“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock among whom the Holy Spirit has bade you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which he purchased with His own blood. “
1 Tim. 3:1-7 As churches were established in the faith, and more than one person.
Acts 14:23 became qualified, elders were appointed to continue the pastor-teaching.
1 Pet. 5:1-4 ministry in each local church. To the elders was given the ultimate
Acts 20:28- responsibility for the oversight of that particular church body, and the
32 shepherding of its members.
Elders (Titus 1:5-7; Acts 20:28)
Presbuteros (Greek, meaning “elder”) were appointed in the wake of the work of the apostle Paul to provide the continuing pastoral and teaching care in each local church.
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. “
1 Timothy 5:17
Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders
Some elders, by virtue of their spiritual gifts, would give more time to the spiritual leadership of the church than others, and would thus be called to more demanding responsibilities. They would therefore be worthy of “double honor” (usually understood as respect plus monetary compensation).
THE BIBLICAL ROLE OF THE ELDERS
1. Shepherd the Flock:
Serving in all humility, Elders are to guide, direct, guard and protect the members of the body, seeking to meet their needs and assist in any way possible, warning against harmful influences and guarding against false teachers.
“Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians, to feed the church of the Lord which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:28, 29) Also see I Peter 5:1-3.
- Lead Through Example:
Elders are to provide a Scriptural role model and are to set a pattern before the flock of a rightly ordered life–with a single purpose, to glorify God.
“Elders are not to be domineering over those in your charge but to be examples to the flock. ” (1 Peter 5:3)
- Teach and Exhort:
Elders are to see that the flock is fed through insightful and accurate Biblical instruction and admonition.
“He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9) Also see I Tim. 3:2.
- Refute Those Who Contradict Truth:
Elders are to confront those who are teaching what they should not teach or who are continuing in a pattern of behavior contradictory to Biblical truth. Thus, Elders are to keep closing potential entrances for Satan so that the truth of Christ will remain credible to both congregation and the community.
“And from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” (Acts 20:30, 31) Also see Titus 1:9.
- Manage the Church of God:
Elders are to oversee the life of the church, with the assistance of deacons and other godly leaders. They must be people who can “rule well.”
“For if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church?” (I Tim. 3:5) Also see I Tim. 5:7.
- Pray for the Sick:
Elders are to pray for the spiritual and physical well-being of members of the congregation.
“Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” (James 5: 14)
BIBLICAL QUALIFICATIONS FOR ELDERS
“The saying is sure: if anyone aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task.” (I Tim3: 1)
“An overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping children under control with all dignity…and not a new convert, he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. ” (1 Tim 3:2-7)
“If a man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion…above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word…that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict.” (Titus 1:6-9)
- Above Reproach – Elders must be blameless, presenting no patterns of Scriptural disobedience or grounds for accusation.
- Husband of One Wife – Elders must be devoted spouses.
- Temperate – Elders must be self-controlled, enslaved to nothing, free from excesses.
- Prudent – Elders must be sober, sensible, wise, balanced in judgment, not given to quick, superficial decisions based on immature thinking.
- Respectable – Elders must demonstrate a well-ordered life and good behavior.
- Hospitable – Elders must be unselfish with their personal resources. They must be willing to share blessings with others.
- Able to Teach – Elders must be able to communicate the truth of God and exhort sound doctrine in a non-argumentative way. (2 Tim 4:2•, 2:24)
- Not Addicted to Wine – Elders must be free from addictions and must be willing to limit their liberty for the sake of others.
- Not Pugnacious – Elders must be gentle & characterized by forbearance and tenderness-not having a quick temper.
- Uncontentious -Elders must not be given to quarreling or selfish argumentation.
- Free from the love of money – Elders must not be stingy, greedy or out for sordid gain. They should not be preoccupied with amassing material things, but rather should be a model of giving.
- Manage Own Household – Elders must have a well-ordered household, a healthy family life, and well-behaved children. (Pertains to those children still under the authority of the parents).
- Not a New Convert – Elders must not be new believers. They must have been Christians for long enough to demonstrate the reality of their conversion and the depth of their spirituality.
