I would like to share why Metro Praise International believes it is so important to have a strong church built on the two main church offices (elders/deacons) and the five-fold ministry gifts (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, & teacher).
MPI Church believes in restoring the biblical form of government back to the modern church, namely the offices of Elders and Deacons. Since today in many churches people confuse the “gifts” with the “offices” I will take the next few paragraphs to explain the difference between the two. The five-fold ministry gifts found in Ephesians 4:11 are (1) Apostles (2) Prophets (3) Evangelists (4) Pastors, and (5) Teachers. The two offices found in 1 Timothy 3 are, (1) Elders and (2) Deacons.
Therefore, we simply believe that the “gifts” are given to those who fulfill the requirements of the two offices, Elders and Deacons. As a result we believe that the gifts are given by God and the offices are appointed by walking worthy of a true minister.
Gifts vs. Offices
1 Timothy 3:1 & 10 (KJV), 1 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
Here are some simple points to better understand the biblical way of viewing leadership as Elders/Deacons verses the all encompassing title “pastor.” First, none of the leaders in the church used their office or gift before their name. You never find the phrase the “Apostle Paul” in the Bible; it is always, “Paul, the Apostle” (Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:1, Col. 1:1, & 1 Tim. 1:1). Also, the idea to call everyone in the church “Pastor” has been a tradition that is not found in the Bible. (For example, to call someone in the church “Pastor Bob.”)
Second, the word “Pastor” is only translated as such 1x in the New Testament and that is when it is listed in the Five-fold ministry. However, the word is translated 15x as the word, “shepherd.” Therefore, if the title was to be used properly it would be “Shepherd Bob” not “Pastor Bob.”
Thirdly, everyone in the ministry was either an Elder or a Deacon and then they operated in their ministerial gifts. For example, we know that Peter was called to be an Apostle by Jesus and that was his ministry gift from God out of the Five-fold ministry. However, he referred to his office as an Elder and he commanded all the Elders to be good shepherds, so it is clear that Elders pastored or shepherd. Therefore, the office of Elder or Deacon is the “noun” or “title” and the gifts, such as Pastor, are the “verbs” or the “actions” the Elders or Deacons perform in their office.
Please read Peter describe how he thought of himself as an Elder in his office:
1 Peter 5:1-4, “1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
Therefore, Elders who are gifted as Teachers, teach. Elders, who are gifted as Evangelists, evangelize. Elders, who are gifted as Prophets, prophesy. Elders, who are gifted as Apostles, are sent out. And Elders, who are gifted as Pastors, pastor (or shepherd). Therefore, we not only see that Elders are used in the Five-Fold ministry, but so are Deacons. Take for example, Philip who was appointed by the twelve apostles to be the first of seven Deacons and also was called an Evangelist.
Acts 6:2-6, ” So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait (This is the first time the Greek word for Deacon is used, “diakoneo”) on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
Acts 21:8, “Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.”
Therefore, at Metro Praise we use the government system of “Elders and Deacons.” Our goal is to make every believer a disciple and ordain every disciple as an Elder or Deacon. We believe everyone in the church should do the work of the ministry for the building up of the body of Christ.
Titus 1:5, “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.
Elders & Deacons
Elders and Deacons are the offices in the church that God uses to rule and govern the Body of Believers. Everyone can desire or set their heart on being an Elder or Deacon, but only God can give each person their gift of ministry. Therefore, every believer should live up to the standards of the office of Elder and Deacon and seek God for their own personal calling and gifting. Then at the right time God will give each person an anointing and an appointing into ministry. I truly believe that God will give each person who desires to be used in the ministry one or many of the Five-Fold Ministries!
Therefore, set your heart on God and the noble task of being a leader and let the Holy Spirit set your life on FIRE! Here are the requirements for a disciple to be an Elder or Deacon by Paul.
Elders, 1 Timothy 3:1-7,
“1 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self- controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of Gods church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devils trap.”
Deacons, 1 Timothy 3:8-13,
“8 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11 In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.”
List of Requirements for Both Elders & Deacons
At Metro Praise we believe the qualifications of the Elder and the Deacon are one in the same, and thus we as a church determine, with the leading of the Holy Ghost, what each person should be appointed and ordained as. Here is the complete list of requirements with definitions and examples so that you may have a clear and sound understanding of how you ought to live if you want to used by God as a Elder or Deacon.
Elders and Deacons Must Be:
- Above reproach: Elders and Deacons must always be in good standing with the church and nothing seen in the Bible can prove them of sin or err.
