Identifying Leaders at Randolph Street
Eight years ago, in the midst of the replanting of Randolph Street, the membership unanimously agreed to update the structure of our church government. This change took us from a single elder model to a plurality of elders who would be responsible for overseeing and shepherding our church. Also, we shifted our deacons from managing the church to caring for the church believing this to be more in line with the example of the New Testament. In my opinion, there are few things more important to the health of a local church than having godly men shepherding and leading our local church as elders and deacons. Thankfully, God has blessed our faith family with many men who are capable and qualified to lead this local church. With the recent growth of our membership, we think it would be beneficial to consider adding a few new men to our elder & deacon groups. With this in mind, we would like to seek your input regarding men you believe might be willing and able to fulfill these offices. Below you will find a description of the duties and qualifications for elders & deacons. The last page is a questionnaire which we ask you to detach, fill out, and submit to one of the staff pastors if you have suggestions for our elders & deacons. Thank you for serving your faith family in this way.
To the Praise of His Glory!
DUTIES OF ELDERS & DEACONS
Duties of a Lay Elder: Along with our staff elders, lay elders at Randolph Street serve as overseers & shepherds of our local church.
- Overseers: Our staff elders are the primary administrators of our ministry, but our lay elders likewise serve to oversee & manage the ministry. Our elders are responsible for the direction, organization, and finances of our local church.
- Shepherds: The primary ministry of our lay elders is shepherding 2–3 Care Groups along with 2–3 deacons. Each elder is typically responsible for 20–30 family units. This is the heart of our ministry as elders as we seek to shepherd God’s people to live in a manner that brings much glory to Jesus Christ.
Duties of a Deacon: Deacons have one primary responsibility at Randolph Street as they oversee the care ministry under the leadership of our elders. Each deacon leads a Care Group consisting of up to 10–12 family units. He is responsible to ensure that each member of the care group is being cared for in a manner that expresses our Christian commitment to one another. At times, deacons may assume other responsibilities such as caring for facility or properties.
BIBLICAL QUALIFICATIONS OF ELDERS & DEACONS
An Introduction to the Biblical Qualifications for Elders & Deacons:
Below is a list of the biblical qualifications that an elder or deacon must possess. It must be remembered that no candidate for either office will be a perfect man. However, if he is clearly and persistently lacking in any of these qualities he cannot serve in the church as an elder or deacon. Each local Church must judge the prospective elder/deacon and determine if they currently meet these qualifications. The question that must be addressed is not whether there has been past failure in these areas, but do those in question have an established pattern of these traits in their lives. Past failure, either as an unbeliever or immature believer, should not prohibit one from serving in an office if these character marks (listed below) are now an identifiable and consistent pattern in their lives.
Biblical Qualifications for Elders:
The list of qualifications below is gathered from 3 main passages: 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, & 1 Peter 5.
- above reproach (lit. "blameless") 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7. This qualification sums up all the qualifications listed below. This means that there is nothing in the candidate’s life that would justify a legitimate accusation of misconduct or call his character into question.
- the husband of one wife (lit. "a one-woman man") 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6. One writer says, “Most commentators understand this phrase to mean ‘having the character of a one-woman man.’” This qualification is not saying marriage is a prerequisite to eldership. However, if a prospective elder is married this qualification demands that he is a husband fully devoted to loving and caring for his wife (Ephesians 5:25; 1 Peter 3:7). Married or unmarried, inherent within this qualification is the fact that the prospective elder must be living a sexually pure life. Below is a further word on this phrase, “husband of one wife.” The church has a responsibility to uphold the biblical ideal of marriage, especially as exemplified by its leadership. In cases where there has been a divorce in a person's past, the church has an obligation to restrict, for a period of time, the person's involvement in leadership until it can be proven that the present marriage exemplifies Christ's relationship to His church. I Timothy 3:2, 12 sets the marital qualification for leadership within the church. The phrase "the husband of one wife" does not mean that a person cannot have had a divorce in his past since none of the other qualifications listed refer to specific acts in the past (prior to salvation or subsequent to salvation) but rather to qualities which currently characterize a man's life. It is especially important, in cases where there has been a divorce in a man's past, that there be a period of careful observation to see that his present marriage is characterized by devotion and sacrificial love. (John MacArthur)
- temperate (moderate, not given to excess) 1 Timothy 3:2. In all areas of life, an elder must be calm, well-balanced, careful, and sane—one who at all times is capable of clear thinking and sound judgment.
- sober-minded (a sensible, serious person) 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8. This does not mean that an elder may not laugh or joke or play. It means he leads a disciplined life, not allowing frivolous activities to distract him from more serious and important concerns.
- of good behavior (respectable, orderly) 1 Timothy 3:2. The opposite of the Greek in this case is chaos (utter confusion). An elder's outward behavior must demonstrate decency, orderliness, and self-control.
- hospitable (lit. "one who loves strangers") 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8. An elder must be one who shows genuine kindness and hospitality; not only to the members of his church, but also to people he does not know well.
