Below you can see some of the things that are happening at Living Water Church. If you have any questions regarding these events, please reach out to us or check out our social media pages.
Join LWC and other Nebraska Churches as we gather at camp of the Good Shepherd for children's camp. Sign up is due June 22nd
Elder and Deacon Nomination
Nominations Due July 31st
We will be collecting nominations for Elders and Deacons through the month of July. Please be in prayer regarding who God is calling to serve in these areas. Qualifications are laid out for both offices in the 1 Timothy 3 and should be closely evaluated before nominating a candidate. In addition, below is a brief overview of church government and how it pertains to the office of elders and deacons.
Leadership of the Church
Though the bible does not provide specific instruction for how the church is supposed to be governed, there are several key principles that exist in the various models represented in scripture. One of those key principles is that churches are to be led by elders. The word elder is synonymous with pastor, overseer, and bishop and describes the person, or persons, responsible for shepherding the church.
When the congregation selects an elder to shepherd them, they should look for an individual who meets the qualifications laid out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. In these passages, Apostle Paul states that an elder is to be a man who: has a good reputation; if married, has a solid relationship with his wife and demonstrates marital fidelity; if a father, demonstrates the ability to develop Christ-centered family-harmony; works toward the welfare of others rather than himself; is level-headed; avoids substances that diminish restraint; is peaceful; is honest with money; is welcoming and hospitable; demonstrate goodness, wisdom, and justice; able to teach; a good manager; and a man with Christian experience.
While most of the attributes in this list are applicable to all Christians in the church, they specifically apply to the office of elder in that they correlate with his various responsibilities. As the leader of the church, the elder should serve as an example of the Christian life for the mutual benefit of the church and the community to which they minister. If an elder neglects to live out his faith in such a way, it demolishes the other areas of responsibility to which he is called.
Of these responsibilities, teaching is primary. The elder is responsible for communicating the word of God and explaining the meaning of the text to the congregation. This role will involve preaching and teaching before the entire congregation during weekly assemblies, and also in other contexts as the opportunities arise. Though conducting weddings and funerals are not biblical mandates for elders, or the church in general, it provides a meaningful platform to expound God’s word and should be utilized for feeding and shepherding God’s people.
Shepherding, or pastoring, is the next responsibility of the elder. Beyond the congregations need for hearing the word of God expounded is their need for prayer, advice, compassion, encouragement, rebuke, and a host of other emotional and relational needs. The willingness to walk alongside the congregation as they journey through the ups and downs of life is essential to the ministerial role.
A final responsibility of the elder is managing the church and its functions. While the church is under congregational rule, the elder acts on behalf of the people, as an overseer and manager of the various platforms through which they do ministry. In some cases, the elder may personally be involved in managerial oversight, while in some instances he may delegate responsibility to others. However, the elder should be free to lead and manage the day to day operations of the church’s ministry.
The bible does not prescribe the number of elders that should serve in a church but there is good biblical evidence to suggest that there is great benefit to a plurality-of-elders model. The size of the church and the number of qualified men are major factors in determining how many elders a church needs. As managing the church becomes more difficult due to size, the congregation should select for themselves additional elders to help carry the load of oversight.
When numerous elders serve together, ministerial responsibilities should be assigned to provide comprehensive oversight of the church’s functions. Elders will work distinctly, yet cooperatively, to serve and lead the church. While one elder may fill the capacity as the primary preacher/teacher, each elder should be ready to assist in this responsibility as it pervades all areas of church-work.
Because the primary responsibilities of elders are preaching/teaching, pastoring, and management, the scriptures provide qualifications and responsibilities for another office in the church: the deacon. Deacons exist for tending to important matters within the church that lie outside the responsibilities of elders. Acts 6 present the initial development of this office in the context of food distribution; an issue that was pulling the apostles away from their primary ministry of preaching and prayer. Though the responsibilities of deacons are slightly vague in scripture, it seems to be a support role to elders in the church.
