Category Archives: Leadership

Biblical Guidelines for the Deacon Ministry at Kitwe Church


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I Timothy 3:8-13

The church is a living organism. The church is the body of Christ in whom the Spirit of the living God dwells! In the life of every organism there are growing pains, we welcome them because the goal of every living organism is growth.

The character and effectiveness of any church is directly related to the quality of its leadership. People do not usually rise above their leaders! It has been said that ‘everything rises and falls on leadership.’  Failure to adhere to biblical standards for appointing those to serve the church has caused many of the problems in the church today.

In 1 Timothy Paul is writing to Timothy the young pastor at the church of Ephesus. Problems had arisen in this church because men who were unqualified had found their way into church leadership (1:3, 4:1-3). Some were women (2:12) others were guilty of sin and needed public rebuke (5:20). (Acts 20:29-30).

Paul is giving instructions for the local Church at Ephesus, instructions that apply to our church, Kitwe Church.

In the New Testament there are only two offices in the Church the office of Elder (v.1-7); and the office of Deacon (v.8-13)

The Office of Elder there are three terms used interchangeably for the same office:

  • Bishop – gr. Episkopos = Overseer, responsible for the spiritual well-being of the church (Phil 1:1, Titus 1:7)
  • Elder – gr. Presbuteros = Authority, to teach and rule (I Tim 5:17, Titus 1:5,7)
  • Pastor – gr. Poimen = Shepherd, to lead, guide, provide (I Pt 5:2, Acts 20:28)

The Office of Deacon – Deacon (gr. Diakonos) means minister, emphasizes the attitude of a servant. (12) A deacon is a servant – He is not in a position of authority, decision maker, preacher or teacher.

The Biblical qualification for deacons is found following that of the pastor. This shows the organizational structure of the New Testament church to be pastoral leadership through the support of faithful deacons.

For this reason deacons, as well as pastors, must meet certain qualifications before they can be allowed to serve in a position. In Acts 6 the qualifications were given in general to be “of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.”  In I Timothy 3 the qualifications are given in a specific way: “Deacons likewise must be:”

THE NEED FOR DEACONS

Our church is growing and there are genuine needs in the congregation that need to be met. The elders need help so that they can fulfill their primary role to lead in the spiritual life of the Church and to teach the Word of God.  To carry out this the pastors need time to prepare, time to meet with people to share the gospel, disciple, counsel, preach and teach. (Acts 6:1,4)

