- The elders are collectively responsible to oversee the following:
- Ruling/shepherding (1 Pet. 5:1-2).
- Equipping (Eph. 4:11-12).
- Prayer/fasting (Acts 6:4; 13:1-3).
- Teaching/preaching (1 Tim. 5:17).
- Administering baptism and the Lord’s Table (Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).
- Administering church discipline and restoration (1 Cor. 5:1-5).
- Prayer for the healing of the sick (Jas. 5:14-15).
- Delegating responsibilities to the deacons, hiring and firing church staff, defining the responsibilities of church staff, and delegating responsibilities to the staff of subordinate ministries. The elders will approve the annual budget.
- Commissioning or licensing ministerial students, and overseeing the course of their training for the eldership. Under the guidance and oversight of the board of elders, such commissioned individuals will have the opportunity to perform all the various ministerial functions of elders, participation in the rule of the church being the only exception.
- Conduct of Elders’ Meetings: All usual business of the elders will be conducted at their regular meetings or at special meetings called for a particular purpose. The elders will appoint one of their number to moderate the meetings of the elders, and one to record the minutes of the meetings.
- Responsibilities of Individual Elders: Elders are responsible for those duties delegated to them by the body of elders, and recorded in the minutes, with due regard to their gifts and desires. Elders with such a charge will serve willingly, and without domineering in the discharge of their assigned duties, whether pastoral or administrative (1 Peter 5:1-3). There is no distinction of rank within the body of elders.Under Christ, the highest authority in the local church is the board of elders or presbyters in Session. While all the elders are equally involved in ruling the church, some presbyters are to be recognized by the church as also given to the labor of word and doctrine. As elders, all share the same rank and authority without distinction. Nevertheless, the church acknowledges the variety of gifts and callings God gives to men, and recognizes that some of the elders, though equal in rank and authority, are especially gifted and called to preach the Word, and to teach right doctrine (1 Tim. 5:17-18).Our church therefore recognizes three distinct callings or offices related to the Session of elders for this local church. The first is called to a pastoral ministry of the Word, and called by us a teaching elder, minister, or pastor (Eph. 4:11-12; 1 Pet. 5:2-4). A second is called to a didactic ministry of the Word, called by us a teacher or doctor (1 Cor. 12:28; James 3:1). A third is called to government and rule according to the Word, called by us a ruler or ruling elder (1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:7,17; Rom. 12:8; 1 Cor. 12:28). The names used for these callings are descriptive only, not titular or honorific (Matt. 23:8-10).The ruling elders principally function in the government of the church. The teachers share this rule, and are also responsible for teaching and instruction from the Word. The ministers also share in the rule of the church, and in addition are principally responsible for the proclamation of the Word on the Lord’s Day, as well as the general oversight of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Each elder will have his calling and office acknowledged by the elders in Session.In all meetings of the Session of presbyters, each elder has one vote. The meetings of the Session will be moderated by an elder selected by the other elders. In their capacity as a Session, the elders oversee all the affairs of the church, including the particular labors of teachers and ministers.
- Compensation: Those elders whose assigned duties preclude them from providing for their families in the ordinary way must be compensated by the church (1 Tim. 5:17-18).
- Responsibilities of Deacons: Under the general oversight of the elders, the deacons will manage the financial, physical, social, and benevolent functions of the church (Acts 6:2-4). Such responsibilities include preparing and administering the annual budget, building maintenance, fellowship meals, administration of subordinate ministries, office support, and administering the Deacons’ Fund.
- Conduct of Deacons’ Meetings: All usual business of the deacons will be conducted at their regular meeting, or at a special meeting called for a particular purpose. The deacons will appoint one of their number to moderate the meetings of the deacons. The deacons will be prepared to give a general report of their work at each Heads of Households meeting, they will provide a quarterly financial report to the church, and they will give an annual report to the elders with proposals for the upcoming year.
- Responsibilities of Individual Deacons: Individual deacons are responsible for those duties assigned to them by the deacons, as recorded in the minutes, with due regard to their gifts and desires. There is no distinction of rank among the deacons.
- Administering the Deacons’ Fund:
- In the benevolent functions of the church, the deacons are responsible to maintain the biblical standards of money, charity, work, and related issues (Gal. 6:10; 2 Thes. 3:4-16; Eph. 4:28; 1 Tim. 5:3-4, 8; Is. 10:1-4).
