Church Government

TWO OFFICES: ELDER AND DEACON

The Bible’s teaching on the subject of two church offices is found in 1 Timothy 3:1-16 and Titus 1:5-9. Although there are three terms used for the offices of the church, i.e. bishop, elder and deacon, analysis of these terms indicates that bishop and elder are used interchangeably.

ELDER QUALIFICATIONS (TITUS 1:6-9)

  •  Above reproach
  •  Able to teach
  •  Husband to one wife
  •  Not addicted to wine
  •  Temperate
  •  Not antagonistic
  •  Prudent
  •  Un-contentious
  •  Respectable
  •  Free from the love of money
  •  Hospitable
  •  Manages own household well
  •  Not a new convert

 

ELDERS’ RESPONSIBILITY

The Scriptures show the Elders “serve by leading” and their responsibility involves the spiritual oversight of the congregation. All Elders are equal in authority but not necessarily equal in influence.

THE ELDERS’ PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES

Ensuring the doctrine of the church is biblical; all doctrinal issues in the church will be settled by the Board of Elders.

Ensuring the direction of the church is consistent with the Harvest Bible Chapel statement of purpose and the four pillars.

Administering in love and humility the process of church discipline as outlined in Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-4; Titus 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; 1 Timothy 5:17-25; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 and Romans 16:17.

PLURALITY OF ELDERS

Scripture teaches a plurality of elders governed individual New Testament churches (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5; Philippians 1:1). Scripture does not mention any congregations featuring a stand-alone pastor and leader. A plurality of godly elders, exercising their individual giftedness, squares with the Scripture’s teaching that wisdom is found in a multitude of godly counsellors (Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 19:20; Proverbs 24:6.). This truth does not eliminate the possibility and likelihood that one or more elders will stand out from the others as more public in their ministries or more influential in their workings on the Elder Board.

SENIOR PASTOR

The Harvest Oakville Senior Pastor automatically serves as an Elder and, because of his public presence and responsibility before the congregation, may be considered “first among equals” as a member of the Elder Board. The Senior Pastor should be gifted primarily as a preacher/teacher and as a leader.

DEACONS

The Bible teaches that Deacons “lead by serving” (Acts 6). The qualifications for Elders and Deacons are the same regarding an individual‘s character, but they differ in aptitude. The elders are to be “able to teach” while the deacons are to be “able and proved as servants.” The Board of Deacons shall consist of a chairman who shall be a member of the Board of Elders.

DEACON QUALIFICATIONS (1 TIMOTHY 3:8-12)

  • Individual of dignity
  • Above reproach
  • Not double tongued
  • First tested as servants
  • Not addicted to wine
  • Spouse must be faithful
  • Dignified
  • Temperate
  • Not fond of sordid gain
  • Holding to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience
  • Husband of one wife
  • Manages household well