- a lover of what is good (lit. "one who is inclined to do good") Titus 1:8. Closely related to hospitality, an elder must be one who not only loves the concept of goodness, but also is prone to doing good to others.
- able to teach (lit. "skilled in teaching") 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9. The elder must be able to effectively handle and defend the Word of God. Formal education is not a requirement, but the elder must be a lover of God’s Word. It is important to remember that an every elder may not be called to publicly “preach” the Word. However, every elder must be able to handle the Word effectively to counsel and teach the Church (cf. 2 Timothy 2:2, 24; 2:15; Titus 2:7–8).
- not given to wine (lit. "not a drinker" or "not addicted to wine") 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7. This qualification is a serious warning that an elder cannot be preoccupied with alcohol or known as an abusive drinker. The Scriptures are clear that drunkenness and the lack of self-control is sin. The Scriptures do not prohibit partaking of alcohol but due to the cultural abuse of alcohol it is important that elders be careful in this area. (cf. Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8).
- not violent (lit. not "a giver of blows," or "a striker") 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7. An elder must be a man who solves problems and settles disputes peacefully, using persuasive words and calm demeanor, not his fists or other weapons.
- gentle (patient, gracious, forgiving) 1 Timothy 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:24. An elder must not be a man who holds a grudge or is slow to forgive. He must be one who will patiently bear with those who are needy, difficult, reluctant to change, or slow to learn.
- not quick-tempered (he must be slow to anger) Titus 1:7; James 1:19–20. Anger in itself is not always a sin. There is a righteous sort of anger. An elder, though, must be a man who recognizes and controls his own propensity to become angry.
- not quarrelsome (not argumentative) 1 Timothy 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:24–26; James 3:13–18. He must be a man who will defend the truth strongly, but in a peaceable manner. He must not be one who allows himself to become embroiled in hostile disputes or petty arguments.
- just (righteous or upright) Titus 1:8. He is a man who is known for doing what is right. He lives a life of practical righteousness, trying to reflect God's view in every decision he makes.
- holy (lit. "devout" or "set apart to God") Titus 1:8. An elder must be firmly committed to God and His Word. He must be faithful to the ministry and to biblical doctrine, not one who gives in to social, political, or religious pressure to compromise.
- self-controlled (or self-disciplined) Titus 1:8. He must be a man who is disciplined in terms of his response to physical desires for food, pleasure, comfort, money, sleep, sex, or anything else which could cause him to stumble.
- not covetous (not a lover of money) 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:2. An elder cannot be motivated in the ministry by financial gain or greedy in his lifestyle. He is a man who will trust the Lord, be content with what is provided, and be thankful.
- one who rules his own house well (a good manager and leader) 1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 1:6. An elder must have proven himself a good manager of his children (if he has children) and his household in general.
- having his children in submission with all reverence (having obedient, respectful, faithful children) 1 Timothy 3:4–5; Titus 1:6. The children of an elder must not have a reputation for uncontrolled behavior or insubordination. Additionally, an elder must not be a harsh or brutal man, but must maintain order in his family through loving leadership, consistent biblical training, and proper discipline.
- not a novice (not a new or immature believer) 1 Timothy 3:6. An elder must be a mature believer, especially in relation to others in his particular church. If even a capable man is elevated to the position too rapidly, he will battle with pride.
- He must have a good testimony among those who are outside (well respected even by unbelievers in the community) 1 Timothy 3:7. An elder must have a consistently good testimony in all places and with all people (aside from those who would persecute him or accuse him falsely), even outside the church. He must be just, honest, peaceable, and loving in every context.
- He must serve, not by compulsion, but willingly . . . eagerly (he must desire to serve) 1 Peter 5:2; 1 Timothy 3:1. Elders must not be pressured into service if it is not their personal desire to serve in this capacity. An elder's desire to serve must be God-given and his motives pure.
- not self-willed (not anxious to control others or to have his own way) Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:3. An elder must not be a man who is anxious to dominate or control others. He must be a team-player, realizing that while he is a shepherd, he is also one of the sheep.
- an example to the flock: 1 Peter 5:3; Titus 2:7. An elder will not be perfect, but he must be a man who will lead the church, by instruction and example, according to God's Word.
Biblical Qualifications for deacons:
- dignified (men worthy of respect) - A deacon must be a man who is known and respected by the congregation. (Acts 6:3)
- not double-tongued - A deacon must be a man whose speech is full of integrity, sincerity and truthfulness. This prohibits manipulative, hypocritical, or deceitful speech.
- not addicted to much wine (see elder qualifications)
- not greedy for dishonest gain (see elder qualifications)
- holding the mystery of faith with a clear conscience - A deacon must be a man who knows the Word and his life reflects the truth he loves. The NLT reads, “They must be committed to the revealed truths of the Christian faith and must live with a clear conscience.”
- blameless (see elder qualifications)
- wives of deacons - A deacon’s wife must be a woman who is dignified, not a slanderer but sober-minded and faithful in all things.
- husband of one wife (see elder qualifications)
- good managers of children and household (see elder qualifications)