The position of pastor and elder are often used interchangeably. The church recognizes spiritual authority and sets apart some leaders for specialized ministry.
Is Authority Good or Bad? We certainly have been on the receiving end of an authoritarian leader, but what about in the church?
- God rules over all: (Daniel 4:34-35) and has absolute authority (Genesis 1:26-28, and we are made in his image).
- God ordained authorities: Governments and Parents (Romans 13:1-7, Ephesians 6:1-4). Authority is good when God ordains it, for our own good.
Elders are Called to Shepherd: We are like sheep in need of a shepherd (Psalm 23:1-6, Ezekiel 34, John 10:14-18, Jeremiah 3:15, Ephesians 4:11, Acts 20:17-38).
The Pattern of Plural Pastoral Leadership: the author leads toward elder rule in a congregation. He is an advocate of shared pastoral oversight. It guards against authority abuse and helps leaders to discuss the direction of the church.
Shepherds After God’s Own Heart: As shepherd, these leaders have a great responsibility.
- They faithfully feed the sheep (Jeremiah 3:15, 1 Timothy 3:2)
- They resist and rebuke false teachers (Titus 1:9-10).
- They care for straying and ornery sheep (Acts 20:28).
- They watch over the souls of church members (Hebrews 13:17).
- They set an example for others to follow (1 Peter 5:1-4).
Elder Qualifications: it’s not for everyone.
- Character (1 Timothy 3:1-7, see also Matthew 5:27-30, 1 Peter 1:13, Titus 2:1-12, Romans 12:13, Ephesians 6:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:12).
- Competence (Titus 1:9-10, 1 Timothy 3:2, 4-5).
Deacons: Servants of the Church (Mark 10:43-45).
- Servants (Acts 6:1-7, 1 Timothy 3:8-13)
- Qualifications (Philippians 1:1, Romans 16:1, 1 Timothy 3:8-13)
- Elders are required to teach, however, deacons are not.
- Elders have oversight and shepherding role over the congregation, deacon have to manage their household well (1 Timothy 3:5).
- Elders are primarily the spiritual leaders of the church, deacon are the servants.
- Defining the deacon’s role: they serve the body and their needs, and preserve the unity of the church.
How Well Do You Follow? (Proverbs 14:28)
- Leaders are nothing without followers. Like a teacher without a class. Like a king without subjects. Like a coach without a team.
- We are all called to serve one another in the church (Mark 10:43-44) and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
- Deacons support (Galatians 6:6, 1 Timothy 5:17-18).
- Deacons submit (Hebrew 13:17).
- Deacons respect and esteem (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).