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Two Church Offices:
The biblical teaching on the subject of two church offices is found in I Timothy 3:1-16 and Titus 1:5-9. Though there are three terms used for the offices of the church, i.e. bishop, elder, and deacon, a careful analysis of these terms indicates that bishop and elder are used interchangeably, with the bishop simply being the 'ruling' or leading elder. The pastors of the church have the spiritual authority of the elders. However, with the exception of the Senior Pastor, they will serve on the board only as needed and at the request of the elders.
When the need arises for additional elders, a nominee will be recommended by the existing Board of Elders. In keeping with the clear biblical injunctions regarding authority structures within the church only men will be considered for the office of elder. An in-depth interview will ensue to determine if the nominee is biblically qualified. The congregation will then be reminded of the biblical requirement for elders and given 30 days to speak personally with the nominee if they are aware of any disqualifying characteristics. If the matter remains unresolved, the nominee or church member should approach the Board of Elders and request that their name be withdrawn from consideration.
Since Scripture indicates no fixed term for elders, no specific fixed term of office is recommended. Instead, each elder, upon appointment, shall be asked for a three year commitment. At the end of three years the commitment will be reviewed, along with a possible recommitment and reaffirmation by fellow elders. During the review, both the individual and the other elders shall evaluate his continued service as an elder, again considering the biblical qualifications, as well as any personal factors that might affect his service. An individual's service as an elder may be discontinued by his own decisions or by a consensus decision of the other elders. A person leaving the Board of Elders would not preclude his service as a future elder, subject to the regular selection process.
The Scriptures are clear that the elder's responsibility is the spiritual oversight of the congregation. The elder's responsibility can be broken down into three main areas:
- Ensuring that the doctrine of the church remains purely biblical; all doctrinal issues in the church will be settled by the Board of Elders.
- Ensuring that the direction of the church remains consistent with our statement of purpose and the four pillars statement as outlined in the Constitution.
- Administering in love and humility the biblical process of church discipline as outlined in Matthew 18:15-20 and Galatians 6:1-4. All decisions affecting the overall doctrine, direction, and discipline of the church will be the responsibility of the Board of Elders.
All elders will have equal authority and responsibility. The Senior Pastor will work in cooperation with the Elder Board Chairman to ensure healthy ministry development and strong accountability. Agenda items for the elder meetings must be submitted to the Elder Board Chairman prior to the elders' meeting. An elders' meeting may not be held without a majority of the elders present and the entirety of the elders informed. The Elder Board Chairman will be selected by consensus decision of the Board of Elders with no fixed term and may not be one of the pastors. The Elder Board will consist of the Chairman, the Senior Pastor, the Chairman of the Deacons Board and additional elders, who will assume responsibility as agreeable and necessary.
Qualifications (Titus 1:6-9)
All members of the pastoral staff will be chosen by the Board of Elders. The Senior Pastor will automatically be a member of the Board of Elders. The elders may nominate additional member(s) of the pastoral staff to serve on the Board of Elders.
All pastoral staff members will serve for an indefinite period of time. The Senior Pastor is responsible and accountable in the performance of his duties to the Board of Elders. All other staff members are responsible to the Board of Elders through the Senior Pastor. A staff member may only be dismissed by a consensus decision of the Board of Elders.
The responsibility of the Senior Pastor will be to faithfully preach God's Word and model the priority of discipleship within the church. He will give oversight and direction to all ministry staff and work with the Board of Elders in carrying out the overall vision of Harvest Bible Chapel.
The qualifications are equivalent to the biblical qualifications of an elder.
Additional Pastoral Staff:
Ministry descriptions for the remaining pastoral staff will be established by the Board of Elders in keeping with the giftedness of the individual and agreed upon at the time of hiring.
The office of deacon is one that exists biblically to give leadership to the serving functions of the church (Acts 6). The qualification for deacons are the same as elder in the area of character, but different in aptitude. The elders are to be "apt to teach" while the deacons are to be "able and proved as servants".
When the need arises for additional deacons, a nominee will be recommended by the existing Board of Elders. Following an independent interview to determine if the nominee is biblically qualified, the congregation will be reminded of the biblical requirements for deacons and given 30 days to speak personally with the nominee if they are aware of any disqualifying characteristics. If the matter remains unresolved, the nominee or church member should approach the Board of Elders and request that their name be withdrawn from consideration.
Since Scripture indicates no fixed term for deacons, no specific term of office is recommended. Instead, each deacon, upon appointment, shall be asked for a two year commitment. At the end of two years the commitment will be reviewed, along with a possible recommitment and reaffirmation by fellow deacons.
During the review, both the individual and the other deacons, shall evaluate his continued service as a deacon, again considering the biblical qualifications as well as any personal factors that might affect his service. An individual's service as a deacon may be discontinued by his own decision or by the consensus decision of the Deacons Board. Upon their request the elders will have the opportunity to participate in the review process.
A person leaving the Board of Deacons would not preclude his service as a future deacon, subject to the regular selection process.
Deacons shall serve a term of two years and be eligible for additional terms upon nomination of the Board of Elders. A deacon may only be dismissed by a consensus decision of the Board of Elders.
The Board of Deacons will be responsible for the oversight of all financial, benevolent, ordinance, and facility operations of the church.
The Board of Deacons shall consist of a chairman, who shall be a member of the Board of Elders. The church treasurer will be the deacon in charge of finances. The remainder of the deacons will assume responsibilities as agreeable and as needed.
Qualifications (I Timothy 3:8-12)
The Church Secretary will be any member of the church with the qualities of faithfulness, spiritual maturity, and a reputation for keeping confidences. The Church Secretary will attend board meetings and business meetings of the church and record the minutes of these meetings. The minutes will then be formally prepared by the Church Secretary and distributed to the appropriate people one week before their next meeting. Corporate offices, as required by law, will be subject to church offices as outlined by this Constitution. The Church Secretary will be chosen by the Board of Elders with no fixed term.
At the discretion of the Board of Elders, a Full Board meeting may be called. The Full Board consists of the three divisions of church leadership: the pastoral staff which is responsible for the day to day operation of the church; the deacons who direct the financial, benevolent, ordinance, and facility operations of the church; and the elders, who oversee the doctrine, direction, and discipline of the church. The Elders may also include, when needed, small group coaches and/or leaders or other key ministry leaders who are not on staff in a Full Board meeting. All are to be under the authority of, and in submission to, the Board of Elders.