- Jim Townsley
- Jan 27, 2014
Soul-winning must be the top priority for every new church. Without new converts there is no church. You must be careful not to be distracted by office details and computer activities that steal precious time from the main activity of soul-winning. Though soul-winning is initially the main focus of the church, eventually training and discipling new converts will become an important task. Developing leaders is a necessity for the church to grow and become strong. Eventually, new converts must become leaders in the church. No pastor can lead a healthy growing congregation without strong leaders.
The process of developing leaders for the church is a long and never ending endeavor. Initially, there can be roles of responsibility that that new members can fill. Greeting visitors, helping with setting up the meeting place, working in the nursery, distributing flyers, and ushering are examples of ministry opportunities that do not have high requirements.
Appointing a head usher, a director for the nursery, a treasurer, and electing deacons are important roles that require a serious commitment and evidence of spiritual maturity. Developing these leaders must be a high priority, but if someone is appointed or elected prematurely to a key position in the church it can be difficult to remove them from their position in the event a problem arises. Too many churches have faced great turmoil that eventually hurt the church and caused irreparable harm to the body of Christ simply because a man or woman was placed in a position for which they were not prepared to assume.
The office of deacon is a particularly important office of the church. Once elected, deacons may hold their office indefinitely. In fact, many church constitutions are set up to elect a deacon for life. In this case it is better to be cautious than hasty. Members that may have transferred from another church may create pressure to elect deacons prematurely which will result in problems and perhaps even a church split in the future. The pastor may put pressure on himself to select key leaders before they are ready. It is extremely important to wait on God's timing even if it takes longer than you want. When preparing the church constitution it is important to careful outline the election and dismissal of deacons and any other key leaders of the church and once prepared it must be followed.
Deacons are not a necessity of a new church. Newly established churches can operate without deacons for several years if necessary. It will be a huge mistake to elect deacons who are not qualified or prepared for the position. There are things that can be done by the pastor that will build confidence in his leadership prior to the installation of deacons. Until deacons are installed meetings can be held with men of the church informally so that they can have a part of the decisions that will be made. Key men could be groomed for the position of deacon by preparing them informally for a few years. Finding men who are qualified is becoming a more difficult task with each passing year. However, never should any man be considered for the office of deacons unless he is Scripturally qualified.
Even when a new member, who may seem a capable leader, transfers to the church it may be a good policy to require the office of deacon be held only by members who have been faithful in the church for a minimum of three years. Though a man may be qualified he has not yet proven his faithfulness to your church. Given time he can prove himself worthy of the position.
Deacons and other leaders are extremely important to every new church plant. Faithful, godly men are critical to the church's growth and maturity. It will be a great step for your church when you are able to appoint and elect men and women in key roles of responsibility. But doing so prematurely will be one of your greatest regrets. Be willing to wait on God's timing.