QUALIFICATIONS OF DEACONS

  1. He is dignified (8): – The term means: “serious, devout, honorable, and dignified; one who acts in a mature and tactful fashion.” This term normally refers to something that is honorable, respectable, esteemed, or worthy, and is closely related to “respectable,” which is given as a qualification for elders (1 Tim. 3:2).
  2. He is not Double Tongued (8): Those who are double-tongued say one thing to certain people but then say something else to others, or say one thing but mean another. They are two-faced and insincere. Their words cannot be trusted, so they lack credibility. (Prov. 8:7,12:22; Jas.5:12)
  3. He is not addicted to much wine (8): – This means that he is not to come under the influence. A man is disqualified for the office of deacon if he is addicted to wine or other strong drink. Such a person lacks the self-control and discipline to serve a deacon. Not given to excesses, a state of mind which is free from the excessive indulgence of passion, lust, or emotion. He is able to keep his head in all situations. Doesn’t loose his temper, and control of his tongue. William Hendriksen comments, “Such a person lives deeply. His pleasures are not primarily those of the senses, like the pleasures of a drunkard for instance, but those of the soul. He is filled with spiritual and moral earnestness. He is not given to excess, but is moderate, well-balanced, calm, careful, steady, and sane. This pertains to his physical, moral, and mental tastes and habits.”  At Kitwe Church we ask those serving as deacons to voluntarily abstain from beverage alcohol.
  4. He is not Greedy For Money (8): – There is to be no dishonesty in the getting of gain. This applies to unethical business practices, tax evasion, gambling, bribes, extortion, and covetousness. The servant’s attitude is to be “How can I meet the needs of others?” rather than “How can I get others to meet mine?” If a person is a lover of money, he is not qualified to be a deacon, especially since deacons often handle financial matters for the church. (1 Ti. 6:10; Ro.13:9)
  5. He is a man sound in faith and life (9): Paul also indicates that a deacon must “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” The phrase “the mystery of the faith” is simply one way Paul speaks of the gospel (cf. 1 Tim. 3:16). Consequently, this statement refers to the need for deacons to hold firm to the true gospel without wavering.
    Yet this qualification does not merely involve one’s beliefs, for he must also hold these beliefs “with a clear conscience.” That is, the behavior of a deacon must be consistent with his beliefs. This would imply that he has first the absolute assurance of his own salvation, and that he is not ashamed to let others know that he is a Christian and seeks to win others to Christ.
  6. He must be blameless (v. 10): “Blameless” is a general term referring to a person’s overall character. There is nothing to accuse him of. If a malicious charge were to be made, to know his character would make the charge absolutely unbelievable. He is an example for the congregation to follow. (Phil. 3:17)
    Although Paul does not specify what type of testing is to take place, at a minimum, the candidate’s personal background, reputation, and theological positions should be examined. Moreover, the congregation should not only examine a potential deacon’s moral, spiritual, and doctrinal maturity, but should also consider the person’s track record of service in the church.
  7. He is the husband of one wife (v. 12): The literal meaning here is “a one-woman man.” There must be no other woman in his life to whom he relates in an intimate way either emotionally or physically. This would prohibit someone from serving as a deacon who was a polygamist or divorced.  It is also clear that the office of Deacon is reserved for men.
  8. He manages children and household well (12): A deacon must be the spiritual leader of his wife and children. Children are not perfect, but they are disciplined and respectful, according to the admonition of Ephesians 6:1,2; and his wife is submissive according to Ephesians 5:22-24.
  9. His wife is a godly woman (11) She must be “faithful in all things” (cf. 1 Tim. 5:10).
  10. Reverent – dignified or respectable.

    Not Slanderers – If you care for others you control the tongue, this means the deacon’s wife does not engage in destructive criticism of others or go around spreading gossip. Such action is so contrary to the ministry of caring for others that a man is disqualified from being a deacon if his wife has this attitude.

    Temperate – The term temperate means “not intoxicated, circumspect, and discreet.” She must be able to make good judgments and must not be involved in things that might hinder such judgment.

    Faithful – This is a general requirement which functions similarly to the requirement for elders to be “above reproach” (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6) and for deacons to be “blameless” (1 Tim. 3:10). The wife of a deacon has a very important ministry. She must be loyal and dependable.

THE DUTIES OF DEACONS

Let’s be very clear, the biblical role of Deacon is not the role of spiritual teacher in the church.  There is no qualification listed that requires a deacon to be gifted in teaching the Word of God.

The office of Deacon is that of a servant. The tasks of the deacons is anything NOT related to the teaching and shepherding of the church. Deacons are charged with the physical & temporal concerns of the church, and the duties will vary from one congregation to another depending upon the needs.  Some possible examples of duties that may be attended to by a Deacon:

  • Facilities
  • Benevolence – visit the sick, dispense aid
  • Finances
  • Ushers
  • Logistics
  • Any other task that serves the church and frees the hands of the elders to focus on preaching, teaching, preparing, and praying.

CONCLUSION:

The Scriptural qualifications in this text conclude with a promised benefit:

“They that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

The meaning of good degree is “a stair or step up.” Most people would consider the position of servant to be a step down, but the priorities of God’s kingdom is different!  Jesus taught His disciples that those who are great in God’s estimation are those who serve.  He taught them that the way up is to go down, and that the last shall be first.  The office of deacon demonstrates the priorities of God’s kingdom!

A man will increase in faith by having served as a deacon. As God performs His work through the deacon, his confidence will increase in God’s ability to work through him.

Lest we think that God only requires these character qualities of Deacons, remember, God does not have a double standard he requires all disciples to live blameless lives.

