Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.
1 Timothy 4:14
This week, I simply want to use some scripture on the offices of overseer (elder) and deacon to show the simple functions of each. These are two of, but not limited to, the church offices that are utilized in my denomination (PCA). I am currently graced by God and the elders of my congregation to begin a 10 week training for the Biblical office of deacon. I pray that God would bless this endeavor, and keep me in the unity of the faith in the qualifications that I seek to meet and uphold. Once I receive training, and am examined by our eldership, and brought before the congregation, they will decide whether or not I am worthy to be placed in this church office to serve my congregation and community.
These are the scriptural qualifications for an elder, as Paul lists to Timothy in 1 Tim. 3:1-7
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
Again, Peter sets qualifications for the elder in 1 Peter 5:1-4
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;[b] not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
The theme we see from the apostles is one of discipline, self control, teaching ability, pastoral duties, and the ability to rule his own family well. He must be a man of the Word of God, and gentle with the people of God. In all affairs, because he is a protector of doctrine and the flock. Worthy of honor.
Likewise, the deacon is a role that is to be desired by some men in the church and is one of equal, yet distinct importance. Paul writes of the qualifications of deacons in his discourse to his son in faith, Timothy (3:8-13).
Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 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.
Deacons responsibilities are also shown to us in scripture in Acts 6:
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
Deacons are to function in mercy ministry for the body so the elders can guard the faith and be devoted to prayer and scripture. They are to handle distribution of needs to the poor and widows in the church, and be men of the Word as well. They assist the elders in many manners of church activities and serve the local body in good conscience and with self control; worthy of their calling.
Pray for your church congregation’s elders and deacons. They rule and serve you in Christ’s love and mercy. Also pray for me as I am an unworthy sinner in need of grace to fulfill this calling of servanthood, if perhaps God would see me worthy enough through our local ruling body and congregation to do such.