As soon as there are a plurality (two or more) of scripturally qualified men to serve. It takes time to know the background and conduct of men sufficiently enough to know whether they are qualified or not. It also takes time to qualify men for the job. Sometimes, when a congregation is started, it starts with a nucleus of find and faithful Christians from another or other congregations. Sometimes such men from other congregations are almost elder material when they come to the new congregation. In such cases, it won't take long to qualify and appoint elders in the new work. But in other instances, almost every member in the new congregation is a new convert and therefore it will take longer to have elders.

Someone might be ready to say: "Well, Paul and Barnabas and Titus could know by inspiration whether a man was qualified for the eldership or not and therefore time was not necessarily involved". That might be true, but the qualifications that were written down by inspiration, are the same now as they were then... We can determine whether a man has such qualifications or not. And besides, it was not left up to the preacher, whether inspired or not, to select the ones qualified for the eldership. That was always the prerogative of the membership according to what information we have about choosing qualified men for certain duties. And I feel that the same course can be followed in the selection of men for the eldership.

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