- The Deacons’ Fund is available to members of Christ Church to meet pressing needs. When a need is made known through the elders, deacons, or members of the church, the deacons will examine the scope and urgency of the need and present it to the elders. Upon approval by the elders, the family or individual will be placed on the Deacons’ Fund until the need is met or they are removed for other reasons.
- Upon being placed on the list for the Deacons’ Fund, the head of the household will be asked to submit an acceptable household budget to the deacons within thirty days. A deacon or elder will be assigned to review the family budget, determine the actual level of need, and give counsel and financial advice as necessary.
- If able, the head of the household is required to work at a full-time job.
- The household will be discouraged from receiving public assistance in the form of food stamps or direct welfare payments, not including medical reimbursements or assistance.
- In case of one-time needs exceeding $1000, the deacons will seek elder approval for the expenditure at the next regular elder meeting. If the need cannot be met from the Deacons’ Fund, the deacons may seek elder approval to move funds from general savings to meet the need. A household budget will not be required for one-time needs paid in full from the Deacons’ Fund. However, a budget will be requested by the deacons if the family stays on the list for the Deacons’ Fund after that particular need is met. In case of one-time needs, the deacons may, with elder approval, assist families who are in need but who are not members of Christ Church. These families are not eligible to stay on the list for the Deacons’ Fund after that particular need is met. Non-members may not receive regular assistance from the Deacons’ Fund.
- Families supported by the Deacons’ Fund will be visited by a deacon at least once a month to ensure their financial needs are being met. Budget counseling will be provided by the deacons when necessary. If there are spiritual matters which need attention, the deacons will notify the elders. The deacons will report regularly to the elders on the status of families remaining on the list for the Deacons’ Fund more than three months.
- Indigent giving will be decided by the deacons on a case-by-case basis. As a general rule the deacons will not disburse money to indigents, but will purchase items necessary to meet basic needs in such areas as food, clothing, shelter, and travel.
- Christian Education Fund:
- The Christian Education Fund is a special category of the Deacons’ Fund. Monies from the fund will be available to help qualified families with expenses associated with providing a biblical education for their dependent children, whether for homeschooling, tutorial services, or a private Christian school. The fund will be supplied as an item in the annual budget and through designated gifts.
- In ordinary situations, the family concerned will be asked to show its commitment to Christian education through providing as much for their children’s’ education as their budget will allow. In extraordinary situations, the entire cost may be borne by the fund.
- Whenever possible, payments will be made directly to the school, tutorial service , textbook supplier, etc.
- Recipients of the Christian Education Fund must qualify fully for the Deacons’ Fund.
- In addition to Deacons’ Fund criteria, the following standards also apply. The elders must have reason to believe that, due to personal or financial constraints, the children are likely to receive non-Christian or sub-standard Christian education. The family will receive consistent pastoral counseling for the duration of support from the fund, consistent with the circumstances. The deacons will verify that the fund is not being used to pay tuition in such a way as to receive a tax write-off.
- Recipients must be re-approved in July for the following school year. After a family has received support for one school year, the deacons will assign a member to review the family’s household budget and help them set up a plan to assume the entire cost of their children’s’ education.
C. Resignation of Elders or Deacons
If an elder or deacon desires to resign his office or take a leave of absence, he will present a letter expressing this desire and explaining his reasons to the board of elders. The elders will notify the men of the church at the next monthly household meeting of their receipt of the letter. If the desire of the elder or deacon concerned is unchanged by the following monthly household meeting, then the elders will read a statement to the assembled men accepting the resignation, or approving the leave of absence.
If the resignation is sought for reasons of moral or doctrinal turpitude, then the elders must exercise biblical discipline prior to, or in conjunction with, any consideration of the letter of resignation.
Constitution Series Table of Contents
- Constitution – Preamble
- Constitution Chapter 1 - Members and Electors
- Constitution Chapter 2 – Selection of Elders and Deacons
- Constitution Chapter 3 – Duties of Church Officers
- Constitution Chapter 4 – Removal of Elders and Deacons
- Constitution Chapter 5A – Discipline (Informal Church Discipline)
- Constitution Chapter 5B – Discipline (Formal Church Discipline)
- Constitution Chapter 5C – Discipline (Subjects of Church Discipline)
- Constitution Chapter 5D – Discipline (Procedures for Church Discipline)
- Constitution Chapter 5E – Discipline (Appeals to Presbytery)
- Constitution Chapter 5F – Discipline (Restoration of the Party Disciplined)
- Constitution Chapter 6 – Subordinate Ministries
- Constitution Chapter 7 – Incorporation
- Constitution Chapter 8 – Amendments