How to Separate Deacon Work from Elder Work

By Matt Schmucker | 9Marks Journal: Deacons | 04.28.2010

Whether between the pastors and the congregation or within the church’s leadership, division causes Christ’s church to suffer.

Moving from a Deacon-Led to an Elder-Led Church

By Phil Newton | 9Marks Journal: Deacons | 03.31.2010

Rather than a healthy, robust congregationalism, this church practiced congregational micromanagement.

Do We Need To Use the Titles “Elder” and “Deacon”?

By Benjamin Merkle | 9Marks Journal: Deacons | 03.31.2010

There are no biblical qualifications for trustees, council members, “leadership teams,” or other titles of our devising.

The Biblical Qualifications and Responsibilities of Deacons

By Benjamin Merkle | 9Marks Journal: Deacons | 03.31.2010

The main difference between an elder and a deacon is a difference of gifts and calling, not character.

Should elders be ordained?


The answer depends on what’s meant by “ordain.”

Should elders have terms or serve for life?


The Bible is silent on this issue, which means that wisdom and a prudent application of broader biblical principles must guide our decision.

How should elders be selected?


Nowhere does the Bible give precise instructions concerning how churches should select elders. Yet there are biblical principles and patterns that should inform how churches go about this process:

How many elders should each congregation have?

Nowhere does the Bible identify a specific number of elders that should lead each local congregation. Therefore, churches are left to godly wisdom and prudence to help determine how many men God has called to lead them.

What are the advantages of having a plurality of elders?

Biblical accountability. Godly fellow elders are a great means for holding the pastor accountable to live, teach, and lead faithfully. In addition, sharing authority among a number of men can keep one man from wrongly lording it over the congregation Wisdom. There is more wisdom to be found in a multitude of counselors (Prov. 11:14; 24:6).

Can women be pastors or elders?


In order to answer this hotly contested question we need to make sure a few biblical pieces are in place.

Should elders and deacons be trained? If so, how?

Principle 1: Churches should not give the responsibility of eldering to those who are not already eldering. Rather, they should nominate men who meet the biblical qualifications and are already doing the work. Nothing magical happens when a church calls a man to elder. Rather, it simply recognizes publicly what he already is.

What should the elders do when they gather?

Pray for and care for one another. Pray for and discuss the spiritual state of every church member by name according to some system. This will ensure that the elders are caring for all the flock, as the apostle Paul commands (Acts 20:28).

Does the New Testament pattern of a plurality of elders in every church preclude the position of senior pastor?


In the New Testament, the normal pattern is for churches to have a plurality of elders (Acts 14:23; Phil. 1:1; Jas. 5:14). Does this mean that no single man among them should be called the “senior pastor” and possess a larger measure of relational and institutional authority?

What is the difference between church elders and church staff?


Many modern churches have tended to confuse elders with the church staff.

How do elders relate to “the pastor”?


Biblically speaking, all elders are pastors. Peter tells the elders among his readers to “shepherd” [Greek: pastor] the flock of God that is among you” (1 Pet. 5:2). Paul told the Ephesian elders to “care for” [Greek: pastor] the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). And the only time the noun “pastor” is used in the New Testament there is no indication that it is a different office from elder (Eph. 4:11).