Plurality; Merriam-Webster defines the word as, “the state of being plural.” That’s not much help. Dictionary.com is a little more to the point with, “a number greater than one.” So, one is not a plurality of anything but two or more is. We must have two for there to be a plurality.
The number two has been on my mind quite a bit lately. We are now in our second attempt to ordain elders for this congregation. This means year two of sermons, prayers, and selections. For me personally, my commitment is to make certain our congregation understands the concept of plurality.
It is a funny word, plurality. It is a concept discussed within churches of Christ more than any other religious group in this country. If you asked most gospel preachers in our movement, “To which denomination do you belong and where is your headquarters?” The answer would almost certainly be, “Our headquarters is in heaven. We are not a denomination. Our churches are autonomous and overseen by a plurality of elders. In fact, Christianity.com lists, “governed by a plurality of elders1.” as number five of their, Ten Things to Know About churches of Christ.
Here is where I must confess a mistake. In an effort not to use the word too much; I would refer to how many men needed to make up a biblical eldership as “two.” For instance; I might say, “If two men are selected on 55-percent of returned sheets, we can proceed to the process of appointment.” What I meant was: Biblical eldership always requires two or more men in the role (Philippians 1:1; I Peter 5:1). We have no scriptural authority for a single overseer. Therefore we must have at least two men to move forward.
In my efforts to avoid using the word plurality too much, I left the incorrect impression that: You could only select two men per sheet. Only two men could be ordained during this process. Or that I felt only two men were ready to be shepherds for our group. If I left any of these impressions on you, I am painfully sorry. Please accept my plea for forgiveness and my repentance is and will be ongoing.
For there to be a scriptural eldership in the church. There must be at least two men with the qualities of overseers. There may be as many as a congregation sees fit. My prayer would be for all congregations to have more than two elders at all times. If I say two, I always mean two or more and since we have never had elders, just ordaining the first two has always been a dream. Not because we can only have two but because, “God please bless us with at least two!” We’ll take three, four, five, but “Please give us at least the first set.” I will do my best to be more clear.
Before I wrap up, please allow me a few thoughts on this being the second attempt at appointment. Our church is different today. We started preaching on this topic in April of 2020. We have new members who have joined us and others who are no longer yoked to the plough at North Second Street. We should not expect the same results from our selection process. We do hope for an outcome that puts this congregation in order as God would have it.
Let’s hold our heads high. We went through the first process without splitting the church. We remain at peace and growing. We did all these things while dealing with the deadliest virus outbreak of our lifetimes. Praise God! Our group showed the humility to choose men to shepherd us. I have no doubt that spirit will prevail in 2022.
Instead of viewing our first attempt as a setback, let’s come to see it as a stepping stone to where God wants us to be. May God bless us with two or more men that will be chosen by our church and who will desire to serve the Lord’s people. With God’s help, we hope to look back on this time as a light and momentary affliction. And yes, you should write in the names of as many men as you feel display the qualities of an overseer. But Lord we are not greedy, “At least give us two…please.”
1 Deibert, Brannon. “Churches of Christ – 10 Things to Know about their History and Beliefs.” christianity.com, 1 Nov. 2018, Accessed 19 Nov. 2021.