Role of Church Leadership – A Ministry of Service in the Church (Part 2)


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As we approach the book of Acts we do well to remember that this is a narrative of what happened in the early days of the church.  As a record of history, the Book of Acts it contains doctrine, but it is not a book of doctrine.  I heard a preacher say recently, “Narrative is not normative,” and we do well to keep that in mind.

Today we are in Acts 6:1-7 taking a look at what took in the first church at Jerusalem.  There are lessons to be learned on the role of church leadership, lessons that apply to Kitwe Church.

The church is not an organization, it is a living organism!  An organization is a group of people who work together in an organized way for a shared purpose.  The church is not an organization!  The church is a living organism and as a living organism it is organized.

The church is a living body of which Christ is the head and every believer a member of His body.  The Holy Spirit of God indwells individual believers with the life of Christ.

Biblical church organization then is never an end in itself only the means to facilitate what the Lord is doing in His church. So let’s look at how the local church is organized.

God has appointed two offices in the church; the Office of Elder (also referred to as Overseer and Pastor/Shepherd) and the Office of Deacon.

The word deacon comes from the Greek word Diakonos and simply means servant.  It literally speaks of one who “waits on tables” as a server.  The word deacon is emphasizing the attitude of a servant.  Though the word deacon is not used in this text, it seems to be the first appointment of the office that would eventually be referred to as the Office of a Deacon.

THE PROBLEM IN THE CHURCH (1)

Why was the church was growing?
Because of preaching – day of Pentecost, preaching the gospel of Jesus resulted in 3000 salvation decisions, message at the Temple resulted in 5000 more people believing in Jesus (4:4).

Because the Holy Spirit gave power to those proclaiming the gospel, and brought conviction of sin to those who heard the message,

Because those who heard, responded in faith and received forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ

The church faced problems

Problem from the outside – persecution (ch. 4). This threatened the furtherance of the gospel when the rulers commanded them to be quiet and stop speaking in the name of Jesus! The response of the Apostles was to pray for boldness to continue to preach Christ.

Problem from the inside – sinning members (5:1-11). This problem threatened the credibility of the gospel of Jesus.  If Jesus doesn’t change lives then all the claims to the power of the gospel is in vain! The response was the disciplining of the offending members.

This bring us then to the third problem mentioned, a problem from the inside of the church – dissension among the members (6:1)

When you have people from 16 different countries and language groups come together as one in Christ, there are bound to be misunderstandings! (2:8-10)

The Hellenists were the Greek speaking Jews.  These Jews had migrated to other countries and had adapted to other cultures and adopted a language other than Hebrew.  They were seen as turning their back on the culture and traditions of the orthodox Jewish faith. The Hebrews were the Hebrew speaking Jews, and they looked with disdain at the Hellenists. This was a deep cultural animosity that threatened the unity of this new church!

Solomon once said that there is nothing new under the sun.  Don’t we see this same attitude in our day?  One people group look down on another people group because of differences in language, culture or traditions.  They feel superior to others, and of course all of this is based in pride.

The complaint that was brought to the church was legitimate!  The widows of the Hellenists were in fact being neglected. People were dissatisfied because genuine needs were not being met.

THE PROBLEM SOLVING STRATEGY OF THE CHURCH (2-4)

For a church to grow, there must be a plan – The plan is people

Why is planning needed in a growing church?

  • Because people and their needs are overlooked when there is no plan. There is much work to be carried out in a growing church, the widows needed to be cared for.
  • Because there are many legitimate needs among the membership of a growing church and it is not possibles for the pastors to meet all these needs. There are too many people with too many needs!
  • Because there is love that must be expressed.

The church must be organized to a level that ensures that ministry is being carried out in a meaningful way and that needs are being met.

Someone once said, “I don’t like organized religion.” Does that mean you prefer disorganized religion? We all have a part, we must all serve. If we are to function together and serve one another well there must be some plan in place.

