- Officer Qualifications
- Study: Office of Elder
- Study: Office of Deacon
- Study: Office of Pastor
- Study: Role of Women
- Our Elders
- Our Deacons
- Our Denomination (the PCA)
An Officer in Jesus’ Church must have a heart for God directing hands that serve with the character required.
A heart for God
Being a church officer is a noble task and we honor those who aspire to this service. God describes for us both the duties and the spiritual qualifications for officers in his church. These Biblical qualifications should guide those nominating a man to be either an elder or a deacon. While no one meets these perfectly, those put forward should excel in love and service to both God and neighbor. Both elders and deacons should clearly be men who fulfill Jeremiah 3.15: “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
Directing hands that Serve
The Bible most frequently describes the elder with the metaphor of a “shepherd,” one who cares for and nurtures the congregation, just as a shepherd cares for his flock. Therefore, the elders serve God’s people by caring compassionately for their spiritual needs, by protecting them from false teachers, by visiting them at their homes (especially the sick), by instructing, comforting, and nourishing, by praying with and for the people, and by carefully and diligently seeking the fruit of the preached Word among the flock. The faithful shepherd also seeks out lost sheep, so the elder must be zealous to evangelize the unconverted and make disciples. In addition to these ministry privileges which belong to each elder individually, he also meets with the other elders to govern and oversee the church as a “session.”
The deacon is called primarily to sympathy and service, after the example of Jesus. Thus, deacons minister to those in distress, caring for their physical needs as well as their souls. Additionally, the church building and grounds are entrusted to the care of the deacons, and they are responsible to collect and distribute funds for mercy ministry as well as the church’s general operating expenses. While the deacons serve under the authority of the session of elders, theirs remains fundamentally a spiritual ministry, and men chosen must be of spiritual character, honest repute, exemplary lives, brotherly spirit, warm sympathies, and sound judgment.
With the character required
Two Bible passages especially layout the character qualifications for elder and deacon: 1Timothy Chapter 3 and Titus Chapter 1. As you read through these two texts, the following summary questions may help in the evaluation process (whether you are considering God’s call to you, or whom you should nominate or elect to office).
- Above reproach: Not “sinless,” but is he clear from any major blame, accusation, or censure? Does his life reflect well on Christ’s church?
- The husband of one wife: Literally, “a man of one woman,” is he devoted to his wife (if married)? Are his relationships with all other women appropriate (whether married or not)?
- Sober-minded: Is he clear-headed, well-balanced, and able to make good decisions for the church?
- Self-controlled: Does he think before speaking or acting? Does he have his thoughts and emotions under control?
- Respectable: Do you respect this man? Do others?
- Hospitable: Literally, “loving strangers,” does he open his heart and home to people in need of grace and the gospel?
- Able to teach: While not all ruling elders need be equally gifted in public teaching, does this man instruct with gentleness and humility? Would you seek his advice on important matters?
- Not a drunkard: Does he control his appetites, especially food and drink?
- Not violent but gentle; not quick-tempered: Is he kind and gracious, even when he must be firm? Is he able to be reasoned with, rather than being a bully or unduly rigorous, even during disagreement? Is he slow to anger?
- Not quarrelsome: Is he able to be taught by others, rather than always opposing others’ suggestions? Is he able to receive criticism, to admit when wrong, and to apologize?
- Not a lover of money or greedy for gain: Not that he must be poor, but is he generous? Is he motivated by love for God rather than love of wealth?
- Manages his own household well and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination: Not, “Are his children sinless?” but does he discipline with a proper mix of firmness and gentleness? If he is married, does his wife flourish under his leadership? Does his family love the faith he professes?
- Not a recent convert, wise: Does he have some years of spiritual maturing?
- Well thought of by outsiders: Do non-Christians recognize godly character and conduct in him (even if they do not value it)?
- A lover of good: Does he love the same things Jesus does?
- Upright: Is he fair to everyone?
- Holy: Does he demonstrate maturity and godliness that sets him apart?