The elders of our church are in the process of drafting a missionary policy to assist us in decisions the church makes regarding missionary support. To help us, we read a book by Andy Johnson called ‘Missions’ (available to borrow from the church library). Also, I have begun a series of bulletin articles outlining some of the ideas that the elders are considering. We’ve seen that we should expect our missionaries to be members of a local church and have a relationship with us at Drummoyne. Another characteristic of our missionaries is that they should meet the qualifications of deacons and elders.
The Bible has clear guidelines on who is allowed to minister in the church. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: ‘Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 3:1-13).
There are two offices in the church. Elders and deacons. The main difference between the two is that the elders must be able to teach, whereas a deacon serves in a non-teaching capacity, usually some form of church administration.
The clear instruction is that both sorts of leaders must be examples of Christian purity. There are many reasons for this.
One reason would be for the honour of God amongst outsiders. If leaders, including missionaries, are known for wicked behaviour, then God’s name will be mocked and the Christian witness hindered. Another reason is that leaders, including missionaries, may lead Christians astray. Christians seeing immoral missionaries may believe that they can be immoral too.
So if a missionary is to serve as a leader in some church or parachurch Christian organisation, then the elders of Drummoyne Baptist believe they should fit the requirements of God for church leaders. If they do not have integrity of life and lack the necessary gifts, then they will do much harm to the kingdom of God. Do you agree?