What the Bible Says About Local Church Leadership
Well, the first thing is that it's local. There's no big hierarchy, no grouping of local churches or anything like that. God has asked for different members to take on different roles based on their abilities and qualifications. It's important to note that Christ is the only head in His church and, as the King, we are all subject to Him.
God wants elders (also called shepherds, bishops, or pastors) appointed in every local assembly. We see this noted in Acts 14:23 and Titus 1:5. The role of the elders is to guard, nurture, and own accountability for the spiritual well-being of the people who attend the local congregation. Elders are members just like everyone else but hold special responsibilities. The qualifications for being an elder are found in Titus 1:6-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7.
So that the elders might focus on the spiritual well-being of the congregation, I Timothy 3:8-13 also discusses the qualifications for deacons. The role of deacons is to tend to the operational and logistics needs of the congregation. Again, they have a special role but they, as the elders, are local members of the congregation.
The Bible also talks about evangelists (also called preachers). These are men who focus their work on the equipping and edification of the congregation for service to the King. An evangelist is also a member of the congregation like everyone else and the elders are accountable for his soul as well.
Out of respect for God's will, our servant leader structure is based on this biblical pattern.
Steve Nicholes Chris Bethell