One of our great challenges of this mission effort has been to establish elderships. A recent poll showed that there are now 326 congregations in Brazil since churches of Christ began sending missionaries 65 years ago. However, less than 5% of these have elders.
In the New Testament, we see that elderships were common in the churches. The difference between then and now may be that the apostles could draw on converts from the ever-present synagogues for their source of potential elders. Some of these were already serving as elders in the synagogue. Whereas in Brazilian culture, they must be grown over a lifetime.
So, it is with much joy that this month the twenty-five-year-old Peixinhos Church of Christ in Olinda (a northern suburb of Recife) reached this important milestone. It came after a long process of preparing the church and selecting men according to the qualifications spelled out in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. The two men appointed as shepherds are longtime members who helped plant and mature this congregation. Antonio Silva (57) is the church’s preacher, and Marcos Vieira (55) is a bank manager.
The elders of the Boa Vista (downtown congregation) were present for the installation ceremony. I was invited to speak on the responsibilities of the elders to the church and of the duties of the church to her elders. We ended with a laying on of hands in prayer.
This was a big day as it’s only the second eldership in the state and the first in nearly 20 years. I hope it will encourage others to follow suit. I know of two congregations in metropolitan Recife that are preparing for it later this year. May God continue to bless His people to fulfill His purpose.
“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)