One of the problems in Christendom is that ministers have been given so many different titles of rank — bishops, presbyters, pastors, superintendents, elders, priests, etc. Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible is not concerned about rank; the Bible is concerned about role. God's word gives us the Leadership gifts for the Church, the "fivefold" ministry (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher). These leadership gifts are given the role of "equipping saints for the work of the ministry". The following document is designed to help clarify how Higher Vision Church applies the role of elder and deacon in the local church.
At Higher Vision Church, we believe in an Aposlolic Model of Leadership. Please refer to the last page of this document for a more clear explanation of the Apostolic Church Model. The five-fold gifts in Ephesians are a vital and needed to grow the local church. At Higher Vision God, has given many people who are flowing in the those gifts.The Senior Pastor and Board Of Apostolic Leaders (Board of Directors) function as the Senior Leadership and Head Elders of HVC. The church pastoral team and staff also fulfill the role of elder serving to support the Apostolic leadership.
Who is an elder?
The Greek term for "elder" is presbuteroi and simply means "older, elder, or mature." The early Jewish Christians were familiar with this term in connection to religious oversight. Elders stood alongside Moses (Numbers 11:16). Elders accompanied Joshua in conquest (Joshua 7:6). The Sanhedrin contained elders (Matthew 26:3), and the local synagogues were ruled by elders. Therefore, when the Jewish apostles wrote to the local churches, they naturally addressed those who had established positions and responsibilties for the pastoral care of the believers as elders. Paul declared . . .
I Peter 5:1-2 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder . . . feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof. . .
Notice! Peter was an elder, writing to elders. Yet, He was also an apostle who gave oversight and direction to the churches. He was both an elder and an apostle. "Elder" describes "the man." "Apostle" describes "the role." The Apostolic Pastor, pastoral team, staff, and overseeing ministry leadership are considered "elders" at Higher Vision Church. Those you are mature and given the role of "overseeing" ministries and groups of people would fall in the category of eldership. (Pastors, Staff, Ministry Leaders) Elders are spiritual overseers of the "flock).
The Apostle Paul continually uplifted those who accompanied him in ministry and helped with overseeing ministry to the church, by calling them: fellow-laborers (Philippians 4:3), fellow-helpers (2 Corinthians 8:23), fellow-servants (Colossians 1:7) fellow-soldiers (Philippians 2:25), and fellow-workers (Colossians 4:11). Within these simple terms, Pauls describes the role of an elder. He is a laborer, helper, servant, soldier, and worker.
How should an elder be selected?
In the Jewish synagogue and in the early Christian church the selection of elders was performed by the Apostolic leader of that/those works and/or utilitzing their eldership/leadership team. Paul instructed Titus to appoint and ordain elders as Titus himself had been appointed by Paul.
Titus 1:5 For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.
At Higher Vision Church, major areas of leadership/eldership (Womens/Mens Ministry, etc...) are appointed through prayer by the Apostolic leader or in conjuction with the Pastoral Staff who has been delegated that responsibility.
Titus 1:5-7 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city. . . for a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God...
What are the qualifications for an elder?
Paul gives a list to Timothy in . . .
I Timothy 3:1-7 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?). Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Notice the term "bishop." The term "bishop" is the Greek word episkopoi and is used synonymously with the term "elder." Paul gives an example in . . .
The office of deacon is not an honorary post but a place of real service. Generally, many believe that the office of deacon was instituted shortly after the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. At Higher Vision Church we are blessed to have many who serve the work of the Lord and help care for the HV family.
Who is a Deacon?
Acts 6:2 - It is not right that we should have to give up or neglect (preaching) the Word of God in order to attend to serving at tables and superintending the distribution of food.
In the New Testament, deacons first appear in the church at Jerusalem. Apparently, the duties of the Apostles had become too extensive, prompting them to suggest that seven individuals should be chosen to relieve them of some of their responsibilities. These men were called deacons and became servants and superintendents.
(1) Servants: The Greek term for deacon is diakonos and simply means "one who executes the commands of another." The office of the deacon was implemented for "menial task" ministry—serving at tables. Serving as a deacon is not a "spotlight" ministry. It is washing feet, turning on the heat, dumping out the garbage, and many other tasks that no one else desires. It is carrying a towel of service, even as Jesus did for His disciples.
(2) Superintendents: Apparently, the Hebrew widows were being neglected during the daily distribution of food. The Apostles found themselves neglecting the ministry of the Word and prayer, and they commissioned the deacons for help. In essence, the deacons became administrators or superintendents, overseeing the temporal affairs of the church.
Although there tends to be some overlap between the office of elder and deacon, the primary role of the deacon consists of: (1) Waiting on tables; (2) Superintending for the elders. The eldership tends to be focused mored to five-fold ministry(teaching, equipping) and overseeing those who do so, whereas deaconship lends itself more towards practical helps and service.
(1) Waiting on tables: This is symbolic of those tasks which seem like small tasks, but are very large tasks. These tasks are "behind" the scene but really "make" the scene.
(2) Superintending for the Elders: The office of deacon was created to help the office of elder. To the elder, the deacon is a "hero" because he allows the elder to give himself to the ministry of the Word and prayer.
How should a deacon be selected?
Deacons are nominated/suggested by the leadership team or Eldership. Luke writes specifically in ...
Acts 6: 2-3 - Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples (believers) unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over the business.
At Higher Vision Church deacons(those who serve) are suggested by the Elder(Leader) of that ministry and then confirmed with an Overseeing Elder/Leader.
What are the qualifications for a deacon?
The Apostle Paul gave a list in . . .
I Timothy 3: 8-13 - Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongue, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanders, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacon be the husband of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon will purchase to themselves a good decree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
(a.) One that ruleth his own house well!
Whatever relationship that one has with his family will be the relationship that he has with the church family.
(b.) One that ruleth his children well!
Deacons will serve the sons and daughters of God in the way they serve (relate) to their own children.
(c.) Husband of one wife!
Although some use Scripture to debate against any type of remarriage, this biblical interpretation cannot be proven. The Jewish culture still practiced polygamy, and Paul was literally declaring that one cannot have concubines or many wives and serve as a deacon.
*Deacons Wife: Grave (worthy of respect); Not slanders (finding fault and spreading criticism); Sober (sound minded); Faithful in all things (completing the task).
(a.) Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscious!
Literally, hold fast to right relationship with God. Have a pure heart and clean hands.
(b.) First be proved!
These qualifications and characteristics can only be verified over a period of time.
Living above reproach! Being correctable to the Holy Sprit and those who are in authority.
Having a seriousness of purpose and functioning in a right role of leadership.
(b.) Not double-tongued!
One must not speak contradicting reports. This also includes slander and gossip.
(c.) Not given to much wine!
Although wine with a much lower alcoholic content was used on a regular basis in the Jewish culture, Scripture speaks with absolute clarity concerning the negative use of wine (Proverbs 20:1; Eph. 5:18).
(d.) Not greedy of filthy lucre (money)!
This is not a matter of whether you have money or not, but whether you love it or not. Not loving money!
(a.) Use the office well!
The office is not used for personal prominence or prestige but to serve as a servant.
(b.) Purchasing a good decree!
Serving as a deacon will give good ground to stand on in the eyes of God and the community. It will be a fulfilling place of service.
(c.) Great boldness of the faith!
Although boldness can be directed towards God, it is most often used as an expression towards men. God's desire for the Deacon? Great boldness!