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Church Leaders and Staff Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) represents a broad array of concerns of the membership of the Convention. Where the Convention has established formal policy or position on the subject, that response is provided.  However, there are many questions posed by the membership for which the Convention has no formal policy or position, and in those cases informal guidance is provided.  Informal guidance is not to be interpreted as formal Convention policy or position, but is offered in the form of general guidance or resources to enable the local congregation to develop their own policies and procedures.
 
Church Roles & Responsibilities: Where can I get information about the role of Church Leaders, including Trustees, Deacons, Ushers, Treasurers, Secretaries, etc.?
The Hiscox Guide for Baptist Churches will have some resources. As well, "The Busy Pastors Guide" printed by the Sunday School Publishing Board will be helpful (of course the BIBLE is an assumed resource). You may contact the SSPB directly concerning your specific book request and those mentioned above: Church Structure, Management, Constitution and By-Laws Resources • Goodwin, Everett C. 1995. The New Hiscox Guide for Baptist Churches. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press • Hiscox, Edward T. 1981. The Baptist Church Directory: A Guide to the Doctrines and Discipline, Officers and Ordinances, Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Also available online at www.Walmart.comfor approximately $15.00. • Hiscox, Edward T. 1981. The Hiscox Guide for Baptist Churches. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press • Mullins, E.Y. 1983. Baptist Beliefs. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press • A New Baptist Church Manual. 1986. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press • Jordan, Lewis Garnett. 1929. The Baptist Standard Church Directory and Busy Pastor's Guide: A.M. Townsend [and] E.W.D. Isaac. Nashville: Sunday School Publishing Board. Additional resources may be found at the Sunday School Publishing Board: Contact info for the SSPB: Business Hours: 8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. CST (Central Standard Time) By Telephone: Tel: (615) 256-2480 Toll Free: (800) 359-9398 By Fax: Customer Care Fax: (615) 242-4929 Publishing Fax: (615) 242-6305 E-mail: customercare@sspbnbc.com By Mail: Sunday School Publishing Board 330 Charlotte Avenue Nashville, TN 37201 Also, you may want to take a look at www.leadershipjournal.net. This is the website of Leadership magazine. There will be some archived issues specifically geared to church leaders
Treasurer: Does the Treasurer have motion and voting rights in a Trustee Board meeting?
Only if he/she is also a Trustee. Some churches make the Treasurer an ex-officio Trustee.
Deacons: Where can I find information on the process for ordaining a Deacon?
There is a book called "The Baptist Deacon", written by Robert E. Naylor. It is published by Broadman Press of Nashville, TN. For information on selection and ordination, pay close attention to Chapter three. You may also consult "Church Officers At Work" by Glenn H. Asquith and published by Judson Press. Additional information can be found in these often-used resources: Goodwin, Everett C. 1995. The New Hiscox Guide for Baptist Churches. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press Hiscox, Edward T. 1981. The Baptist Church Directory: A Guide to the Doctrines and Discipline, Officers and Ordinances, Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Deacons: Can a divorced person be a deacon in the church?
The answer to this question, like so many other questions in the autonomous tradition of Baptist Church doctrine, will be based on the local church's theological understanding and tradition. Its theological understanding and tradition is usually driven by past and present Pastors' theology regarding the Office of Deacon. Conservative interpretations of First Timothy 3:12 from which this question arises, takes these words literally. (This surprises me since these interpreters do not take into consideration the larger context, verses 8-12. If they did, I doubt that we would have any deacons that actually qualify for the office.) My personal belief as informed by Church historians and theologians that have studied cultural context as an important interpretation tool is: 1. this rule does not make it necessary that a deacon even has to have a wife to serve as a Deacon, nor 2. imply that he cannot continue his office once re-married either after the death of the first wife, or after a legal, scriptural divorce of the first wife. Peter is possibly establishing the rule that he (both pastor and deacon) should have "one legal wife at a time" along with a particular set of Christian family values. This would be a way of excluding certain "wanna be(s)" from becoming elders, or pastors, or deacons, etc., of churches: 1. who planned on becoming "polygamists" 2. who were present polygamists, or 3. who had divorced their wives for reasons other than scriptural law allowed and married others. Polygamy and divorces in the first century were quite common among the Jews and non-Jews due to Greek culture. In spite of what the Jewish law commanded per Leviticus 21:13-14, Jews (and non-Jews for that matter) were not easily convinced that their right to marry more than one woman at a time should be given up in order to become a Christian. And though polygamy and divorces were not lawful per Jewish scripture, they became especially scandalous in officers of the early century churches. This was a situation that had to be corrected if the church was to grow. It is the above background that helps us understand that in the early formation of the church as a distinct religious institution from Jewish Temple faith, Christian officers like the Apostle Peter and Paul were laying down rules and laws. They made it quite clear that Jewish and non-Jewish marriage liberalism would not infect Christian office holding. Christian officers of faith would be held to certain standards, one of which would be, "no polygamy allowed" and no key office holding by those who refused to give up their other culturally defined values and ways. For this and some more complicated, theological reasons, one interpretation of 1 Timothy 3:12 would be that a divorced deacon was not prohibited from serving the Office of Deacon if his divorce was on acceptable Christian grounds as understood through scripture. Such a person would also not be prohibited from remarrying if he remarried a Christian woman and committed as a Deacon to being governed by the rest of the values stated in 1 Timothy 3:8-12 (to the best of his knowledge and ability I might add). Again, the above is one interpretation that many Baptist church go by.
