Leadership Definitions at Calvary


In the New Testament Scriptures, the leaders of the local church are variously called elders, pastors, and overseers. The words are used interchangeably in Scripture (see Acts 20:25-32; 1 Peter 5:1-2) to show that the leadership of the church should be a single-layer structure of godly men, accountable to each other, the Scriptures, and, of course, ultimately to God. Together this "multitude of counselors" (Proverbs 24:6) shepherd the flock of God, spiritually and practically.

This means that elders are pastors and pastors are elders, though some are paid for their time given to the church and some are not (1 Timothy 5:17); some are freed up from external jobs, able to devote full-time work to the ministry, and some juggle full-time jobs with their shepherding responsibilities. Some elder-pastors will serve in more prominent roles (such as the teaching ministry), while others will serve less in less visible areas. With a variety of gifts, each elder offers a unique contribution to his specific area of ministry. Regardless of each elder's role and prominence, the New Testament models a plurality of equal leaders.
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” (Col 1:16-18 ESV)
“I saw that the ministry of eldership is not at all about this earthen vessel,
but about the greatness of God, about his mercy, his gospel, his glory, his power!”

     -John Piper, from a seminar titled, “Biblical Eldership Part 1a shepherd the flock of God among you”



In the New Testament Scriptures, there are two offices in the local church: pastors (or elders) and deacons. The deacon is a "servant" office (this is what the Greek word "deacon" means, and what we see in Acts 6 with the first deacons). However, it is also a managerial office: deacons lead others in an area of service. In Acts 6:3 "the seven" (deacons) were put "in charge" of a task. The seven of Acts 6:3 may have helped to manage around three thousand in the church at that time. In Acts 6 we see areas that require some form of leadership, such as problem-solving and peace-making, related to an area that starts in the material realm (in this case, taking care of the needs of widows). Again, deacons give attention to more practical needs of the body. This frees up elders for prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4). Examples from the New Testament of Deacon’s ministry include: handling "complaints" (Acts 6:1), Stephen preaches (Acts 7), Philip preaches (Acts 8), and deacons "hold fast the mystery of the faith" (1 Timothy 3:9).