1. What qualities do you value in leaders? (Include leaders from all sectors: political, business, work, sports etc.)
2. Consider the most effective or healthy church that you’ve personally experienced. What were some characteristics of the leader (pastor)? (They not only assume responsibility for leading the church’s ministries and mission, but the pastor serves as an example of a well-lived Christian life.)
3. How are the requirements for church leadership similar and different from other leadership positions?
4. Should church leaders be held to different standards than other leaders? Why or why not?
The impact of godly pastors goes far beyond the church body to reach an observant community.
Paul specified high standards for church leaders knowing that their influence would go beyond the local body of believers they served.
A Pastor’s Heart! Read 1 Timothy 3:1
Paul is saying here that what is to follow is trustworthy and a non-negotiable truth. The word “overseer” is synonymous with “pastor,” “elder,” and “bishop” in the New Testament. Certainly Paul isn’t talking about selfish ambition but one who strongly feels the leadership of the Holy Spirit calling him to such a ministry.
(Distribute Pack Item 9—Models of Church Structure.)
There is a link between godly pastors and healthy churches!
1. Because pastors are held in such high regard, does that mean every Christian should aspire to join the ranks of church staff? (The understanding that the church achieves maximum impact under visionary, faithful leaders can be a powerful reason to consider whether God is calling you to be a pastor. Discerning that God has placed a call on your life for pastoral leadership demands that you respond in obedience.)Why is it important for every believer to seriously consider the role God wants him or her to fulfill in His work? (We are all called to serve in the Body of Christ—the Church. Each person should seek the leadership of the Holy Spirit in finding their role in the Kingdom.)
A Pastor’s Character! Read 1 Timothy 3:2-7
Paul has a lot more to say about the character of a pastor than he does about the actual job of being a pastor.
Notice how Paul begins and ends this passage: “He must be above reproach…” and “he must have a good reputation among outsiders…” This doesn’t mean he is sinless but his overall character is one that is highly thought of throughout the community. Paul framed his list here in 1 Timothy and in Titus 1:6-9 with statements about a church leader’s reputation.
(Hand out the list of qualifications for church leaders attached at the back of this lesson plan. Cover the list for pastors with the class.)
1. Why is it so important that the church call godly qualified pastors? (God has deemed the position of pastor as one to hold both honor and responsibility; the stakes are too high for casual commitment. Carelessness in the pastorate may result in great damage within the church.)
A church in the hands of an untrustworthy pastor opens the gospel to scrutiny and doubt by the community it’s supposed to serve. Meanwhile, the eternal salvation of people is at stake.
2. What insights may we gain from the detailed list of qualifications for being a pastor? (Although every person can be deemed a sinner, being “above reproach” means the pastor can’t be labeled or defined by a certain kind of prevalent sin but instead exhibits ongoing sterling character.)
Some of the qualifications point to a practical skill set that serves pastors well in ministry: able to teach, a friendly and generous host, a capable manager. A good family manager has learned to prioritize marriage and parenting faithfully. The church is often compared to a family; therefore, someone who manages a family well will have insights into managing a church.
3. What impact does the reputation of a church leader have among unbelievers? (If a church leader has a bad reputation among unbelievers the gospel suffers and the church will not reach people in the community. A bad reputation is talked about among the community much more than a good one. The Devil sees to that!)
4. How can we help our pastor consistently achieve these good character qualities?
A Deacon’s Character! Read 1 Timothy 3:8-13
The word deacon means “one who serves.” This could include things like serving meals, caring for the needy, and freeing up apostles (or pastors today) to focus on prayer and preaching. Acts 6:1-7 records the first record of “deacons” being selected by the church for the specific reasons listed above.
A close examination of the character qualities listed for pastors and deacons reveals there is not a lot of difference in the two lists.
1. Examine the list of qualifications for pastors and deacons and compare it with the expectations for every Christian. In what ways are the qualifications for pastors and deacons different from qualities for all believers?
2. How are they similar?
3. How would you say the references to the wives of church leaders should be applied in church life? (The command to be faithful in everything paints the portrait of a balanced, godly woman who maintains good relationships with her family, church, workplace, and community.)
While there’s room for debate on how to interpret the prerequisite that pastors and deacons should be the husbands of but one wife, that interpretation rightfully belongs to the local church to decide.
4. How has your understanding of church leadership changed as a result of this study?
Godly behavior is to be expected of all church members, regardless of role or gender.
5. Read verse 13. Matthew 20:28 tells us that Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. How does faithful service honor God?
Memorizing these verses will help us all remember the importance of service in God’s kingdom!
Summarize and Challenge!
1. Understanding the focus these positions have been given in Scripture, how much attention should a church give when selecting leaders? (Due diligence requires that churches lovingly, but carefully, examine the lives of potential leaders before calling them. Knowingly compromising on any standards risks compromising the gospel in the eyes of other believers and unbelievers.)
Upholding the standards as they have been defined by Scriptures puts the church in a position of trust and safeguards its future.
2. What are some ways we can encourage our pastors and their families? (Prayer. Words of appreciation and affirmation.)
3. What do you need to do as a result of this study?
Personal challenge: Evaluate yourself on your own Christlikeness, and then through prayer ask God to evaluate you, too.
Pray for our church’s leaders and consider ways we can bless their faithfulness. Don’t forget their families as well; we can give them words of affirmation as well!
Qualifications for Pastors and Deacons
1 Timothy 3:1-13
· Above reproach
· Husband of one wife
· An able teacher
· Not addicted to wine
· Not a bully
· Not quarrelsome
· Not greedy
· Manages his own house hold competently
· Having his children under control
· Not a new convert
· Must have a good reputation among outsiders
· Worthy of respect
· Not hypocritical
· Holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience
· First be tested, if blameless then they may serve
· Wives must be worthy of respect not slanderers
· Wives exercise self-control
· Wives faithful in everything
Expectations for every Christian
Ephesians 5:6-18; Philippians 1:27; 2:14-16; Colossians 3:5-13
· Don’t become partners with deceptive people
· Walk as children of light
· Walk in Goodness
· Walk in Righteousness
· Walk in Truth
· Discerning what is pleasing to the Lord
· Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness
· Expose darkness
· Walk not as unwise people but wise
· Don’t be foolish; Understand what the Lord’s will is
· Don’t get drunk with wine; Be filled by the Spirit
· Live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ
· Stand with one spirit and one mind
· Working side by side for the faith
· Do everything without grumbling and arguing
· Be blameless and pure
· Children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation.
· Hold firmly to the message of life
· Put to death your worldly nature
· Put away sexual immorality; Put away impurity; Put away lust; Put away evil desire; Put away greed; Put away these for they are idolatry
· Also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth
· Do not lie
· Be renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator
· Put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
· Accept one another and forgiving one another.
“Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.”