What was the plan they enacted? (3)

  • They were to select competent people (deacons).
  • They were to be men (I Tim 3:1-2).
  • They were to be from among the congregation. These people were already “among” them. They were not to look for help from outside. Our commitment is to raise up leadership from within Kitwe Church. Both pastors and deacons.
  • They were to have a good reputation, testimony – outside the church and inside (I Tim 3.7-13)
  • They were to be spirit-filled men – exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5.22-23)
  • They were to be full of godly wisdom – they must have an understanding of God’s Word

For a church to grow there must be priorities (4)

Those chosen by God to serve the church must understand and fulfill their roles.

There are two full-time priorities of the pastors:

  • Ministry of the Word – preaching, teaching, studying (II Tim 4.2).
  • Prayer – bathe his messages in prayer, pray for his people.

These are the priority for the pastor because of the duties he is called to perform as a Shepherd.  John Stott suggests the following as the duties of a pastor:

  • He feeds the flock “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood*—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.” Acts 20:28
  • He guides the flock – sheep tend to stray. “You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.” Titus 2:15
  • He guards the flock – there are wolves out there. “Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.” 1 Tim. 4:1
  • He heals the flock – many are wounded.

It is the carrying out of this priority that equips believers to accomplish the work of ministry (Eph. 4.12)

Deacons are assigned to carry out the necessary logistics of the church.  

The role of the deacons is to “wait on tables.”  Paul was concerned for that needs of the poor and widows be met (Ro. 15.26, II Co. 8-9) but he never wanted to be distracted from the ministry of the Word by the logistics of the service needing to be carried out (I Co. 16.1-4).

THE PROCEDURE THE CHURCH USED TO APPOINT DEACONS (5-6)

The church made the choice (5)

The congregation from among themselves chose men with the qualifications.

Congregational rule – the church decides on all matters of appointment of leadership, and affirms the expenditures of funds or goods to be used in the ministry.

The church brought the men before the church leadership (6a)

They set them before – used in reference to setting before judges. They were examined to see if they indeed fulfilled the qualifications

The chosen were ordained as deacons (6b)

They committed these men to the task before God in prayer. They laid hands on them – symbolizing the acknowledgment and commissioning to the work which they had been called. Symbolizes approval.

Let’s wrap this up by applying what we have seen to our church right here in Kitwe!  Note two applications that

First the result of this action was that the word of God spread like a fire across the city of Jerusalem!  Is that not what we long to see happen right here in Kitwe? To see people who are lost, found to see hurting hearts healed by the power and grace of God; to see those living in darkness rescued and brought to the light!

Second the number of disciples in Jerusalem multiplied.  When God is at work, and the Word is being taught, and people are stepping up to serve the Lord, the church grows! The true church is something that is so different and beautiful that it is attractive!

So here is our plan between now and the end of the year at Kitwe Church:

  • Baptism service – for all who have been saved but not yet who biblically baptized.
  • Charter the church according to the laws of Zambia – we will ask those wishing to join Kitwe Church as official members to sign up.
  • From those who come into membership we will ask the congregation to suggest to the elders the men they wish to serve as deacons for our church.

My prayer is that you will come to faith in Jesus Christ if you are still contemplating the invitation of Christ to salvation!  Please accept God’s full and free forgiveness of your sin by receiving Christ right now!

For those who know Jesus Christ and have seen the beautiful work of His Spirit in your heart, commit to serving your Lord this week, to obeying Him in all things.

May God’s richest blessings be yours.

Download the sermons or stream online at the following links:

Role of Church Leadership Part 1

Role of Church Leadership Part 2

Download the pdf version Role of Church Leadershop Pt2

Role of Church Leadership – A Ministry of Service in the Church (Part 1)


Role of Church Leadership.001

There are many prevailing ideas about the church today. If we were to ask what comes to your mind when you hear the word “church” we would likely get a variety of answers depending upon your exposure, background and childhood.

Some people view the church in light of liturgy and traditions. Some think of people wearing special clothes and referring to people as Pope, Priests, or Bishops.

Others think of the church in terms of dead orthodoxy. The honest assessment is that church is absolutely boring. What a crime – to bore people with the living Word of God!

