by Byron Peters, Lead Pastor
God is at work in Christ Community Church! A land purchase may be on the horizon. We’re planning to open our doors wide to the community for five weeks after Easter, tackling tough questions our neighbors wrestle with. Our elders are shuffling their member “flocks” geographically so they can more easily interact with those under their care. A team heads to Italy to explore another mission opportunity. Our high-schoolers are learning Biblical counseling, and a “communicants class” for middle-schoolers pursuing membership is underway.
Who oversees all this, and how are those leaders chosen?
The Bible answers that question with characteristic wisdom. God chooses the leaders of his church. He gifts, equips, and calls (Ephesians 4; 1 Corinthians 12; 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1). And simultaneously he works by his Spirit to help the congregation recognize those gifts in those men that they might be elected to serve (Acts 1; Acts 6).
For the next couple weeks you have the opportunity to pray and then nominate men for the office of either elder or deacon. This is important work, because without healthy leadership, it’s very difficult to have a healthy church.
Elders are charged with maintaining the spiritual government of the church under the authority of God’s Word. This involves knowing personally the members of the church and their families and keeping up with how they are doing spiritually, receiving and releasing members, ordaining other elders and deacons, calling congregational meetings, overseeing Christian education and other initiatives, and exercising direction over the worship of the church.
In other words, the session (i.e., the elders viewed as a team together) of the church is tremendously important. Elders guard and guide the church. They are to be examples to the other members. They are to be wise and grave, men of godly character, able to teach, hospitable and humble servants of Christ. And when they gather to officially do the business of the church, they are “in session,” and act on behalf of Christ in his governance of his church.
Deacons are also officers in the church. They play a different role. Whereas elders give more attention to “words,” deacons give more attention to “deeds.” They render service (‘deacon’ means ‘servant’) in the areas of facilities, finances, helps, and mercy. Many of our ministry teams are extensions of the work of the deacons.
Scripture guides us in all of this. 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 (see also 1 Peter 5:1-4) give us principles to guide our selection of men for these offices.
Our Church Bylaws call for an annual election of officers in May. In order to elect officers, the congregation must nominate them. After they are nominated, these men are then trained and examined in accordance with directives set down in our Book of Church Order. Once the session is convinced that we have a slate of qualified candidates, elections may proceed.
Church government things like this never interested me much. I didn’t know the difference between an elder or a welder, nor did I care. But now I realize how foolish I was. The officers of a church set the direction, vision, mission, and even the “tone” of the church. They can richly bless a church, or they can tear it apart. They are directly accountable to God for their service, and will one day stand before him to render an account for their work and receive rewards for it (1 Peter 5:1-4). And you, the congregation, will be accountable to God for your choice of those officers.
As we move into an exciting new chapter in the life of CCC, let’s trust God to give us healthy leadership that we might grow as a healthy church. You can find the nomination form here .