- Lack of Qualified Men
- Lack of Biblical Knowledge
- Fear of Change
Some of his shrewd observations about fear of change apply to more than changing a church’s polity (pp. 189–90, numbering added):
Fear is a motivating factor in the lives of many people, and fear of change often is what holds back a church from adopting and implementing plural eldership.
[Pastors fear change.]
- Pastors fear that the congregation will reject their ideas.
- They fear that the church will split if they try to change the constitution or bylaws in regard to church government.
- They fear that their efforts will fail and the church will be worse off than before.
- They fear having to do the hard work of educating the congregation about eldership.
- Other pastors fear that they might lose some of their power and authority in the church. Newton agrees: “At the root of much opposition to plural eldership are pastors who fear the loss of their authority in the church.”
Those in the congregation are also fearful.
- They fear that things might not be as comfortable as they are now.
- They fear that elders will take authority away from the congregation.
- They fear that they might lose their right to vote in business meetings.
- They fear that their church might be adopting the church government of a denomination different from their own.
- They fear that they might be expected to lead.
- They fear that they might be asked to no longer lead.
But often what people fear most is simply change. They may even acknowledge that such a doctrine is found in the Bible, but they are not convinced that it is worth the trouble of actually conforming their church polity to the Scriptures. Pastors often will talk about the need for changing their church government but never take any steps to actually do anything about it. Fear has become a powerful deterrent to recovering biblical eldership. The Bible, however, tells us that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).