Still others see the church as a place to get rich at the expense of the church members!This view is especially prevalent in our society – ministers tell parishioners that it is God’s will for you to be healthy, wealthy and successful. Nothing could actually be further from the truth of the New Testament.

These are people who view God as an heavenly Bellboy. Like those well dressed Bellmen waiting to open doors and carry your bags at a high priced hotel, God is viewed waiting around to serve man. In actual fact the opposite is true! We were created to serve God, not the other way around.
Is it any wonder that many people today view the church as being an organization of hypocrites.

The Church is actually none of the above!

The Church is the Body of Christ. He is the head we are “members of His body”

Eph.5:25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.* 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.

In our relationship with one another in the body we are called upon to serve each other.

Gal. 5:3 Through Love, serve one another!

There are not any “big people” and “little people” in the church. We are all just redeemed sinners on a journey together to heaven! We share a unity with one another that is not centered on a ball or a bottle or a business deal or a cultural back ground but that we share the life of Jesus!

The church is not an organization, it is a living organism!

  • As a living organism it is organized.
  • As a living organism it has life.

Biblical church organization is always a response to the needs of the body.

Biblical church organization is never an end in itself only the means to facilitate what the Lord is doing in His church.

There are two offices in a New Testament church. Search through the NT and you will not find mention mention of priests in reference to church leadership. To find a priest you will need to go to the Old Testament where the priest represented God to the people, he offered sacrifices in the temple.

There are two offices:

Office of Elder – there are three biblical terms applied to the same office. Consider these Scriptures in relation to this office:

  • Episkopos -is interpreted as Overseer, or Bishop.  It speaks of the responsibility the pastor has for the spiritual well-being of the church.

Titus 1:7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.

  • Presbuteros – speaks of the authority, to teach and rule.

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

  • Poimen – is simply to Shepherd, to lead a flock, to guide and provide.

1 Peter 5:2-3 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

Office of Deacon:

Diakonos – Minister and emphasizes the attitude of a servant. Literally it means to wait tables.

Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

In our text in Acts 6:1-7 we find that the first church in Jerusalem was facing a problem that threatened this new congregation.

THE PROBLEM IN THE CHURCH (1)

Problems are Satan’s tactics to destroy the church. Satan is never happy when the gospel is being proclaimed! God was at work, thousands have repented of their sins and placed faith in Jesus.

The first problem: Persecution from outside (4)

The reason: 3000 saved on Pentecost, 5000 men saved and added to the church in Acts 4.4; Believers are being discipled (2.42) and Satan is not going to take that lying down!

The result: Apostles arrested and threatened not to speak in Jesus’ name (4.2-3,21).

Their response: They prayed and asked for boldness to continue to preach (4.29-30).

And the result? Multitudes of disciples were added to the church! (4.32)

Sin from the inside (5:1-11)

In this account we find that a couple wanted to impress the congregation by giving a large financial gift to the church. They were free to give what they wanted, but they chose to lie and say that they were giving all the proceeds from the sale of property when in fact they were keeping a part of the proceeds.

Their Response: The church elders confronted them with their sin and God killed the hypocrites! Wow, imagine if that were to happen to hypocrites in the church today!

What was the result? Multitudes were added to the church (5.14)!

Now we see the third problem: Dissension among the membership (6.1)

When you have people from 16 different countries and language groups come together as one in Christ, there are bound to be misunderstandings! (2:8-11)

Hellenists – Jews who had been dispersed among the nations and had lost much of their ethnic identity, they only spoke Greek.

Hebrews were Jews from Jerusalem who spoke Hebrew. The Pharisees held Hellenists in contempt. This was a deep cultural animosity between the Hebrews and the Hellenists in the culture, and this cultural animosity threatened the unity of this new church!

Church was growing, disciples were multiplying! Possibly 20,000 by this time. Church growth presents new challenges.

The problem was that people were dissatisfied because their needs were not being met. Widows of the Hellenists were being neglected, while the widows of the Hebrews were being cared for. God cares for the widows, and so must the church! (I Timothy 5.3)

So we will pick up the story and lessons from here next week.

