2018 Officer Nominations and Training

Dear Church Family,

At the July session meeting last week, Elder Greg Berkhouse informed the session that he will be resigning from the session at the end of 2018. After many years of faithful service at Providence Presbyterian Church (PPC) here in Midland, he and Rachel have decided to relocate to the Dallas area. This transition will take a year or more, during which time they will continue to live here in Midland; however, because they will necessarily be splitting their time between locations and then eventually fully transitioning to Dallas, Greg felt that he would not be able properly to fulfill his role as an elder in the church after the end of 2018.

Officer Nominations

Due to Greg Berkhouse’s departure – as well as our continued need of officers who will serve and lead Christ’s church – the session has decided to open nominations for the office of elder and deacon beginning this coming Sunday. The process for the election of church officers will be as follows:

Nominations (July 22 – August 19): communing members may complete the nomination form (which will be made available on Sunday) and put it in the box in the narthex of the church.

Officer Training (September 2018 – February 2019): those who have been nominated will be invited to participate in an officer training class which will run for five or six months.

Examination (Spring 2019): those who have been nominated, have participated in the training, and are willing and able to serve will be examined by the Session of the church.

Election: upon examination by the Session, those eligible candidates for the office of elder or deacon will be presented to the congregation for election at a congregational meeting.

Ordination: those elected by the congregation by a majority vote will be ordained during a Sunday morning worship service of the church.

Qualifications for Office

In deciding whether or not to nominate a man for church office, it is helpful to review and consider what the Bible says about the qualifications of elders and deacons. Those who are leaders in the church are given the charge to keep watch over the souls in their care. And, the people of God should be willing to submit joyfully to them. This will benefit both the leader and those who are led, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17

When considering men for the office of elder or deacon in a church, there are two main passages in the New Testament which speak specifically to the required qualifications (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1).

1 Timothy 3:1-13 (elders and deacons)

The office of ‘overseer’ or ‘elder’ is a fine work (literally, a good work), which requires certain qualifications:

It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

 

Similarly, the office of deacon, though one of service and not rule, requires certain qualifications, as well:

Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:8-13)

 

Officers’ Wives

In the midst of these instructions about deacons, in verse 11, Paul inserts a comment about how “women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.” This verse has been variously interpreted as referring to: deaconesses (female deacons), women in the church who assist the deacons or serve in a similar non-ordained role, the wives of deacons, or the wives of both elders and deacons.

Based on the context, the overall teaching of Scripture, and the fact that the Greek word for “women” may also be translated as “wives” (as it is in verses 2 and 12 of this same chapter), I believe it is best to understand 1 Timothy 3:11 as referring to the wives of both elders and deacons. This is John Calvin’s interpretation: “He means the wives both of deacons and of bishops [overseers], for they must be aids to their husbands in their office; which cannot be, unless their behaviour excel that of others.” (John Calvin, Commentary on 1 Timothy 3:11) What this means, then, is that in considering men for office – if they are married, the church should also consider the character of their wives.

Titus 1:5-9 (elders)

In our denomination, we emphasize a potential elder’s doctrinal fitness, his knowledge of Scripture and theology. And, rightly so. At the same time, Paul’s exhortation to Titus instructs us to consider the sum of a man’s life. Paul left Titus on the island of Crete for a reason: to set in order what remains by appointing elders in every city (Titus 1:5). So, Paul goes on to give Titus direction as to what to look for in an overseer or elder. These qualifications may be grouped into three categories.

[1] Family – The elder must be “above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.” (Titus 1:6)

[2] Life – He “must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled.” (Titus 1:7-8)

[3] Doctrine – He must be a man who is “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9)

Of course, these are all things to which every believer ought to aspire, but elders are specially called to be examples to the flock in these areas.

For Those Nominated

At the close of nominations, those who have been nominated will be contacted and told of the nominations that they received. When seeking to discern a call to church office, there are three basic things to consider:

[1] Personal Desire – The Holy Spirit must be giving a man the desire to serve as an officer in Christ’s church for it is a fine work (1 Timothy 3:1).

