At La Plata Baptist Church, we understand the Bible to establish two formal church offices: Elder and Deacon. Scripture lays out clear requirements for both positions (see 1 Tim. 3 v 1-3 and Titus 1 v 6-9), and we understand those filling these positions to be gifts of God to His church.
Elders are charged with spiritual oversight over the church (Acts 20 v 28), shepherding the church through the ministry of the word and prayer (1 Pet. 5 v 2, Acts 6 v 4), and keeping watch over the church as those who will give an account to God (Heb. 13 v 17). We also understand the Bible to establish a plurality of elders in a local church (Acts 14 v 23, James, 5 v 14).
Deacons are tasked with leadership of various practical, service-oriented ministries within the church (Acts 6 v 1-6). Deacons have primary responsibility in recruiting and managing volunteers of various church ministries. In doing so, deacons bless the entire church, and free the elders to focus on the ministry of the word and prayer.
1 Timothy 3 v 1-13
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife,temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested;and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.