Leadership is a fundamental need for a local church. The Lord Jesus Christ is the leader of his church everywhere in the entire world, and there is no replacement for his leadership. A healthy church understands that Christ is the head of the church and holds to a biblical view of church leadership.
The Bible describes a structure of leadership that is necessary for a local congregation. There are two leadership offices described in the Bible: Elders and deacons. For instance, when Paul writes to the church in Philippi, he includes in his greeting “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons” (Phil. 1:1). The term “overseer” is another term to describe an elder (see Titus 1:5-7). Both elders and deacons are essential for a church to grow and flourish.
The Bible is translated into a local language to communicate the original text effectively to local people. At Catalyst Church, we decided to call the elders of our church “pastor” because the term “pastor” effectively communicates the biblical leadership position of an elder within our American culture. Therefore, our pastors serve our church in fulfilling the role of elders within our church body.
Our church’s next step for leadership is to prayerfully consider and nominate individuals within our church to fulfill the biblical role of deacons. Our deacons will support our church by being part of our Catalyst board. This decision will help us achieve a three-part structure within our church. The goal is for our church to be led by pastors, supported by our board, and driven by members.
The Bible describes the role of a deacon in several places. Deacons serve the household of God with humility and self-sacrifice. The first deacons in the Bible may be in Acts 6, where the church selects “seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3) to assist the church in the daily distribution to the widows. The men in Acts 6 are not expressly called deacons. However, they appear to fulfill the role of what Paul later describes as deacons in 1 Timothy.
The main text to define a deacon is 1 Timothy 3:8-13:
Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. They must also be tested first; if they prove blameless, then they can serve as deacons. Wives, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything. Deacons are to be husbands of one wife, managing their children and their own households competently. For those who have served well as deacons acquire a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 3:8–13
Deacons should be worthy of respect, having a consistent Christian character without hypocrisy. They should show self-restraint and have a passion for Christ. Their Christian witness should be apparent in their daily life, having a love for others, especially for God’s church.
Including wives in this text and highlighting their qualifications suggests that deacons can be male or female. Paul further confirms deaconesses in Romans 16:1, where he greets a woman named Phoebe, “who is a servant of the church in Cenchreae.” The term “servant” is the Greek word diakonos, from where we get the English word “deaconess.”
According to 1 Timothy 3, elders and deacons have similar qualifications except for one. Deacons are not required to be “able to teach” (a qualification of an elder in 1 Tim. 3:2, but not included in the qualifications for a deacon in 1 Tim. 3:8–13). For Catalyst Church, this does not mean that someone on our board would never lead a Bible study, Sunday school class, or small group. It would only mean that they would not preach on a Sunday morning. Preaching to the church is the responsibility of our pastors.
Catalyst Church, the next step is to nominate a few people to serve on our Catalyst board. These individuals should have the qualifications of a deacon. To recap, these qualifications are:
- Someone who shows a consistent Christian character
- Someone who shows self-restraint and has a passion for Christ
- Someone who shows love for others and the church
- Someone who has a history of being a Christian witness at the church
- Someone who shows competence in their work and can manage things well
- Someone with a heart to serve God’s church
At Catalyst Church, we ask that our board members not be paid staff members. Our board members should be volunteers willing to commit to at least one year on our board. Our board members will provide support to our elders and have oversight over service ministries within our church. In 2023, we hope to have at least three qualified board members serving on our board.
We will begin to take nominations for board members immediately. Please submit names of individuals you believe are qualified to be board members to Pastor Jason or Pastor Johannes by email, text, or in person. The pastors will consider those nominated by our congregation and begin the process of having conversations with individuals to serve on our Catalyst board in 2023.