise up men gifted for the task.