Deacons: Can the deacons call a meeting without informing the Pastor?
The Deacons are the Pastor's helpers and as such, gain their authority from the Pastor's office. Since they get their "marching orders" from the Pastor, they have nothing to meet about without either the pastor's presence or knowledge. Actually, only two persons may call a Deacons meeting: the Pastor or the Chairman of Deacons. The Chairman should not do so without the Pastor's knowledge. Part of the Deacon's responsibility is to promote harmony within the Church. The calling of a private meeting, without the Pastor's knowledge not only fails to promote harmony, but in fact, disrupts the harmony. Even if the meeting were totally innocent, it can have significant negative effect upon the Congregation. Members will surmise that either the Deacons are up to something or that the Pastor is up to something. either way, disunity ensues. that is why it is so vitally important for the Deacons and the Pastor to have open communication. Consequently, any deviation from that process should be dealt with swiftly and emphatically.
Deacons: Can a deacon extend the invitation to discipleship after the sermon is preached and ordained ministers are present?
Deacons can extend the invitation to discipleship or membership in any Baptist church. However, if an ordained minister is present, they should defer to them.
Deaconess Role & Qualifications: What is the role of the Deaconess in the church?
1. There is a general consensus regarding the Black Baptist Church's understanding of the character of the Deaconess, if for no other reason, the character of a Deaconess is spelled out very clearly in First Timothy 3:11. In this passage the word women is interpreted by Baptists to mean "wives" of male deacons. 2. Traditionally, the Deaconess is the female wife of her husband who is a Deacon. Traditionally she assists in the following areas: a. Assists her husband in home and hospital visits b. Assists the Deacons in carrying out Baptism and the Lord's Supper. c. Provide spiritual counseling to females of the church d. Provide instruction for single women, wives and young teens in church etiquette and church protocol and general matters of faith. 3. In the last 20 years or so, there has been a growing defection from the traditional understanding of the Deaconess and therefore the role of the Deaconess. This departure stems from a re-visitation of the texts that have been traditionally interpreted as deaconess or servant when the Bible passage is referring to women. For example Romans 16:1 states, according to the King James Version, "I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is in Cenchreae..." Some Baptist interpret servant to mean deaconess because the word in Greek, diakonos, is the same word used in other places for a male Deacon. Such is the case in first Timothy 3:8. Since some pastors' theology of ministry leadership, especially ordained leadership, does not permit women to be ordained, Phoebe could not be called a Deacon, so they have given females servants the name deaconess. This decision to give female servants the name deaconess to distinguish them from male deacons who are ordained, they justify theologically by additional New Testament texts; Jesus' own decision to not call women to his side as his special appointed/ordained disciples, and Black Baptist church tradition. Pastors who have decided to not make a gender distinction between males and females have justified ordaining female deacons on the basis of theological interpretations of texts, as well as, precedents established by the theological interpretation by the early church fathers. For example, the early church Father, John Chrysostom in Homilies on Roman 31 (on Rom 16:1; late 4th century), understood diakonos to be a term of rank and that "even women are instituted deacons in the church." Ignatius, Bishop of Rome at the turn of the century, twice refers to a deacon of one church serving as an ambassador to another church. (Ignatius Letter to the Philadelphians 10:1; Letter to the Ephesians 2.1) Women were also among the ranks of deacons in the Ephesians church: "Women (deacons), likewise, are to be worthy of respect, not slanderers, temperate, and trustworthy in everything" (I Timothy 3:11 my translation.). Dr. Linda Belville in her article, Women Leaders in the Bible, DISCOVERING BIBLICAL EQUALITY: COMPLEMENTARITY WITHOUT HIERARCHY, INTERVARSITY PRESS 2004, P.122) states, "That Paul is speaking of women in a recognized leadership role is apparent not only from the listing of credentials but also from the fact that these credentials are duplicates of those listed for male deacons in I Timothy 3:8-10. Also, the Greek word order of I Timothy 3:8 and 11 is identical: "[Male] deacons likewise [diakonous hosautos] must be serious, not double-tongue, not indulging in much wine...Women likewise must be serious, not slanders, but temperate" (I Tim 3:8,11 NRSV). Clement of Alexandria (second-third centuries) says, "For we know what the honorable Paul in one of his letters to Timothy prescribed regarding women deacons." Clement of Alexandria Strategies 3.6.53).