1 Timothy 3:8-13 lists the qualifications for deacons. These are very similar to the qualifications above for pastors, except the ability to teach and manage the church are omitted. Also, there is good reason to suggest that these scriptures, and others, permit women to fulfil this office. Since this role is one of service, and not one of authority in the church, there are no theological reasons for denying their involvement in this ministry role.
As with elders, deacons should be selected by the congregation after careful evaluation of their ministerial qualifications. The number of deacons is not prescribed in scripture and should be fitting for the needs of the church. Since deacons work to free-up pastors for their ministerial responsibilities, it suffices to say that the number of active deacons should fluctuate based on the number of elders whom they are assisting. This is not a one-to-one ratio, or any other set number, but as the church grows and as needs arise in the congregation, it becomes vital that the number of deacons can handle the task.
Terms of elders and deacons are not discussed in the Bible. What is said about these roles seems to indicate that it is a long-term appointment. While an officer can become disqualified on the basis of immorality and unrighteous living, and therefore, removed from office, there are no other reasons in scripture for removing someone from their appointed office. It may be beneficial to limit an officer’s responsibilities temporarily for the purpose of revitalization, rest, travel, physical/mental/emotional recovery, and a host of other circumstantial reasons. In the case that a deacon or elder needs this season of relief, they should not be considered disqualified or “retired” but temporarily inactive.
The relationship between the congregation and the officers are laid out in scripture. As has been stated, the entire congregation is responsible for selecting these servants since they minister to, and on behalf of, the whole body. How the body selects the appropriate pastors and deacons will vary from congregation to congregation but it will in some way seek the participation of the entire membership in the full process of finding, examining, and calling/appointing the individual.
Specifically with elders, an issue of authority arises out of the above process. Since the church has authority over who their elders are, and since the elders are servants of the church, it seems natural to assume that the authority elders wield in leadership, management, and teaching/preaching is diminished in a congregational model. Though the Bible fully supports the appointment of elders by the congregation, it goes on to teach submission of that congregation to the leadership of the same appointed elder. The authority of the congregation is over who, but once that decision has been reached, the church should follow the leadership, trusting that God has set apart these individuals for the task of overseeing the body. This should not be interpreted as ultimate authority however. The church is also biblically held accountable for accepting only sound doctrine. Any in the congregation, including the pastor, advancing unorthodox teachings are subject to church discipline, which is a church-wide rejection of the teaching and the culprit.
The congregation is responsible for who and what in the broad since of biblical parameters. However, when elders operate within the sanctions of biblical orthodoxy, the congregation should submit to the teaching/preaching, leadership, and management of the overseer. The how of ministry is primarily the responsibility of the elders, with the assistance of the deacons, and should become authoritatively received by the members of the congregation.
Furthermore, the congregation should embrace the ministerial direction prescribed by the leadership and utilize their God-given gifts to carry out the mission of the local church. Paul describes the cooperative ministry of all believers in the context of a unified body. Each individual acts as a part of the body and brings an important function for building up the church of God. The responsibility of elder is the outworking of God’s gift of teaching and leadership, while deacons demonstrate the gifting of service. Though other members may not serve within a labeled “office,” all members fulfill the priestly duty of communicating the grace of God to the lost world and building up the faith of those within the Christian community.
In summary, though scripture is vague on church polity, the congregational structure is arguably the best model for ecclesiological governance. In almost every biblical context, the people of the church were involved in major decisions, even when Apostles and elders were primary leaders. The people of the church are responsible for keeping the church pure through deciding who comes in and who goes out. However, how they fulfill their ministry corporately, what portions of scripture are taught each week, administration of church calendars, implementation of programs, and a host of other day to day ministerial elements, should solely lie under the authority of the elders. As elders, deacons, and the entire congregation operate within their given roles, the church experiences unity that exemplifies the idea of “the body.”