In the sports world, there are no perfect teams. Every roster has a weak link.

Everyone loves to see a coach transform a group of athletes into a team of winners. That’s part of the fascination with sports.

Likewise, there are no perfect churches. Yet, in God’s wisdom, He has chosen to accomplish Kingdom work through his Church. Using the imperfect to accomplish divine plans displays God’s majesty.

God’s design for His Church includes two offices: Pastor (aka “Elder,” or “Bishop”) and deacon. The simplicity of the structure is brilliant.

The Pastor/Elder/Bishop role is a role of leadership. All three words (Pastor, Elder, Bishop) are used interchangeably to describe the same role (2 Peter 5:2). The word “pastor” emphasizes shepherding, the word “elder” emphasizes maturity, and the word “bishop” emphasizes oversight.

The leadership of the pastor/elder/bishop is not the final authority. In fact, this role is a stewardship position in which the pastor/elder/bishop represents the interest of Christ, the “Chief Shepherd” (I Peter 5:4). That is why the Scriptural qualifications for the role of pastor call for a man of humility and discipline (I Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9). His leadership must always be in the best interest of the Kingdom and the congregation. What an opportunity to display Christ-like servant leadership!

The role of deacon is of equal importance to the role of pastor. The word “deacon” means “servant.” However, don’t mistake “servant” to mean “inferior.” We are one body with many parts (I Corinthians 12:20) and the Bible speaks very highly of the one who chooses to serve (Matthew 23:11-12).

The “servant” title does not mean that the deacons are the only people doing acts of service within the church. Every member should be involved in serving each other (I Peter 4:10). The deacons lead and coordinate the service efforts.

As with pastors, scripture provides a list of qualifications for deacons (I Timothy 3:8-13). The main difference between pastor and deacon qualifications is the pastor’s requirement to be apt to teach. Of course, this does not mean a deacon is disqualified if he has the ability to teach.

Both roles (pastor and deacon) are pictures of Christ! And when these two roles work together under Christ’s divine plan for the church, the results can be game-changing!

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