Position of the Providence Church Elders:
At Providence Church we affirm that Jesus Christ alone is the Head of the church. Furthermore, we affirm that He governs His church through office bearers whom He appoints and who are endowed by His Spirit with the gifts and graces needed to accomplish their work. Because Christ appoints church officers, they have authority, but Christ limits their authority in the Scriptures.
We believe that there are but two kinds of church officers: elders and deacons. Elders are also called “bishops” (meaning “overseers”) because they are charged with the oversight of the assembly. These men are also the “pastors and teachers” given to the church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Elders only function (according to the will of Christ) as an extension of the heart and hand of Christ, overseeing His flock committed to their charge. Deacons are servant leaders who function under the oversight of the elders. The deacons exist to protect the elders from being distracted from prayer, the ministry of the Word of God, and the oversight of the flock of Christ by giving themselves over to ministry within the body. (Acts 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 3:8-13)
Under the general oversight of the elders, the deacons will manage the physical, social, and benevolent functions of the church, with the attending financial responsibilities of each (Acts 6:2-4). All candidates for the office of deacon must meet the qualifications for the office set down in Scripture (1 Timothy 3:8-13). They shall:
- Be reverent. An over arching requirement that permeates all other qualifications, they will command respect by their demeanor. They will be responsible.
- Not be double-tongued. As ministers among the people they should not say one thing to one person and another to the next, on the same subject. They should be trustworthy.
- Not be given to much wine. Like elders, deacons should not be drunkards.
- Not greedy for money. Entrusted with the church’s money, deacons must be proven free from greed.
- Hold the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. Given their extensive contact with the members of the church, deacons should have a firm understanding and passionate desire for the Gospel of Christ.
- Their wives must be of the same character. They should be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things (pertaining to the mystery of the faith).
- Shall be the husband of one wife. Literally, “a one woman man.” This qualification is not specifically dealing with the marital status of the deacon; rather, his life should be marked by sexual purity and devotion to his wife. If single, he should be pure and blameless in his relationship with women.
- Rule his house well. He should be the overseer and spiritual leader of his family. His wife and children should not be unruly, causing a distraction to his ministry or blight upon the church.
The elders of Providence Community Church are united in their belief that a divorced man may serve as a deacon under certain conditions and if he meets the qualifications listed above. If a man’s family life is marked by disharmony and unruliness brought about by previous sin and family break-up, he is disqualified. However, if he had a divorce or was divorced and remarried prior to his conversion, and has since proved himself to be a “one woman man” and to “rule his own house well” as described in 1 Timothy, he may well be qualified to serve. Also, if he, as a believer, had a biblically allowable divorce or had a biblically allowable divorce and remarried in the Lord and has since proved himself to be a “one woman man” and to “rule his own house well,” he may well be qualified to serve. Sin being what it is, other situations may arise that call for additional prayer and study before elders rule on the fitness of a candidate for office.
Those deacons who serve the Body of Christ well are deserving of honor and should be listened to in matters of the faith (1 Timothy 3:13)
Selection of Deacons
Elections will be held from time to time as circumstances warrant. A man may be considered as a potential deacon in several ways. He may aspire to the office himself, the elders or deacons may approach him, or individuals in the church may suggest his name to the elders or deacons. Once he becomes a candidate, the elders will examine him concerning his doctrine and manner of life. The deacons will then include the candidate in their work in order to prove his fitness for the office (1 Timothy 3:10). When the candidate has shown, in the unanimous judgment of the deacons, his fitness for office, the deacons will make a recommendation to the elders to place his name on the ballot. The elders will examine the candidate again with regard to his suitability for the diaconate. If the candidate has any disagreement or mental reservation about any portion of the church’s Confession of Faith or Constitution, then he must inform the elders of it. All candidates must meet the qualifications for the office as listed above.
A man may not be placed on the ballot without the unanimous consent of the current elders. Once on the ballot, the Representative Members have the option of voting either “yes” or “no. If, in the unanimous judgment of the elders, the candidate receives the clear and obvious support of the church as represented, the elders will ordain the new deacon to the ministry through the laying on of hands and prayer (Acts 6:6).
If a candidate for office is not elected, then an elder will meet with him within one week to discuss the election and answer any questions the candidate might have.
Duties and Responsibilities:
- Ministering to widows.
- Assisting the elders with the Lord’s Table.
- Disbursing benevolence funds.
- Overseeing building maintenance.
- Serving the various physical needs of the congregation as they arise.
Acts 6:1-6 gives us a pattern of service the deacons at Providence Community Church should strive to attain. They are to look after those who are least able to look after themselves and by circumstance may not be able to repay. In this way they practice true and undefiled religion (James 1:27).