The Life & Character of the Officer
The EPC Book of Government wisely advises that before nominating a person to church office, the congregation should “carefully study appropriate passages of Scripture…and be very prayerful in selecting persons to this office.” This is necessary because God himself gives us the offices of minister, elder and deacon; and it is he who describes the qualifications for those who are to be chosen. Our task is not to select “the best people we have,” but rather to elect only those who fit God’s description given to us in the Scriptures.
Qualifications Or Attributes Of The Officer
From the Bible: 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 2 Timothy 2:24-25; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Titus 1:6-9; Ezra 7:9b-10:
Attributes of an officer should be already present. Focus should not be on personality but character – the fruit of godliness.
Candidate must commit to pursuit of Christ-like character and attributes required of an officer. Candidate must be an example.
Biblical Description of Christ-like Character Required for an Officer
Godliness: In 1 Timothy 3:1-7 we find 12 adjectives to describe the character requirements for leaders. The first character trait summarizes all the others: elders must be “above reproach.” This is not speaking of perfection, but rather of the direction of one’s life. Elders must not be marked by any kind of disgrace, as this would limit their influence and authority among the flock.
- Temperate, self-controlled, upright, holy, disciplined (Titus 1:7,8)
- Sincere (1 Tim 3:8)
- Not pursuing dishonest gain (1 Tim 3:8, Titus 1:7); not a lover of money (1 Tim 3:3)
- An example to the flock (1 Peter 5:3)
- Full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3,5)
- Desire to Serve – (1 Tim 3:1; 1 Peter 5:2) in humility (Acts 6:2)
- Love for others – hospitable, gentle, patient, not quarrelsome (1 Tim 3:2,3; Titus 1:7,8)
- Good reputation
- Above reproach (1 Tim 3:2)
- With good reputation among outsiders (1 Tim 3:7)
From the EPC Book of Government:
10-5: THE LIFE OF THE RULING ELDER: According to Scripture, those who bear this office should exhibit certain characteristics of life. This includes being blameless in life, sound in the faith, wise in the things of God, and discreet in all things. Persons who fill this office should exhibit a lifestyle that is an example to all, both in and outside the Church. A congregation preparing to elect persons to this holy office should carefully study appropriate passages of Scripture relating to the Ruling Elder and be very prayerful in selecting persons to this office.
10-8: THE LIFE OF THE DEACON: According to Scripture, those who bear this office should exhibit especially those spiritual qualities of the Christian, and should be earnest and wholehearted followers of Christ. They should be persons who are steady and reliable, well thought of by all. They should not be new in the faith and should be tested for faithfulness before election.
Please note, in addition to the above requirements, it is the policy of First Presbyterian Church that nominees must have been a member of the church for one year prior to serving.
First Presbyterian Church Officer Election Process
The goal of the election process is to ensure that as a a church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are diligent and discerning in identifying and ordaining those whom the Lord has called and equipped to the offices of elder and deacon.
- The congregation is invited to endorse active members in good standing for the offices of elder and deacon.
- All nominations will then be reviewed by the Session in light of the Biblical requirements for officers.
- Those who are approved by the Session will be required to attend an 8 week training and discernment session, followed by interviews with the Session.
- At the conclusion of this process, the final nominations will come before the congregation for a vote.