[2] Qualification – A man must be qualified according to the gifting and standards that are laid out in Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9).

[3] Approved by the Church – Others in the church have encouraged a man in this decision, as well as officially endorsed and ordained him to the office (Acts 6:1-6; 14:23).

Those who are nominated are encouraged to speak to the pastor, elders, or deacons of the church as you consider the high calling to office in the church.

Conclusion

Please, prayerfully consider those whom you would nominate for church office and then pray for them, this very important undertaking in the life of our church, and for the present leadership of the church.

If you have any questions, please contact the pastor or one of the elders.

The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch

Worshiping with Calvin Podcast

Dear Church Family,

My family and I recently returned from our denomination’s General Assembly in Atlanta, GA. In addition to conducting the work of the church, one of the things that I enjoyed most was the opportunity to attend several seminar presentations. One that I attended was taught by Pastor Richard Phillips of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC. The seminar was entitled, “Reformed Worship: Eurocentric or Word-centered?”

Upon returning from General Assembly, I listened to a podcast from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals that touched on several of the same themes. In the podcast, the hosts interview Pastor Terry Johnson of Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, GA. The podcast is entitled, “Worshiping with Calvin.” You may listen online here. I commend it to you.

The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch

2018 PCA General Assembly

Dear Church Family,
 
My family and I will be travelling next week to the 46th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in Atlanta, GA. This is the highest church court of our denomination. Over one thousand delegates (pastors and elders) will gather for worship and to conduct the business of the church. We hear reports about the work of the various agencies of our denomination, debate and vote concerning matters of the church, and set general policy and procedures for the greater church. There are also informal times of fellowship, catching up with old friends, and making new ones.
 
For most members of the church who have never attended General Assembly, a regional presbytery meeting, or even a session meeting at the local church level, it is sometimes difficult to follow or understand what takes place in these meeting. For those who would like to learn more and get a glimpse of what goes at these church courts, here are some links to items that may be of interest:
 
Docket – this is a six-page document with the scheduled events and business of the General Assembly.
 
Overtures – this is a list of the thirty-nine overtures that have been sent up to the General Assembly. Overtures can come from individuals, sessions, or presbyteries; they are a kind of petition, requesting the General Assembly to discuss and vote on a particular matter (e.g., a change to the constitutional documents of our church).
 
Worship Schedule – There will be three worship services during the General Assembly, one each on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
 
Live Streaming & Video Archives – There will be live-streaming video of all the business sessions and worship services of the General Assembly. Soon after each session, those videos will be archived at this site, as well. Even if you’re not able to watch while it happens, I recommend viewing the worship services and parts of the business sessions of the archived video just to get a sense of what General Assembly is like.
 
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
 
Please pray for our family as we travel, and for this meeting of the highest court of our denomination.
 
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch

Two Origins of Temptation

Dear Church Family,

In the passage for our sermon this coming Sunday (1 Corinthians 10:13-22), our faithful God gives us a wonderful promise to guard and protect us from temptation in our pursuit of holiness:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

 

On Sunday, we’ll talk a little bit about the two different kinds of temptation that we, as believers, must war against. One is external to us, in which the world and the devil seek to lead us into sin. The other is internal, the lusts of our own flesh. Both the external and internal temptations work in concert to wage war against the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:1-3).

We’ll talk more about the very practical ways in which the Lord limits our temptations, strengthens us, and provides us with the means to grow in grace on Sunday. For now, though – and in preparation for our sermon on Sunday – I recommend a recent article that helpfully explains these two kinds of temptations: “Identifying Our Identity” by Jared Nelson.

In the article, the author explains how a misunderstanding, or even a denial of these two kinds of temptations (external and internal), is being promoted in some Christian circles today with very deleterious effects.

The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch