When the message of Jesus began to spread across the roman empire and new communities of disciples were birthed – these communities were very small. In most cases, the early churches were small enough to meet in homes.
Both Peter and Paul, the earliest missionaries who helped to see these churches birthed, felt the need to appoint leaders to oversee these communities. In spite of the slim pickings for leaders, they both established high requirements for church leadership. These qualifications can be found in the following passages of the New Testament: 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4.
I have attempted to articulate these qualifications in a way that is true to the original text and reflect modern language. I hope you find it helpful as you establish leaders in your local church.
leader – A person who oversees people or a task that advances the mission of the community.
commitment – There is evidence of authentic commitment to following Jesus first in baptism, character, and conduct. There is also commitment to the mission, vision, and convictions of the church community.
character – There is evidence of growing character evidenced in the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control). This manifests in generosity, modesty, sobriety, integrity, and stewardship of time, talent, treasure.
conduct – There is evidence of healthy life-giving relationships. God honouring marital relationships and a complementary spouse. Children who are growing picture of faith in God becoming who they see their parents to be. Church relationships that are non-controversial and promote unity. A good reputation with those in the local community.
capacity – There is evidence of order and ability to lead one’s personal life and teach and reproduce in others the same. There is evidence of the ability to manage responsibility congruent with one’s current character and level of skill.
accountability – All efforts should be made to gracefully and humbly confront habitual unrepentant behaviour using the Matthew 18 model of restoration. We call people to a better way of living personally, then with another leader. In cases where unchanged behaviour continues overseers are compelled to remove ministry personnel for a time of reflection and a process of restoration.