Why is it so important to have elders? Inspired by God, Paul has instructed Titus to appoint elders in every city of the mission field island of Crete. Paul has instructed Titus on the qualities and characteristics that the men must possess that he would appoint. He then moves on to show the two major reasons why it is so important that congregations have elderships (Titus 1:9).
First, it is important for congregations to have elderships because of the need for exhortation. While there are many ways, areas, and people involved in all types of encouraging, this is special. The church needs genuine spiritual leaders to exhort the brethren to do those things that are right in the sight of God. He is holding fast the word of God to do so. He puts it in his own life, and in his teaching. Both through his example and his instruction, he is encouraging the brethren to live lives in accordance to God's word. Just as a shepherd must feed his flock, an eldership must make sure the Lord's church is fed a steady diet of God's word.
Second, it is important for congregations to have elderships because of the need for refutation. He is about to describe those men who are contradicting Truth in the next few verses. However, their existence is a reality. The church needs genuine spiritual leaders to protect the congregation from those who would attack the faith of the membership through false teachings and false practices. He is holding fast the word of God because he must know The Book in order to shut down false teachers. Just as a shepherd must defend his flock from dangers, an eldership must protect the Lord's church from those who would tear it apart.
In a small missionary church, it takes time for the congregation, and individual men, to grow to a point where there are a plurality of men qualified to serve as elders. However, it must be an area that a church is growing and working towards. Undoubtedly, there comes a point when a church needs to appoint elders. That is evidenced by the fact that Paul is instructing Titus to appoint them. But remember, this is not just a title: it is a needed work. The church needs shepherds exhorting good and refuting error if she is to grow. The church needs genuine spiritual leaders who will hold fast the faithful word!