The biblical role of elders is to shepherd the flock.  This means that, serving in humility, they are to guide, direct, guard and protect the members of the body, seeking to meet their spiritual needs and assist in any way possible, warning against harmful influences and guarding against false teachers.  They are to provide a scriptural role model and set a pattern before the flock of a rightly-ordered life—with a single purpose, to glorify God— “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, 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; see also 1 Peter 5:1-3).  They are to see that the flock is fed through insightful and accurate biblical instruction and admonition, and be able to refute those who contradict the truth  (Titus 1:9; 1 Timothy 3:2; Acts 20:30-31).  They must be able to manage the church of God (1 Timothy 3:5) and pray for the sick (James 5:14).

 Biblical Qualifications for Elders

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”  (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

  “…if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”  (Titus 1:6-9)

 

  1. Above reproach – Elders must be blameless, presenting no patterns of scriptural disobedience or grounds for accusation
  2. Husband of one wife – Elders must be devoted spouses
  3. Temperate   – Elders must be self-controlled, enslaved to nothing, free from excesses
  4. Prudent – Elders must be sober, sensible, wise, balanced in judgment,  not given to quick, superficial decisions based on immature thinking
  5. Respectable – Elders must demonstrate a well-ordered life and good behavior
  6. Hospitable – Elders must be unselfish with their personal resources.  They must be willing to share blessings with others
  7. Able to teach – Elders must be able to communicate the truth of God and  exhort sound doctrine in a non-argumentative way (2 Timothy 4:2; 2:24)
  8. Not addicted to wine – Elders must be free from addictions, and must be willing to  limit their liberty for the sake of others
  9. Not Pugnacious – Elders must be gentle and characterized by forbearance and tenderness, not having a quick temper
  10. Uncontentious – Elders must not be given to quarreling or selfish argumentation
  11. 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
  12. 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).
  13. 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.  NOTE: Suggested guideline of at least two years from time of SMPC membership
  14. Good reputation with outsiders- Elders must be well respected by unbelievers, and must be free from hypocrisy
  15. Not self-willed – Elders must not be stubborn, insensitive or prone to force their opinions on others.  They must be more interested in service than self-pleasure.
  16. Not quick-tempered – Elders must be able to exercise self-control and patience in difficult situations
  17. Love what is good  – Elders must desire the will of God in every decision
  18. Just – Elders must be fair and impartial.  Their judgments must be based on scriptural principles
  19. 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)
  20. 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

In Acts 6 we see that men were chosen as deacons out of necessity,  to serve the church (see Acts 6:2-3), particularly in the area of ministry that would distract the elders and pastor from performing their biblical responsibility to teach the Word and equip Christians for service.  We recognize the biblical pattern for the plurality of godly leadership under the oversight and watchful care of elders and the supportive leadership of deacons.  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, ongoing roles are mentioned in Scripture, probably because service needs change, and so the role of deacons should be flexible.  Note:  Perhaps this is why qualifications for deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-12) are stressed rather than specific tasks.  In contrast, the function of elders is more stabilized, for spiritual needs are relatively constant.

 

Biblical Qualifications of Deacons

 

“Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Timothy 3:8-13)

 

  1. Individuals of dignity – Deacons must be mature, of sound mind and character, yielded to the Holy Spirit
  2. Not double-tongued – Deacons must demonstrate verbal consistence.  They must not be prone to saying one thing to one person and something else to another
  3. Not addicted to wine – Deacons must be free from addictions, and must be willing to limit their liberty for the sake of others
  4. Not fond of sordid gain – Deacons must be purely motivated in their service
  5. 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
  6. Beyond reproach – Deacons must display a lifestyle free from ongoing patterns of scriptural disobedience
  7. First tested – Deacons must have proven over time that they are faithful and that their walk is credible.  NOTE: Suggested guideline of at least one year SMPC membership
  8. Their spouses must be dignified, temperate—not malicious gossips – Deacons must have spouses that are also devoted to the Lord and yielded to the control of the Spirit
  9. The husband of one wife – Deacons must be devoted to their spouses
  10. 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)

 

             “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”  (Hebrews 13:17 ESV)

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