Listen or Download mp3: Role of Church Leadership – A Ministry of Service in the Church (Part 1)

Qualities Required in Church Leaders: Family, Maturity & Reputation


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People do not usually rise above their leaders! The character and effectiveness of any church is directly related to the quality of its leadership. Failure to adhere to biblical standards for leadership has caused many of the problems in the church today.

Paul is writing to Timothy, a young pastor at the church of Ephesus because men who were unqualified had found their way into church leadership (1:3, 4:1-3). Some were women (2:12) others were guilty of sin and needed public rebuke (5:20). (Acts 20:29-30)

The qualifications for church leadership deal with character, not gifts and abilities. Someone has said that “Character is what you are when no one is looking.”

God does not have a double standard; He requires all disciples to live blameless lives. For a pastor or deacon to fail to live blameless means he is not qualified to serve in the office.

In our previous study in First Timothy chapter three we have seen that:

CHURCH LEADERS MUST HAVE BLAMELESS CHARACTER (2-3, I Co. 9:27)

You can read the eleven character qualities mentioned in verses 2 to 3. Today we want to begin with verse four:

CHURCH LEADERS MUST HAVE A BLAMELESS FAMILY LIFE (4-5,11-12)

His leadership in the family (4)

He is to manage his home.(4)

“Rule” means to preside over, rule, manage. There are shared responsibilities in the home, but the man is the leader. (Eph. 5:25)

He is to manage his home WELL! (4)

He is to manage his home excellently, beautifully; “well” means something that is appealing to the eye. There are men who rule their home, but they don’t rule it very well – they don’t achieve the desired result.

He is a good ruler of his family (Eph. 6:4).

His children are submissive = military term, to line up in rank under order. His children are respectful – they are reverent, controlled, and disciplined.

Father’s we must not provoke our children to wrath!

  • Bring them up – speaks of tender involvement of the Father in the life of his children.
  • Discipline or training.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov 22:6

He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. Prov. 13:24

  • Instruction – to verbally instruct our children.  One way we train our children in the things of God is to lead our family in family devotions.  There are many good resources that you can use to share the Word with your family.

His wife is a godly example (11, Eph. 5:22-24)

It is possible that a man who is qualified for spiritual leadership can be disqualified on the family level.

His leadership in the church (5)

The sphere of his rule – “church of God;” the local assembly.

The nature of his rule – “care” – sacrificial giving on behalf of others (Good Samaritan, Lk. 10:30-34).

CHURCH LEADERS MUST BE BLAMELESS IN SPIRITUAL MATURITY (6,10)

Those who are placed into church leadership must now be new converts; “Not a novice.”

He must be humble. Humility is to be ranked below others who are honored or rewarded. To have a modest opinion of oneself. He would never campaign for the position, and is filled with holy fear the thought of serving as leader in the church.

He must not be a new convert but rather he must be spiritually mature.

The reason is to avoid pride.  To avoid falling under the same condemnation as the devil. Lucifer was disqualified from service and cast out because of pride. (Ezk. 28:14-17; Is. 14:12-14) See: Diotrophes (3 Jn. 9)

CHURCH LEADERS MUST HAVE A BLAMELESS PUBLIC REPUTATION (7.10,11)

The quality of his reputation – Good

A leaders must have good internal character and good external reputation. Testimony is the report, the testimony of other people.

Evaluation of his reputation – Outside

This is the reputation he has out in the community, not among those in the church. He has a reputation for integrity, love, kindness, generosity and goodness among those in the community who know him.

He is seen as a man of character. Does not take or offer bribes. Does not lie or misrepresent the truth to get what he wants or to escape unpleasant consequences.

Consequence of his reputation – Reproach

Disgrace (Ro. 2:24; Phil. 2:15). A spiritual leader should not be embarrassed at what might be found if someone were to interview his associates. Failure to have a blameless public reputation leaves the leader with potential for entrapment, Paul refers to this as the 
snare of the devil” (I Pt. 5:8).

