In the New Testament, there are only two kinds of church leaders. The first is deacons, mature believers appointed to lead a specific practical ministry in the church. Just one Greek word is used for this office: diakonos. It’s a very basic word for a servant, an assistant, an attendant, or a waiter. The Holy Spirit chose this word for the more basic, more targeted position of leadership and service in a church: a deacon. There were seven of them in the first church, in Jerusalem. There’s nothing special about that number; they needed seven, so they appointed seven.

The second kind of church leader is elders. These were mature believers tasked with overseeing the entire ministry of the church. The Holy Spirit chose three different Greek words to communicate different aspects of this position: poimen, episcopos, and presbyteros.

a.       The word ποιμήν (poimen) is the word for “shepherd.” It is used of Jesus himself a couple times, and just once for church leaders, particularly in their role as the main human teachers of the church.

b.       The word πίσκοπος (episcopos) was a basic word for a foreman, or a manager. It usually gets translated as “overseer” or “bishop” in our English Bibles. It is used four times referring to church leaders, and once referring to Jesus himself.

c.       The word πρεσβύτερος (presbyteros) is a basic word for a mature man. It is used sixty or so times in the New Testament, with different shades of meaning.

• about 5 times: older men or women, with no necessary connection to leadership

• about 30 times: “the elders,” the official leaders of Old Covenant Jewish communities

• about 25 times: “the elders,” the official teaching leaders of New Covenant churches

Please pay attention to the fact that the word “elder” is used by God much more often than “pastor” or “overseer.” It seems to be God’s go-to word for the main leaders of the churches. Please also take note of the fact that every church was to be led by a group of elders – never just one. And we need to see that the elders (a.k.a. pastors, a.k.a. overseers) were not the same thing as deacons.

          So what does all that have to do with us at Dundalk’s First Baptist Church? Let’s talk about that!