Nominating Church Leaders

Our Church is two years old and it’s time for us to raise up some leaders!

As Epiphany grows up and grows healthy, it must nominate, train and ordain it’s own leaders, biblically known as Elders, Deacons and Deaconnesses. These biblical offices, also known as ministers of the gospel, are honored and given to those who serve well, are called by God, gifted and are worthy of being imitated in their personal and family lives.

Take time to fast & pray about it!

If you are a member of Epiphany Church over 16 you can nominate someone to the office of Elder, Deacon and Deaconess, which is a big deal. We would encourage you to take this high responsbility of nominating Godly leaders as seriously as possible. This is a time to fast and pray, and consider how God has used others to impact your life and who may be fit to the honor of leading His Church in Gloucester City.

Elders (Pastors)

In the New Testament the office of Elders, Presbyters, or Bishop is the same thing. The sacred calling of Elders is to lead the Church, with the primary picture of that leading in the bible being a shepherd amoung the sheep. Shepherds feed, protect, guide and care for their flock. At our Church we believe this role is biblically restricted to men. To read more of our persepective on this check out this article. We do not hold this perspective as ‘essential to the faith’ and you don’t have to agree with the Church to be a member.

Those Elders who spend a greater portion of their ministry preaching are also Elders but may do it vocationally or bi-vocationally. (We often call paid Elders who preach, Pastors) However, most Elders will have regular jobs, but will be Christians who are responsible for the Church and live a life that is an example, filled with the Spirit, and full of grace and love. In our Church an Elder (paid or not) is fully ordained, can perform marraiges, officiate funerals and give Holy Communion and baptize new converts to the faith.

When considering who should be an Elder, the question isn’t who is perfect! Good questions to ask would be…

  • Who inspires me to be a better Christian by the example of their life?
  • Who is faithful to their wives?
  • Who seems to have a gift to help me understand the scriptures?
  • Who do I think of, as having a good reputation?
  • Who do I think of as treating their family well, and earning their children’s love and respect.
  • Who can I run to and ask for prayer from and know that they are going to pray effectively for me.
  • Who do I know that isn’t ruled by addictions like the love of money, drugs or alcohol and who isn’t a hot head?

Deacons & Deaconess

The words Deacon (men) & Deaconess (women) simply come from the greek word “servant”. But because of who Jesus was, and what he taught there is now a high honor to hold that name within the Church. While Elders serve the Church by leading in prayer, preaching and guiding the general vision of the Church, Deacons & Deaconesses are men and women of character who lead by serving.

The first deacons were ordained in Acts 6 after the early Churches meal distrubtion to it’s widows was tainted with incompetence, opening the door to racism. While Elder’s are like the lungs of the body, making sure that the whole body has life giving oxygen and stays on mission, to seek and save the lost and make disciples of Jesus, fullfiling the great commision. (Matthew 28:16-20)

Deacon(ess)s are like the heart of the body, pumping blood to every part, keeping it healthy, and making sure that Church obeys the great commandment. (Matthew 22:36-40) We can not sacrifice love for the sake of growth, just as our growth must be motivated by love and nothing else!

Just as with Elders you won’t find perfect Deacon(ess) candidates, but you should ask these helpful questions.

  • Who inspires me to be a better Christian by the example of their life?
  • Who is faithful to their spouses, or if single is celebate?
  • Who do I think of, as having a good reputation?
  • Who do I think of as treating their family well, and earning their children’s love and respect.
  • Who do I know that isn’t ruled by addictions like the love of money, drugs or alcohol and who isn’t a hot head?
  • Who is serving well, and is just really gifted to serve in that way for the Church. (From keeping the budget, to taking care of the building, to running ministries to serve those in need.)

Requirements for all nominees.

All nominees at Epiphany Church must have been a Christian for at least a year, and be a member of our Church. They also must have more than one nomination. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:5-9 lay out the biblical requiremets for those who hold the office of Elder, Deacon and Deaconess. To be nominated, they may not live up to all those biblical ideals yet, but they are on their way, and will need to attain those qualities before they are ordained.

Journey to ordination.

Once nominated they will be asked to have two personal reference forms, and a third from their spouse if married. They will be initially interviewed by the Pastor and will study the calling, character, and work of ministry.

If the nominee then accepts, and they are accepted, they will then enter into a minimum one year training process, using a personalized learning plan based on their strengths and weaknesses. Once they have finished this training, they will be tested by a counsel of other Church officers (this test will vary depending on what role they are being ordained for, with the most extensive examination reserved for Elders who will be serving in vocational (paid) ministry, with a responsiblity to preach) These Church officers will be from sisters Churches in our region, and if endorsed by that counsel of other ministers, the members of Epiphany Church will confirm their ordination by a congregational vote and finally they will will be ordained by the laying on of hands from others ministers in our public worship gathering, and we will throw a huge party after!

As our Church turns two years old we are now opening up nominations to those who have served well, growing and have the potential to lead! This first ‘school’ of leaders will set the tone for the Church for years to come. Currently, Pastor Joe Marlin is our only functioning Elder, and Dylan Lebakken is our only minister in training, who Lord willing will be ordained to the Gospel ministry as a Pastor after he finishes his Master’s of Divinity.

Nominate someone right here for Elder, Deacon or Deaconess!

A final word to those who may be nominated.

It is very healthy for the Church to give honor where it is do, so be encouraged that someone sees God working in your life! With that being said, let your service to the Church, your life, and your love for God continue to grow, regardless of titles or the recognition of others! The one who has the heart of a true pastor, and true deacon doesn’t wait to be reckongized to step up.

If you do accept the nomination, be prepared for a very intense season of training. You will be reading a lot, meeting more, and you will be working on difficult areas of your life. In other words you will be exposed, and whether that be your finances, your marraige, your personal devotional life or your ability to teach others or share the gospel. There will not only be information to learn, but measureable, real progess in your life that we will be looking for. While all followers of Christ ought to be hungry to grow, and get better, know that you are compeletely free to say “not at this time in my life’ to the intense training. That itself is sometimes the move of someone who is wise, and understands their season of life and limitations.

Let me leave you with the words of the Apostles Peter from 1 Peter 5:1-5.

I exhort the elders among you as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory about to be revealed:  Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but willingly, as God would have you; not out of greed for money but eagerly;  not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.  In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because

God resists the proud
but gives grace to the humble.