Other Officers of a Church
Prayer: For all the officers of the church, that they might be fully
surrendered to the Lord; that they might faithfully discharge the duties
entrusted to them by the church.
While pastors and deacons are the only permanent scriptural church
officers, it is a prudential arrangement in all churches to have a clerk;
and owing to the requirements of the civil law in some places, it is
necessary to have trustees. The business of the clerk of a church is, of
course, to keep a record of the proceedings of the body. To secure
accuracy in the record, at every business meeting the proceedings of the
previous meeting should be read, corrected (if correction is necessary),
and approved by the church. Trustees are generally the legal custodians of
the church property, and are chosen by the church. They have an official
existence, because by civil statute it is required that the legal right to
property be vested in individuals. It follows, therefore, that the manner
of appointing trustees depends on the nature of the civil statute
regulating the matter, and may be different in different States. If the
statute permits the church to choose all the trustees, it is so done. If
the congregation is permitted to have an agency in the election, then most
probably the church will select so many and the congregation so many. This
will depend, as has been said, on the civil statute. Most usually the
church selects the whole number, and chooses from its own membership,
which is the better plan.
The province of trustees is quite restricted. They have nothing to do with
the spiritual affairs of the church. They cannot control the house of
worship, saying how it shall be used, or who shall preach in it, and who
shall not. The church must do all this. As church-members the trustees may
with other members decide what shall be done with church property, whether
the house of worship shall be sold and another built, etc., etc.; but as
trustees they can do nothing in these matters. When the church so orders,
they may convey or receive title to property, sue in the courts, etc., but
their business as trustees is exclusively secular. They cannot in the
capacity of trustees perform any spiritual function. A practical
remembrance of this fact would have saved not a few churches from trouble.
It is said that in some churches the trustees fix the salaries of pastors;
and from time to time increase or diminish them according to their
pleasure - that they employ choirs, buy organs, engage sextons, etc., etc.
All this is utterly indefensible. Trustees have not a particle of right to
do these things. The government of a church is with its members. The
churches must say what pastors' salaries shall be, whether music shall be
led by choirs, with the aid of instruments or not, etc., etc. Nothing must
be done which infringes the fundamental doctrine of church independence.
It is well worthy of the consideration of the churches whether they should
have trustees distinct from deacons. Would it not be better for every
church to merge its trusteeship into its deaconship? We do not hesitate to
answer this question in the affirmative. Trustees attend to some of the
secular interests of the churches, and all these interests should be under
the management of the deacons. They were appointed originally for this
very purpose, and a full discharge of the duties of their office would
supersede the necessity of trustees. Should the churches practically adopt
this view, it might be necessary, in some cases, to increase the number of
deacons. This could be done. The probability too is that the plan here
recommended would secure a better deaconship in many churches; for they
make it a point to select their best business men for trustees. These are
the very men for deacons. But the supreme argument in favor of this
arrangement is, that it is scriptural, while there is no scriptural
authority for trustees as distinct officers.
Discussion by Leader.
1. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a local, independent,
self-governing institution of the Lord; it is an organized body of
2. That an organized body requires officers; that officers of the church
have a definite responsibility to the church and to the Head of the
church, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Parts for Assignment:
1. Name some other officers of a church that are elected but not ordained.
2. Discuss the duties of the church clerk or secretary.
3. Discuss the duties of the treasurer.
4. Discuss the reason for trustees and their responsibilities.
1. How many officers can a church have? Should some churches have more
than others? Why?
2. For how long a time should officers be elected? Pastors? Deacons?
3. Why an indefinite call for the pastor?
4. Why an indefinite length of service for deacons?
5. Why annual election of other officers?
6. How should a church elect its officers? From the floor? By
recommendation of a committee and election by the church? By appointment
of the pastor? By appointment by the deacons?
7. What advantage does the plan of recommendation by a committee and
election by the church have over other plans?
Midi playing is; We're
Marching to Zion