So there we have it…

The Ephesian church needed to examine her leaders in the light of biblical qualifications. We too must examine our leaders in the light of these same qualifications. Church leadership is not a popularity contest, it is not for those who have physical and mental giftedness but who lack Christian character.

God has identified the moral character, family life, maturity, and reputation He requires of church leaders. The future of any church depends upon the quality of its leaders. Everything rises and falls on leadership!

God does not have a double standard – one for leaders and one for other believers. These qualifications apply to EVERY believer. However in leaders it is crucial.

The congregation will learn only what they see modeled in their leadership. IT MUST BEGIN WITH THE LEADERS!

Download this Bible Study: Qualities Required in Church Leaders Web #3

Qualities Required in Church Leaders


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“People do not usually rise above their leaders.” That is very true.

The character and effectiveness of any church is directly related to the quality of its leadership.  Refusal to adhere to biblical standards for leadership are the cause of many of the problems in the church today.  In fact that is why the charge is often heard, “There are hypocrites in the church.”

Every leader has the power to influence others for good or evil through his example (4:12; I Pt. 5:3).  When a church leader does not live according to the standard God sets out, the Faith is undermined.

I read a report this week that said the pool at the bottom of the Kariba Dam is tens of meters deeper than it should be.  The water pouring out of the spillway is threatening to undermine Kariba and the fear is that if not corrected one day the dam will collapse.

When the church accepts leaders who do not meet God’s qualifications, the Christian faith is undermined in the minds of immature Christians and before an unbelieving world.

Our talk and our walk should match!  I heard this saying as a kid and it has stuck with me: “Your walk, talks and your talk, talks; but your walk talks louder than your talk, talks.”

In 1 Timothy 3:1-13 Paul is writing to Timothy, a young pastor at the church of Ephesus because men who were unqualified had found their way into church leadership (1:3, 4:1-3). Some were women (2:12) others were guilty of sin and needed public rebuke (5:20, Acts 20:29-30).

Some Helpful Definitions: Biblical church leadership terms defined: (Elder v.1-7; Deacon v.8-13)

Office of Elder: Three terms for the same office:

  • Bishop – gr. Episkopos = Overseer, responsible for the spiritual well-being of the church (Phil 1:1, Titus 1:7)
  • Elder – gr. Presbuteros = Authority, to teach and rule (I Tim 5:17, Titus 1:5,7)
  • Pastor – gr. Poimen = Shepherd, to lead, guide, provide (I Pt 5:2, Acts 20:28)

Office of Deacon:

Deacon – gr. Diakonos = Minister, emphasizes the attitude of a servant. (12)

God requires church leaders to model a high standard of godliness. That is why I Timothy 3 does not list qualifications typical of today’s corporate leaders: Diligence, foresight, vision, administrative skills, decisiveness, courage, humor, eloquence, friendliness, tact, diplomacy etc.

The qualifications for church leaders deal with character, not gifts and abilities. Someone has said that “Character is what you are when no one is looking.”

The Ephesian church needed to examine its leaders and God gave specific specific qualities to look for.  The main characteristic of all of these qualities is BLAMELESSNESS (2)

  • “He must be blameless” – This means there is nothing to accuse him of. If a malicious charge were to be made, those who know his character would consider the charge absolutely unbelievable. The blameless Pastor is an example for the congregation to follow. (Phil. 3:17)
  • He must be above reproach. This speaks of integrity or innocence.  It means that the Pastor is not hypocritical but sincere (Mt. 23:13-15).

Now let’s be very clear, God does not have a double standard, he requires all disciples to live blameless lives. However, a pastor or deacon must be blameless or he is not qualified to serve in the office.

CHURCH LEADERS MUST HAVE BLAMELESS CHARACTER (2-3, I Co. 9:27)

He must be sexually pure (2,12)

Husband of one wife – Lit. “one-woman-man”. This is a man who is devoted in heart and mind to the woman who is his wife. He loves, desires and thinks only of her.  By implication, he must not be divorced and remarried, or have more than one wife.

