Baptists > Issues > Who's In Charge Here?
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The Pastor?
or
The Board of Deacons?
   Who is in charge of leading God's church?
   Is it the pastor or does that task fall to the board of deacons?
   Dr. Lee Roberson (Highland Park Baptist Church, Chattanooga, TN) is often quoted to have said, "Everything rises and falls on leadership."  That statement could not be more appropriate when determining the answers to these questions.
   Obviously, the Word of God places great importance on both offices of the church.  The pastor.  First Timothy 3:1-13 spells out the qualifications for both.  Just as this portion of Scripture indicates that a pastor "must be" all that God demands of him, the deacons are to "likewise" emulate the same characteristics while also fulfilling even more qualifications.  In fact, the wives of deacons (not pastors) are instructed to avoid very specific behaviors.
   Therefore, are we to conclude that, since the deacons are so much the more required to be qualified men of God along with their wives, they are then to be given greater authority regarding the business of the church?
   Nothing could be further from Biblical truth.
   In fact, the opposite is true.  The Scriptures spend more time qualifying deacons because those who fulfill this office are to consider themselves as servants.  The Greek word is "diakonos" (dee-ak'-on-os) literally means "one who serves others."  In fact, the root word, "diako" means "one who runs errands."  The office of deacon is one of being a servant to all from the pastor to the members of the church.  Therefore, the only possible conclusion regarding the obvious need of Scripture to spell out the importance of true spirituality amongst those who would be deacons, as well as their wives, is that of their needing to realize that they are not to ursurp the pastoral authority.  Consequently, the concept of a deacon board who has been given authority over the church is absolutely unscriptural.
   Conversely, the Greek word for pastor is "poimen" which literally means "he who is a shepherd."  Ephesians 4:11 uses this term to describe one who gives spiritual guidance and counsel.  The pastor leads God's flock/church.  They have the greater responsibility.
   Those who defend deacon authority only have to look at those churches who have given into this false concept.  For example, The Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA) is known for their commitment to board run churches.  This group is also a fellowship of small churches with few exceptions (the exceptions occur when certain pastors are given free reign to lead the church as they should).  Furthermore, Baptist churches who allow deacon boards to control the business of the church are usually smaller congregations.  Their view of congregational government has been taken to the extreme.  Therefore, the evidence indicates that board run churches lack pastoral vision, authority, and leadership, thus, resulting in limitations that hinder both spiritual and numerical church growth.
   The bottom line is that pastor's are called by God, whereas, deacons are appointed by the local church.  Pastors are given visions for the growth and development of a congregation just as a shepherd takes care of a flock of sheep.  What possible sense is there in claiming that any church is to be a dynamic and effective soul winning ministry bent on ongoing growth, while making an impact in the community, and then setting up its organization to contradict these goals?  Deacons are to work as servants to assist the shepherd in the fulfilling of that vision.  There is nothing more beautiful in a congregation than a group of deacons who humbly serve God's people under the leadership of a pastor who is driven by a vision from and for God.
   Key families are not to run God's church.
   Charter members are not to run God's church.
   Deacon boards are not to run God's church.
   None of these are to run God's man, either.
   God calls a man.  That man fulfills the function of the bishop/pastor.  As long as he remains Scripturally qualified, it is he whom God will provide the vision and leadership to lead the house of God.  Only when he violates clear Biblical qualifications is he to be disqualified.  Otherwise, once called by God and any local church, his leadership authority is to be respected, followed, and never challenged.
   "And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless."  ~ 1st Timothy 3:10 
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