- Good Reputation with Outsiders – Elders must be well respected by unbelievers and must be free from hypocrisy.
- Not Self-Willed – Elders must not be stubborn, insensitive or prone to force opinions on others. They must be more interested in service than self-pleasure.
- Not Quick-Tempered – Elders must be able to exercise self-control and patience in difficult situations.
- Loves What is Good – Elders must desire the will of God in every decision.
- Just – Elders must be fair and impartial. Their judgments must be based on Scriptural principle.
- Devout – Elders must be reverent, continually desiring to be separated from sin. They must be devoted to prayer, the study of Scripture and the guarding of their own spiritual walk. (Acts 20; 28).
- Holding Fast the Faithful Word – Elders must be stable in the faith, obedient to the Word of God, continually seeking to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
NOTE: Suggested Guideline: at least two years from time of SMPC membership
“And the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable for us to neglect the Word of God in order to serve tables. But select from among you brothers, seven men of good reputation, full of the spirit & of wisdom, who we may put in charge of this task. “
When it became necessary, men were chosen as deacons to serve the church, particularly in the area of ministry that would distract the elders, pastor, and other leaders from performing their biblical responsibility to teach the Word and equip Christians for service. These leaders, along with all members of each local body form a unique organism–a visible and functioning expression of the universal church. SMPC recognizes this biblical pattern for the plurality of godly leadership under the oversight and watchcare of elders and the supportive leadership of deacons.
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy, not grief, for this would not be profitable for you. “
1 Cor. 16:16, 1 Thess. 5:12,13 In response to the biblical pattern of leadership, members of the body are 1 Thess. taught in Scripture to lovingly support their leaders and to follow their guidance.
BIBLICAL ROLE OF DEACONS
“And the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, tlt is not desirable for us to neglect the Word of God in order to serve tables. But select from among you brethren, seven men of good repute, full of the spirit and of wisdom, who we may put in charge of this task.'” (Acts 6:2, 3)
Deacons are to serve under the direction of the elders, undertaking those areas of service necessary for the church’s functioning that would otherwise prohibit the elders and other leaders (pastor and staff) from performing their Biblical responsibilities. No specific, on-going roles are mentioned in Scripture, probably because service needs change, and so the role of the deacons should be flexible. (NOTE: Perhaps this is why qualifications for deacons are stressed rather than specific tasks. In contrast, the function of the elders is more stabilized, for spiritual needs are relatively constant.)
While there is actual equality between elders, deacons, and, in fact, all members of the body, for the purpose of order Scripture indicates that elders, as overseers, are entrusted with the final authority within the local church.
QUALIFICATIONS OF DEACONS
“Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be husbands of only one wife and good managers of their children and their own households. ” (1 Tim. 3:8-12)
- Individuals of Dignity – Deacons must be mature, of sound mind and character, yielded to the Holy Spirit.
- Not Double-Tonuged – Deacons must demonstrate verbal consistence. They must not be prone to saying one thing to one person and something else to another.
- Not Addicted to Wine – Deacons must be free from addictions and must be willing to limit their liberty for the sake of others.
- Not Fond of Sordid Gain – Deacons must be purely motivated in their service.
- Holding to the Mystery of Faith with a Clear Conscience – Deacons must have a sound knowledge of Christian truths and a lifestyle in accord with them. They must not be easily swayed from the truth.
- Beyond Reproach – Deacons must display a lifestyle free from on-going patterns of Scriptural disobedience.
- First Tested – Deacons must have proven over time that they are faithful and that their walk is credible.
- Their Spouses Must Be Faithful, Dignified, Temperate – Not Malicious Gossips – Deacons mut have spouses that are also devoted to the Lord and yielded to the control of the Spirit.
- The Husband of One Wife – Deacons must be devoted to spouse.
- Manage Household Well – Deacons must have well-ordered households, a healthy family life, and well-behaved children. (Pertains to those children still under the authority of the parents).
- NOTE: Suggested Guideline: At least one year from SMPC Membership