Church Officers: Nomination and Election Procedures
Clemson Presbyterian Church, PCA
The Apostle Paul teaches us that the desire to serve as an officer in the church is a worthy ambition. He heartily endorses it, but he then explains in 1Timothy 3 the demanding requirements of being an elder or deacon. So, the desire to be a spiritual leader in the church is a good thing, but not everyone is qualified to serve as an officer. Those who aspire to office in the church must meet the highest standards, and must be examined and tested (1Timothy 3:15).
Paul describes the church as the “household of God…the
church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1Tim.3:15). Those are strong statements, and if we
believe them, we must embrace a high view of the church, and seek only the most
qualified men to lead her. Officer
nominations and elections have little to do with popularity and a lot to do
with a person’s consistent and deepening love for God above all things which
nurtures a growing love and servant attitude toward his neighbor. In the
The Offices of Elder and Deacon
Elder - The office of elder is one of spiritual oversight and government of the church (Titus 1:5ff, 1 Tim. 3:1-7). In the NT elders are sometimes referred to as shepherds (Acts 20:28, 1Peter 5:1-3) because they are charged with the care and nurture of the church just as a shepherd cares for his flock. Elders are also responsible for the teaching ministry of the church (1Tim.5:17-18). Thus, elders must both understand the truths of God’s word, and be able to effectively minister in the body as one who encourages, edifies and when needed, confronts and rebukes.
Deacon - The office of deacon is one of service, extending mercy and sympathy to those in need, especially to those within the church. Deacons are first mentioned in Acts 6:1-6, as those chosen to minister to the physical needs within the church. The spiritual nature of the deacon’s service of mercy is no less vital than the elder’s rule; the health of the church is inseparably tied to both offices.
The duty of the office is threefold: 1) To minister to those in need and distress, 2) To administrate financial issues within the church (giving and distributions of gifts), and 3) To care for the church’s property.
Any man assuming the office of elder or deacon must meet the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9 (elder) and 1 Timothy 3:8-13 (deacon). Both offices are perpetual – that is, for life, unless extraordinary circumstances allow or call for the dissolution of one’s office.
Qualifications for Church Office
The qualifications for elder and deacon are listed by Paul in I Timothy and Titus 1. Generally and briefly, they are as follows:
Above Reproach Is the candidate living in such a way that no one can point a finger at him for ungodly habits or actions?
Husband of One Wife Literally, this means a “one-woman man.” Is the candidate, if married, a loving and faithful husband; or if single, is he above reproach in his relationships with women? This qualification does not forbid a biblically divorced man from holding office. The focus is on a candidate’s purity in thought, word and deed, toward women, and faithfulness to one’s wife.
Temperate Is the candidate self-controlled in all areas of his life? Does he over-indulge himself in any areas?
Prudent Is the candidate sound, reasonable and wise in his thoughts,
words and deeds?
Respectable Is the candidate respected by his peers, and is he a good model of Christianity for others?
Hospitable – “love for strangers.” Does the candidate meet people well, and is his home open to minister to Christians, as well as non-Christians?
Able to Teach Is the candidate able to communicate biblical truth to either small groups, large groups or individuals?
Not Addicted to Wine Does he have any habits he cannot control, particularly in the area of food and drink?
Not Pugnacious Is he prone to fighting and arguing, with family or friends?
Gentle, Uncontentious Does he have an “even” temper, and a reasonable and teachable spirit?
Free from the love of money Is the accumulation of material wealth a primary motivation and object of concern for him? Is he generous?
Manages His Household Well Does he lead his wife and children well? Does he have the respect of his wife and children?
Not a New Convert Does he have a track record of Christian maturity and growth in grace?
A Good Reputation With Those Outside the Church Does he have a good reputation at his place of employment and in his neighborhood?
Able to Encourage Others by Sound Doctrine and Refute Those Who Oppose It Elders must be informed doctrinally. In the PCA, an Elder must understand and believe the system of doctrine summarized in The Westminster Confession of Faith and Large and Shorter Catechisms.
Qualifications for deacon include some of those noted previously with the following additions:
Dignity Is he respected for devotion to the Lord?
Not Double-tongued Is he honest, does he tend to say one thing and mean another?
Loving What is Good Does he look for, and expect, the best in other people? Are his values consistent with biblical values?
Hold to the deep truths of the faith Deacons are not required to teach, but they must be committed to and believe The Westminster Confession of Faith and Large and Shorter Catechisms.
Procedure for Election of Officers
Nomination—An officer must be nominated by a member of the congregation.
Session Approval of Nominees—The elders in a congregation have the responsibility of evaluating all nominees initially for their fitness for service as an officer.
Training and Examination—Nominees who accept the nomination to office are required to attend Officer Training Classes. The purpose of the class is to train, educate and examine nominees in the areas of Christian Experience and call to the office, Theology, Church Government and Bible knowledge.
Election—If the nominees are approved following their examination, they are presented to the church at a congregational meeting. A simple majority vote is required to elect the officers.
Installation and Ordination—New Officers are installed and ordained according to the procedures in the PCA Book of Church Order, Chapter 24.
Term of Service—is for life with four years of service followed by a one year sabbatical.
Each member should be aware of his responsibility to prayerfully nominate those men for office who demonstrate the biblical qualifications for office.