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Officers of the Church - Organize a Church - Part 2

The Pastor

1. The chief officer of the church is the pastor.
He is a man called of God to preach the gospel, who has first been licensed by his church to preach,
who, after he has proved his gifts as a preacher, has been ordained by his church to the ministry
and who, according to custom, has been called by the church to become its pastor.

2. As it has been said, the preacher ought to be called of God, or else he cannot hope to do the Lord's work very well.
When a brother announces to his church that he feels the call to the ministry, his church may license him
so that he may be free to exercise his gifts as a minister in order that he may prove his fitness to do so.
A simple motion properly made and seconded by the church conference to license a brother to preach
and duly adopted by the church in conference is all that is essential to licensing a brother to preach.
The clerk of the church may furnish the brother with a copy of the minutes as his credentials as a licensed preacher.

3. It is not customary, nor is it good practice to ordain a brother to the ministry, unless he has been called
by some church to be their pastor and that church has formally asked for his ordination.
He may be a member of the church to which he has been called as pastor, or of some other church.
If he is a member of the church asking for his ordination, is customary for that church to ask two
or more neighboring churches to send their pastors to act as representatives on a council or presbytery,
called for the purpose of examining the brother as to his fitness for the ministry, and if he is found fit,
to ordain him to that ministry.
If on the other hand the brother as a member of another church, the church to which he has been called
as pastor may ask the church of which he is a member for his ordination.
In this case it is customary for the church, by resolution or motion to authorize its pastor to assemble a council
or presbytery for the purpose of examining the brother as to his fitness for the ministry and, if found fit,
of ordaining him to that ministry.

4. The body authorized by the church to ordain ministers may be either a council or presbytery.
These two bodies are distinguished by the fact that a council is composed of both ordained ministers and layman,
while a presbytery is composed solely of ordained ministers.
Either body by the authority of the church has a perfect right to ordain ministers.
Since church is the supreme authority in all matters pertaining to this, there are those who believe
that it may ordain one of its members to the ministry by the use of a council, composed solely of laymen.
But undoubtedly it is better for the church to conform to the prevailing customs, for by so doing it will relieve itself
of the possibility of criticism by other churches with which it expects to cooperate in doing
the broader work of the Lord God.
Ever pastor should familiarize himself thoroughly with the customs of his church section of the country
where he lives and should conform to them without question, for this is better both for himself and his work.

5. The pastor, who is authorized, may invite one or more other pastors or ordained ministers to join him
in the formation of the presbytery.
If regularly ordained ministers are not available, the pastor may associate with himself in a council
one or more serious minded and regularly ordained deacons.

6. When the presbytery or council has been formed by the choice of a moderator and clerk, the brother is examined.
First, as to this Christian experience.
Second, as to his call to the ministry.
Third, as to this soundness in the doctrine.
Fourth, as to practice, both from the standpoint of the local work and as to cooperating with our organized work.

7. Let it be noted here that such an examination, while it has for its primary purpose the ascertaining
of whether the brother is fit for the ministry or not, should not be so conducted as to frighten
or intimidate the candidate, or as if the purpose is to overtake the candidate in mistakes
and thus show up his weakness and ignorance; but rather the spirit of genuine brotherliness and kindness
should prevail and an effort should be made to instruct and teach the candidate, as well as to discover
his fitness for the ministry.

8. If the candidate is found fit in the estimation of the presbytery or council to be ordained to the ministry,
a report to that effect is made to the church.
Then the church by motion or resolution authorizes the presbytery or council to proceed
to the formal ordination exercises.

9. Some brother is chosen to preach a sermon, the preaching of which is preceded by the usual song, prayer,
and Scripture reading service.
After the sermon has been preach, the candidate is asked to kneel in some brother chosen for the purpose
prays the ordination prayer; when the prayer is completed, the candidate remains on his knees
while the members of the presbytery or council lay their hands on his head as a token of his full ordination
to the ministry.
After this formality is completed, it is customary for some brother chosen for the purpose, in proper words,
to present the candidate with the Bible (each church which ordains a brother to the ministry ought to present him
with a handsome and durably made copy of the Holy Scriptures, suitably inscribed).
Another brother then enters the charge to the candidate; which is followed by the charge of the church,
which is delivered by still another brother chosen for the purpose.
These formalities completed, the presbytery or council and the membership of the church give
to the candidate the right hand of fellowship, after which he pronounces the benediction.

10. The clerk of the church should prepare a transcript of the minutes pertaining to the ordination of the candidate,
which should be signed by the pastor, the clerk, and members of the presbytery or council
and given to the candidate as his credentials.