- Husband of One Wife: Elders and Deacons cannot be polygamists, or have an unbiblical divorce.
- Temperate: Elders and Deacons must have their emotions under control, they cannot be easily angered, depressed or full of pride, they must have a balanced emotional life.
- Self-Controlled: Elders and Deacons can not be addicted to anything in this world; not to sports, food, perversion, or the like.
- Respectable: Elders and Deacons must live their lives worthy of respect in the areas of finances, integrity, speech, time management and overall lifestyle in the community, church and home.
- Hospitable: Elders and Deacons must have a home and heart that is always open to fellowship, discipleship, and comfort for the people they minister to.
- Able to Teach: Elders and Deacons must be able to teach the sound doctrine of the Apostles, passionate worship for God, the true Gospel of repentance, and instruct new believers in the way of true discipleship and devotion to Jesus and His commands.
- Not Given To Drunkenness: Elders and Deacons must not be addicted to alcohol or the like (cigarettes, drugs, etc).
- Not Violent, But Gentle: Elders and Deacons must be kind and loving to the world that opposes them and patient with those they are disciplining.
- Not Quarrelsome: Elders and Deacons must be able to learn under submission of the other Elders and they must teach with humility, not with an attitude of pride and dissension.
- Not a Lover of Money: Elders and Deacons must be tithers, generous givers, and not indebted to the lusts of this world; they must be an example of a wise steward of God’s financial blessings and not pursue dishonest gain in any way.
- Manage Their Home Well: Elders and Deacons must keep their home in order. The children should serve God and must be submitted to them as their parents. This also includes the marriage as seen in 1 Timothy 3:11, both the husband and wife must live equally godly lives and the wives must not be slanderers, but rather trustworthy.
- Not a recent convert: Elders and Deacons must be thoroughly trained and proved faithful before they are given their appointment. Therefore, they must be tested and approved before they are appointed.
- Must Have a Good Reputation: Elders and Deacons must have a good name in their community, on their job, and with their extended family. There can be no evil thing said about them, as seen in the Bible, whether in their character or conduct by non- Christians.
Women in the Ministry
Our church does not withhold the office of Deacon or Elder from women because we believe that women are able to lead in the church according to Scripture. We see that women in the New Testament were given the same baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Five-fold ministry gifts, and were used in the offices. Here are some verses that show the equality of men and women in the ministry.
Acts 2:17-18, ” In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”
Acts 18:24-26, ” Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.”
Romans 16:1 (NLT), “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. However, we do insist that a married couple be in agreement and both be ordained to the same position, meaning we do not agree with a man being an Elder and his wife being a Deacon, or the wife being a deacon and the believing husband is not in ministry. We believe that for all believing families that both husband and wife must be appointed to the same office of either Elder or Deacon. Read some of the examples of husbands and wives working together as a team.”
Romans 16:7, “Greet Andronicus and Junia (name of wife), my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was..”
If a believer is married to an unbeliever we do not forbid the believing spouse to have a position in the church as long as they are not hindered from serving by the unbelieving spouse and or brought into reproach on Biblical grounds by the unbelieving spouse. So if the believing spouse is truly serving God with all their might, we will not withhold any good thing from them in the ministry.
How the Church Works
I will now take a few moments to explain how Metro Praise governs itself with the system of Elders and Deacons. First, we have three different categories of Elders because we see that in the New Testament even though Peter was an Elder like the Elders he was writing to, he had a greater authority than them and was over them. So with the desire to stay as close to the New Testament example and the early church form of government we have made three types of Elders. Which are:
- Apostolic Elders: Elders that oversee the Pastoral Elders and kept them accountable, this would be like Peter overseeing the churches he was writing to, or like Paul to Timothy.
- Pastoral Elders: Elders that shepherd and watch over the whole church and implement the God given vision for the church, this would be like Timothy and the church he oversaw at Ephesus.
- Governing Elders: Elders that lead different ministers and services, these would be like the Elders that Timothy and Titus both appointed in their cities and churches to manage the church’s affairs.
- Deacons: Servant leaders that work and assist the Elders in the various ministries. Deacons are the servants and helpers of the ministry that make it possible for the Elders to do their job. Just like when the original Apostles (Elders) needed help, they appointed seven servants (Deacons) to wait on tables and take care of the needs of the people so they could focus on the study of God’s Word and prayer (Acts 6:1-7).
I hoped you enjoyed reading about why Elders and Deacons are so important. May God build His church on disciples in the order of godly leadership!