@ THE BRIDGE FELLOWSHIP, TOKYO.
Training of potential elders falls under the broader category of discipleship within our church. Therefore, we begin by looking at a culture of discipleship in the church. The health of a church largely depends on the health of its leaders. Therefore, potential elders will have been trained as disciples and disciple-makers in (a) Gospel Formation Group. They will have led (b) Bridge Community Group faithfully where they learn to disciple other leaders, and provide pastoral care. They will have led their families well in the gospel (if married), and will have demonstrated an ability to serve under authority before they are appointed to be in authority. They are “not domineering over those in [their] charge, but being examples to the flock”( 1 Pet. 5:3). They will have learned to speak the gospel to their own hearts, even as they speak the gospel to others. They will have learned to be good listeners even as they expect others to listen to their teachings. They will have gone through (or undertake) some theological training (formal or informal) and demonstrate a good working knowledge of the Bible.
character, competency and compatibility.
Elder candidates at The Bridge Fellowship are those whose character has been vetted/ tested over an extended period of time. Hence, they must meet the biblical qualifications mentioned in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1: 6-9. Paul said to Timothy, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). They must demonstrate the ability to teach and pass on the gospel to others. The pre-requisite or pre-conditioning of an elder candidate is being found faithful to the gospel as servant leaders. They understand that true greatness is not taken, but given (Lk. 9:48). This faithfulness is seen in the life of a person over an extended period of time. They are tested for godly character, able to teach sound doctrine, able to support the ministries of the church, able to defend the theological distinctives of our church, able to work with existing elder (s) in implementing the core values and theological vision of The Bridge Fellowship, Tokyo. Most of all, they must be shepherds at heart after the Chief Shepherd Himself.
Note: The notes above are not meant to be exhaustive but serves as a brief introduction to what our elder process at The Bridge Fellowship, Tokyo may look like.