The Deacons

1. The deacons compose that other class of officers as recognized in the New Testament.
They are elected by the church from its membership, and the election should be by ballot.
It is preferable that no nominations be made and that the members be allowed to make their own choice
without formal suggestion.
The number of deacons, according to our custom, varies.
The first deacons of the church in Jerusalem were seven in number, but it is not always possible to have seven,
since in some small churches there is no need for them in the first place and that are not sufficient suitable men
to fill the places.
On the other hand, in very large churches seven deacons are not sufficient to carry the weight of the business
of the church and to discharge the other obligations of the deacons.
In recent years many of those most familiar with efficient church methods urged that at least one deacon
for every twenty-five members should be chosen.

2. The length of service of the deacon is not set forth in the New Testament.
The general assumption in practice until very recent times was to recognize the office of the deacon
as a life office; but in more recent years many churches have arranged that their deacons
should serve one, two, or three year terms.
In some cases they are eligible to succeed themselves; in others they are not eligible to succeed themselves
under any circumstances, but must wait at least a year before they are eligible again for election.
This seems to be a very good custom, for the deacon is placed on the same footing as the pastor,
and serves in his position only so long as he may seem useful in it as judged by the church.
However, let it be understood that once the deacon has been ordained, he is always thereafter
a deacon in active service or not, unless of course he is excluded from the church
or from the office for a just cause.

3. When new deacons are chosen by the church, if they have not already been ordained to the office,
it is customary to ordain them.
The procedure is much the same as that of the ordination of a minister.
The church authorizes its pastor to assemble a council or presbytery for that purpose.
This council or presbytery may be composed of ordained ministers or ordained deacons associated with the pastor.
There are situations when the church may authorize its Board of Deacons or members of it to ordain other deacons.
The council or presbytery is organized by the election of a moderator and clerk, though these formalities
are rarely necessary since the pastor is moderator already and the church has its own clerk
who may act in that capacity.

4. Examination of the deacon, though much briefer, should be along the same lines laid down for examination
of the candidate for the ministry.
In some cases the Articles of Faith of the church are simply read and the thoroughgoing assent of each
of the deacons to their teachings.

5. Other formalities consist of the sermon on some subject pertaining to the duties and privileges of the deacon,
and ordination prayer, during which the new deacons kneel, the laying on of hands by the members of the council
or presbytery immediately after the prayer, the right hand of fellowship extended by the members of the council
or presbytery and congregation, followed by the benediction.

6. Some pastors have the custom of holding an annual school for deacons following the annual election of deacons.
The deacons will meet as scheduled and planned according to the church and the pastor.
A short speech is made by some suitable person on the duties, responsibilities, and privileges of the deacon.
This is followed by a lesson from some suitable book dealing with the duties of the deacons
and the finances of the church.


Other Officers of the Church

1. The church has many other officers, the clerk, the treasurer, the Bible school director and so on.
It is not the practice of the churches to choose deacons only for such offices, but undoubtedly if we followed
the spirit of the teaching of the New Testament every officer of the church would be either an elder, Bishop,
pastor, or deacon.

2. The duties of the various other officers could be outlined here, but it is not necessary
since there is so much other available literature on the subject.
However it does seem pertinent to mention the duties of the clerk.

The Clerk -- Duties

1. The clerk is elected to office by the church.
As in the case of all other officers should be elected by ballot, without the formality of nominations.

2. It is the duty of the clerk to keep a record of all activities and business of the church.
The custom in most churches is for the clerk to make a brief record possible of the business meetings
or conferences of the church.
No history of the church should be written from such records.

3. The clerk should be a person who attends regularly the services of the church and should considered
his or her duty to make a complete, thorough brief minute of every meeting of the church, giving the purpose
of the meeting, the names of all who unite with the church and how they were received.

4. One of the most important duties of the clerk is to keep a complete and up-to-the-minute roll
of the church membership.
When an individual presents himself or herself for membership but clerk should come forward
and fill out the cards for membership, and may hand the cards to the pastor so that he may introduce
the new members to the congregation and how they have presented themselves for membership.
Later the clerk may use the cards for completing his or her records.

5. The clerk's records should be kept in a ledger style of record book, and the membership roll is best kept
by an index card system or whatever system is best for the church.

7. Every church should have a fireproof safe in which to keep all of its important documents and records,
safe from fire and theft.


Other information to be added:
The church in business session.
Deacons meeting
Public worship
Reception of new members
Business meetings
The Lord's Supper
Ordinance of baptism

Material for organizing a church was adapted from the "Church Manual" by James Randolph Hobbs, 1934