Deaconess Role and Qualifications: Does a Deaconess have to be married to a Deacon in the church in order to serve?
The role of Deaconess varies from Church to Church depending on the local polity. In general, a Deaconess is a woman, selected by the Church, who performs the functions of a male Deacon in instances where it would be inappropriate for a male to do so (dressing female candidates for baptism). As such, there is no requirement for the woman's husband to be a Deacon member of the local Church. Some Churches however, fill the office of Deaconess solely on the basis of being married to a Deacon. In such cases, the Church determines if it requires marriage to a Deacon of its local congregation or any Deacon anywhere. Finally, some Churches do not use Deaconesses at all, opting to let the Mother's Board fulfill this function.
Mother of the Church: What are the role and qualifications of the Mother of the church?
This is an honorary position in the church and has variations based on any given church's self-understanding. 1. This position can be lifetime once the person is either elected or appointed by the pastor. After the person's death another mother is elected or appointed to replace her. 2. This position is shared by a number of women who are so elected by church vote at a church meeting every year, two years or three years. The criterion for election is based on the same used for a church widow, or, criterion established by the church in keeping with sound Christian doctrine. This means that a Mother's Club or Ministry is formed that may do any or all of the following things at a minimum: a. Assist in the nurturing of members, especially young teens and youth. b. Engage in special ministry projects of a missionary nature c. Visit the sick d. Assist in the kitchen during the time of funerals as well as carry flowers from the sanctuary to the funeral cars e. Prepare Thanksgiving and/or Christmas meals for the homebound or at the church.
Church Administrator: What are the duties of the Church Administrator?
The duties of the church administrator are determined by each local church. The scope of responsibilities and authority varies significantly with each local congregation, based on the needs of that congregation. On the Downloads page of this section, there is a link to the document, "Church Administrator Roles & Responsibilities" that goes over what a church business administrator is and provides a detailed accounting of what can be included under his/her scope of responsibilities: This resource is developed by the National Association of Church Business Administration. [http://www.nacba.net/Pages/Home.aspx]
Minister of Music: Does the Convention have salary guidelines for musicians?
The Convention does not maintain any standards on salaries—that is a matter completely up to the local church, and job market for musicians. However, there is some good information available on the web. Here are some online resources for you to explore: Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/musicians-and-singers.htm (this link is directly to the page on musicians & singers).
Music and Worship Arts: What are the duties of the Choir President or Coordinator?
You can download a more reader friendly sample position description here: http://www.nationalbaptist.com/resources/church-policy-and-polity/downloads.html It is published here for your convenience: Choir Coordinator (or President) Responsible to the Minister of Music or the Director of their particular choir  Appointed or elected  Must have a proven record of personal integrity and self-motivation in the fulfillment of the Ministry  Must be saved, talented and Holy Spirit-filled with a desire to bring glory to God through music.  Must have a growing theology and practice of Christ- centered worship.  Must have administrative skills Requirements:  Sufficient health to discharge duties properly  Requires passing criminal civil background checks (particularly if working with children and youth)  Strong commitment to biblical Christian principles and teachings both professionally and personally  Must be living a Christian life in the world, and participating in Christian Bible study, particularly as provided by this church Duties:  Leads the choir leadership (administrative) staff (secretaries, treasurer, etc.)  (Unless elected) appoint (with MM and CD approval) key persons to assist, knowing that the director is ultimately responsible for the work of this choir in carrying out the administrative needs of the choir.  Enforce guidelines for choir with the approval from the choir director (uniform, conduct decorum, attendance, etc.)  Handle (or appoint someone to handle) dues, uniform fees, music fees, etc.  Track attendance, sick or missing members (see section leaders)  Seek ways to recruit new members  Keep choir morale lifted through fellowship events, visitation, cards, etc.  Comply with all administrative duties appropriate for a church staff member, i.e. attend staff meetings, orientation training and workshops, turn in reports, stay in regular contact with the choir director  Encourage members to participate in Mass Choir opportunities for special events, i.e. Women’s Day, Men’s Day, Pastor and Church Anniversary, Family and Friends’ Day, Easter, Christmas, etc.  Work in cooperation and Christian fellowship with other ministry staff persons.