As our Annual Congregational Members’ Meeting at Gilnahirk is fast approaching, some guidance on the biblical teaching on the subject of elders and deacons may help you to prayerfully think through potential candidates that you as a member would like to nominate.
The essential criteria for potential elders is clearly listed in key passages such as Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7. In summary, an elder is a man who is
- responsible for spiritual oversight within the church (1 Tim 3:1; Titus 1:9, see also Acts 6:4)
- above reproach, that is he has an upstanding reputation in all realms of life – his family, his church and his workplace (1 Tim 3:2, 7; Titus 1:6, 7)
- leads his household well if he is a husband and/or a father (1 Tim 3:4; Titus 1:6)
- a model of self-control (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:7-8)
- not a new believer (1 Tim 3:6)
- able to display a deep and functional commitment to sound doctrine, basing his life and ministry on the gospel of Christ (Titus 1:9)
Whilst elders are men who are charged with the spiritual oversight and nurture of the church, deacons are gifted servant-leaders, ministering in practical and diverse ways within the body of the church. This includes looking after the needs of the poor and vulnerable (Acts 6:1, 3) but also encompasses practical matters such as facilities maintenance or finances.
There are clear criteria for potential deacons laid out by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, but other texts inform our position on the diaconate, including Acts 6:1-7, Romans 16:1-2, and Philippians 1:1.
The essential criteria for potential deacons then are people who
- are full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6:3)
- show clear evidence of godliness and character (Acts 6:3, 1 Tim 3:8)
- demonstrate proven ability to serve in informal settings first (1 Tim 3:10)
- are faithful in marriage (1 Tim 3:12)
- leads well at home (1 Tim 3:12)
Whilst 1 Timothy 3:8-13 appears to refer to male-only deacons, we see Paul write of a female deacon, Phoebe, in Romans 16:1-2. She is a servant (or deaconness) of the church at Cenchreae and an obvious leader within the early church, addressed as she is alongside fellow prominent leaders Prisca and Aquila.
It is our position at Gilnahirk Baptist that the diaconate is open to both men and women who fit the above biblical characteristics.
What happens now?
After reviewing these scriptures and prayerfully asking for guidance, as a member of GBC you are able to submit nominations for the roles of elder and deacon to the current eldership for consideration.
At this stage you should keep your nominations confidential, making nominations to the eldership only. The elders will then consider any nominations that come forward and shall make recommendations to the congregation at an ACM in due course.
It is important to remember that further training, preparation and testing may be required before a candidate is ready to be brought before the congregation for final selection. This is so that the church is well equipped with the best God-given leaders and servants to see the body of the church flourish under their ministry.
Please submit any nominations to the office of elder or deacon in writing to any of our elders, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.