Husband of one wife is not speaking of the death of a spouse and then remarriage (1 Co.7:39), nor is it teaching that a pastor must be married, Paul was not married (1 Co. 7:8).

Paul makes a connection that a man’s ability to manage his own home and marriage indicate ability to oversee a local church.

He must be temperate / sober-minded (2)

Not given to excesses.  This speaks of a state of mind which is free from the excessive indulgence of passion, lust, or emotion. He is able to keep his head in all situations.

The word temperate is “Nephalios” which literally means wineless or unmixed with wine. It implies being watchful, clear-headed. A church leader must posses inner strength to refrain from any excess that would dull his alertness.

William Hendriksen comments,

“Such a person lives deeply. His pleasures are not primarily those of the senses, like the pleasures of a drunkard for instance, but those of the soul. He is filled with spiritual and moral earnestness. He is not given to excess, but is moderate, well-balanced, calm, careful, steady, and sane. This pertains to his physical, moral, and mental tastes and habits.”

He must be prudent / self-controlled (2)

A church leader is a man who is well disciplined, he is able to order his priorities. He has a serious attitude about his work. Does not cheapen the ministry or the gospel by foolish behavior, inappropriate humor, poor judgement or patterns of wrong thinking (Phil 4:8).

He is respectable (2)

He is a man who is well organized in his thinking, teaching and living.  The opposite of this idea is “chaos”.

He is hospitable (I Pt. 4:9; Ro. 12:13)

He is a man who loves strangers. He is friendly and kind to strangers (Lk. 14:12-14). A church leader must not be unapproachable or isolated from his people. His home is a tool for God’s service. His availability makes it possible for his people to see his true character as he interacts with the various aspects of life and ministry both inside and outside the home.

He is able to teach (2, Ro. 12:7)

Dr. Howard Hendricks used to say, “It is a sin to bore people with the Word or God!”  A Pastor must have the gift of teaching, to explain and apply the Word of God in a way that connects with the head and heart of the hearer.

This is the one qualification that distinguishes a Pastor and a Deacon. A deacon does not have to have the gift of teaching. He is skilled in communicating Christian teaching. (II Ti. 2:2).

He is not a drunkard (3,8)

Not “one who drinks”. This was especially important in the Ephesian culture! Alcohol was frequently a part of their pagan worship and dominated ancient Greek culture.  Drunken orgies were a means of bringing the worshipper in contact with the deity.  A church leader is to stay away from anything that hints of this lifestyle!

The work used here is “parinos” and refers to a person’s associations and thus his reputation. Paul is saying that a Pastor is not someone who frequents bars and taverns. He is not at home in the noisy scenes associated with drinking. His lifestyle is not that of a drinker.

Th principle that governs us in this is found in I Co. 10:31 – “Whether therefore you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Spiritual leaders must stay away from anything that distorts their judgment or distracts from their testimony.

He is not Violent – not a fighter (3)

This speaks of physical violence and verbal violence (1 Ti. 6:4-5). He does not go around looking for a fight. CH Spurgeon commented to his pastoral students, “Don’t go about the world with your fist doubled up for fighting, carrying a theological revolver in the leg of your trousers.”

So let’s pause here to evaluate our own Christian walk as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  How does your life relate and match up to these first eight qualities that God is working into every one of His followers?

Are you walking in sexual purity in your head and in your heart?  Are you sober-minded, self-controlled, well-organized, and hospitable?  Do you stay away from the lifestyle of the drunkard?  Do you refrain from physical and verbal abuse?

In our personal evaluation we are likely to see one or two areas where there is need for God’s gracious work.  The change or growth required is possible through the inner working of God’s powerful Spirit!

Take a moment to talk with God and seek His help in shaping your character into His image.

Download pdf Qualities Required In Church Leaders

Download mp3 sermon

(I am particularly appreciative to Dr. John MacArthur and his 1 Timothy commentary on this text.  The MacArthur commentary series is user friendly and often devotional.  If you can acquire it you will be blessed.)