- It is God’s church, the Head of which is Jesus Christ. Jesus said HE will build His church. (Matthew 16:13-20; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18)
- The church does not have to have a building or bank accounts (or a “corporate board”) to function. (Acts 2:42-47)
- Jesus said leaders in His church must be servants (Matthew 20:25-28, 23:11; Mark 9:35, 10:44; John 13:14)
- Christ has provided spiritual gifts for church leadership, to keep the church unified, protected and maturing (Eph. 4:1-16). They equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church. These gifts are:
- Apostles — missionaries who start new churches in various places that need it.
- Prophets — those who warn (in alignment with Scripture) about the way things should be or of things to come.
- Evangelists — those who welcome people to Christ, “gospelers.”
- Pastors/Teachers — those who nurture and protect the body against false teachings, restore the failing, and lead the body to maturity (attitudes, words and works of Jesus).
- Notice that all of the above gifts (#4) have to do with ministry of the Word and prayer; and these must give an account to God for those under their ministry (Hebrews 13:17). So, they should be heeded, if what they say is pure and genuine teaching from the Bible. The Bible is the authority, not the men.
- Future church leaders are ALWAYS recognized and blessed by and commissioned by older and gifted church leaders, the whole body recognizing that they are gifted and full of the Spirit (Acts 6; Acts 13; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). This group of older and gifted church leadership may not be all from one church, but they can send gifted, new workers out with fasting, prayer and laying on hands. This event is often called the “laying on of hands by the presbytery” (Acts 6, 13; 1 Tim. 4:14).
- Deacons, (just as Elders) were established by certain qualifications but for certain different duties (Acts 6). They have those qualifications repeated in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Deacons take care of all practical things that the spiritual gifts in #4 do not perform. The deacons help the gifted leaders. Fellow elders provide accountability for the pastor(s). The deacons do not command or supervise them or determine the “employment” of a pastor(s). In turn, the gifted leaders serve in all humility but also work to correctly teach the Word, not being ashamed (2 Tim. 2:15) if it goes against the grain of people’s thoughts and desires (2 Tim. 4:2-3). But, they do this with patience and teaching, not with harshness. Women may be deaconesses, prophetesses, missionaries, teachers and evangelists, & they may be the leading pastor of the whole church.
- The official roles of Elder/Pastor (a.k.a. “overseer”) and Deacon account for (include) ALL of the gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12-14, [#4 and #7]. If someone is a an elder or deacon, then their spiritual gift will be described in Ephesians 4. Again, women may be elders/pastors of the local church, & they may have a leadership gift that God means to use for influence within the body and/or in the world. Examples include Stephen (deacon) and Phillip the Evangelist (Acts 6-8), Aquilla and Priscilla (Acts 18), Phoebe (Romans 16), Daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9).
- The elders/pastors (a.k.a. “overseers,” gifted leaders) are always more than one in every church locale or mission (Acts 20; 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1:15), or are being established as such. This plurality provides accountability, so that no one man takes preeminence.
- Just because someone has a gift does not mean he/she is using it or that God is using them. (2 timothy 1:6, 2:21)
- 1 Corinthians 12-13 teaches that all believers can and should desire more than one gift, but that, not all can be the same. Above all, godly love is the best way in every gift.
- There are those who present themselves as leaders, but they do not follow God’s design or attitude for leaders, nor His Word. They are not true leaders. These are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Those who are false leaders/teachers cause divisions and followings, are covetous or greedy and/or love the place of leadership by putting others down/under (“Lording it over the flock”). These sort of people receive strong condemnation from God, even sickness or death. (Matthew 7:15; Acts 5:1-11; 8:20-23; 1 Corinthians 3:17, 11:29; 1 Tim. 1:19-20, 4-5:1; 2 Tim. 2:19-24, 3:8-9, 4:14; Romans 16:17-18; 3 John 1:9-10; James 4-5, 1 Peter 5).