Chad Van Someren
The New Testament describes the leadership of the early church with people who served as elders and deacons. Passages like Acts 6, 15, and 20, 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, James 5 shape our understanding of the qualifications and duties of these offices.
The calling of the elders, with the minister, is to oversee the doctrine and life of the members of the congregation and fellow officebearers, provide counsel and discipline along with pastoral care in the congregation, participate in and promote evangelism, and defend the faith. As shepherds of the church, they shall encourage and support the members in their Christian life. The elders also shall nurture in the congregation grateful and obedient participation in the Lord’s Supper through encouragement, instruction, and accountability.
The calling of the deacons is to represent and administer the mercy of Christ to all people, especially to those who belong to the community of believers. Deacons shall lead the members in ways that inspire faithful stewardship in their time, talents, and resources and so give life in this world the shape of God’s kingdom. Thus deacons shall create and encourage participation in structures and ministries of mercy, justice, and reconciliation, both locally and globally. All of this shall be done with words of biblical encouragement and testimony, which assure the unity of word and deed.