Summary: Although many church events and ministries are organized informally, God has appointed two kinds of official, recognized leadership for the local church: shepherds and servants, also known as Elders and Deacons (including deaconesses).
Elders, Deacons, and Deaconesses
1. Every church is different in some way when it comes to dividing up responsibilities.
2. The little church in the suburbs suddenly stopped buying from its regular office supply dealer. So, the dealer telephoned Deacon Brown to ask why. "I'll tell you why," shouted Deacon Brown. "Our church ordered some pencils from you to be used in the pews for visitors to register." "Well, interrupted the dealer, "didn't you receive them yet?" "Oh, we received them all right," replied Deacon Brown. "However, you sent us some golf pencils...each stamped with the words, `Play Golf Next Sunday.'" [source: http://www.jokebuddha.com]
3. To the unchurched, words like deacon or elder are mysterious term. The mystique is even worse with a non-denominational church like ours. Many people cannot accept the idea of a local church with its lay officers and members choosing its pastor. They think that some sort of mysterious “them” appointed me.
4. Although I am not anti-denominational, I do enjoy the freedom that comes from a simple, Biblical structure. God’s structure for the individual church is an ancient one: shepherds and servants. Philippians 1:1, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons…”
Main Idea: Although many church events and ministries are organized informally, God has appointed two kinds of official, recognized leadership for the local church: shepherds and servants, also known as Elders and Deacons (including deaconesses).
I. The ELDERS Are Shepherds or OVERSEERS (1-7)
A. All kinds of people shepherd, but official SHEPHERDS have authority
B. “Elders" may have originally implied ELDERLY men, but that idea faded before New Testament times
1. This drives the word consistency police crazy.
2. Word origins do not define words; e.g., Thor’s Day for Thursday
3. Timothy was perhaps 35 years old, yet he was above and appointing elders
• During the mishnaic period the name zaken ("elder") was reserved for scholars, and particularly members of the Sanhedrin... The title was regarded as equivalent to a sage, and was unconnected with age…Kid. 32b.[source•: http:// www.jewishvirtual library. org]
4. Generally speaking, age helps men become wiser and more knowledge of Scripture, yet a young godly man who knows and lives the Word is better suited than a seasoned man who know little of the Word…
Psalm 119:99-100, “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.”
Elders need wisdom: they pray for your needs, deal with conflicts, handle problems, manage church finances, determining what ministries take place here, seek God’s direction for our church, try to keep everyone working together to God’s honor.
C. The man we call “pastor” is a SPECIALIZED elder (I Timothy 5:17-18)
D. Elders shepherd and oversee (MANAGE) a church