There are two offices in the Presbyterian Church in America (our denomination) to which candidates may be nominated and elected: namely, elders and deacons. The elders are responsible for the government and spiritual oversight of the church, including teaching. Only those elders who are gifted and called by God to preach, who are also seminary trained as well as approved and ordained by a PCA presbytery, may serve as “teaching elders.” Those elected by churches to aid in the governance and leadership of the church are called “ruling elders.” Deacons serve the spiritual and physical needs of the people, as well as oversee the maintenance of all church property. In accordance with Scripture, these offices are open to qualified men only (see 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1).
Each officer (elder or deacon) at NSF serves for a three-year term and then automatically rotates off for a year of inactive service. Having rotated off, an officer may then be re-nominated and go back through training and then be re-elected to serve another three-year term following his year of inactive service.
The elders accept nominations for the office of Deacon and Elder for 2 weeks in the spring of each year.
The process or procedure for the election of officers includes a series of steps: Nomination, Qualification, Examination, and finally Election. Anyone wishing to make a nomination for office and those accepting nominations, please read about each step.
In the spring of each year, the congregation is notified that the nomination season has begun. The congregation is encouraged to prayerfully to review the qualifications for office as set forth in Scripture (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1) and then make their nominations using the form(s) made available by the session. The qualifications and vows are also summarized in our Book of Church Order, chapters 8 & 9.
If there is a man who clearly exhibits these qualifications, that person should be approached by the member and personally asked whether he would be willing to be placed in nomination for that respective office. Any member of the congregation may submit a name for nomination to the office of Elder or Deacon.
Ordinarily, a man must be a member of NSF in good standing for at least one year and a regular member of an NSF small group before he can be nominated to office (exceptions to this requirement can be made only by a unanimous vote of Session).
A form is made available for the purpose of formally introducing a name into nomination. Men who have previously served as officers may also be nominated.
The session then serves as a nominating committee. The nominating committee’s primary work is to prayerfully review the names submitted by the congregation with a view toward the formation of a slate of nominees who, in the opinion of the nominating committee, meet the biblical qualifications found in I Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9, and I Peter 5:1-4. Those who may be viewed as leaders in other walks of life may or may not meet the biblical qualifications of a church officer. The committee must also consider the needs of the congregation and the duties of officers as outlined in the PCA Book of Church Order.
After the committee makes a list of potential nominees, one of the pastors will talk to the individuals nominated to ask that they prayerfully consider if they are willing to serve and if they believe that God is calling them to serve.
There will be an extended time of training that will focus on the character, maturity, knowledge, and skills necessary to fulfill this calling. During this period of time a nominee may find it necessary to disqualify himself for office due to doctrinal or practical considerations. Being nominated for office is no guarantee of election and it is no shame to recognize you are not called to serve as an officer. We each have our own unique and important role in the body of Christ.
The final stage includes exams that cover both doctrinal and practical considerations.
A slate of nominees approved to stand for election will be made public to the congregation. The exact timing depends on the ability to coordinate the nominees’ schedules to accomplish the officer training and be examined.
A congregational meeting will then be called for the purpose of the electing the officers. A simple majority elects officers.
Soon after the election a service of ordination and installation will be held for new officers.
Please join us in prayer for this whole process as the church officers are the Lord’s instruments for guiding and directing His people in this particular congregation. Do not hesitate to contact any member of the Session if you have any questions.
Sincerely yours in His service,
The Session of North Shore Fellowship (PCA)
Qualifications for Overseers:
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, soberminded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
Qualifications for Deacons:
Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but soberminded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
Qualifications for Elders:
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
DEFINITION AND QUALIFICATIONS FOR ELDERS AND DEACONS FROM THE BOOK OF CHURCH ORDER:
Chapter 8: The Elder 8-1. This office is one of dignity and usefulness. The man who fills it has in Scripture different titles expressive of his various duties. As he has the oversight of the flock of Christ, he is termed bishop or pastor. As it is his duty to be grave and prudent, an example to the flock, and to govern well in the house and Kingdom of Christ, he is termed presbyter or elder. As he expounds the Word, and by sound doctrine both exhorts and convinces the gainsayer, he is termed teacher. These titles do not indicate different grades of office, but all describe one and the same office.
8-2. He that fills this office should possess a competency of human learning and be blameless in life, sound in the faith and apt to teach. He should exhibit a sobriety and holiness of life becoming the Gospel. He should rule his own house well and should have a good report of them that are outside the church.
8-3. It belongs to the office of elder, both severally and jointly, to watch diligently over
the flock committed to their charge, that no corruption of doctrine or of morals enter therein. They must exercise government and discipline, and take oversight not only of the spiritual interests of the particular church, but also the church generally when called thereunto. They should visit the people at their homes, especially the sick. They should instruct the ignorant, comfort the mourner, nourish and guard the children of the church. They should set a worthy example to the flock entrusted to their care by their zeal to evangelize the unconverted and make disciples. All those duties which private Christians are bound to discharge by the law of love are especially incumbent upon them by divine vocation, and are to be discharged as official duties. They should pray with and for the people, being careful and diligent in seeking the fruit of the preached Word among the flock.
Chapter 9: The Deacon 9-1. The office of deacon is set forth in the Scriptures as ordinary and perpetual in the Church. The office is one of sympathy and service, after the example of the Lord Jesus; it expresses also the communion of the saints, especially in their helping one another in time of need.
9-2. It is the duty of the deacons to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the
friendless, and to any who may be in distress. It is their duty also to develop the grace of liberality in the members of the church, to devise effective methods of collecting the gifts of the people, and to distribute these gifts among the objects to which they are contributed. They shall have the care of the property of the congregation, both real and personal and shall keep in proper repair the church edifice and other buildings belonging to the congregation. In matters of special importance affecting the property of the church, they cannot take final action without the approval of the Session and the consent of the
congregation. In the discharge of their duties the deacons are under the supervision and authority of the Session. In a church in which it is impossible for any reason to secure deacons, the duties of the office shall devolve upon the ruling elders.
9-3. To the office of deacon, which is spiritual in nature, shall be chosen men of spiritual character, honest repute, exemplary lives, brotherly spirit, warm sympathies, and sound judgment.
These paragraphs represent a summary of the Biblical qualifications outlined in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3.
You will also want to be reasonably sure that the nominee subscribes to the standards of the PCA as contained in the Westminster Standards (Confession and Catechisms). The vows for ordination and installation require such agreement with these standards. The vows for church membership only require an understanding and affirmation of the need for Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and an agreement to serve the church and submit to the leadership.
Here are the affirmations all officers must make:
(1) Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as originally given, to be the inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
(2) Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures; and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you will, on your own initiative, make known to your Session the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?
(3) Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in America, in conformity with the general principles of Biblical polity?
(4) Do you accept the office of Ruling Elder (or Deacon, as the case may be) in the church, and promise faithfully to perform the duties thereof, and to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your life, and to set a worthy example before the church of which God has made you an officer?
(5) Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
(6) Do you promise to strive for the purity, peace, unity and edification of the church?