The work and ministry of EBC is done through the efforts and resources of the people. The ministry is not the expression of a single individual but rather the expression of a people who love God, one another, their community, and who have a burden to see the name of Jesus made popular in Bladen County and the surrounding regions.
Elizabethtown Baptist Church is 1)pastor led, (2)deacon served, (3)committee/team operated, (4)congregationally approved.
1. We believe in a pastor-led, not pastor run, church. The pastor must be the elder which speaks of his maturity; he must be the shepherd which speaks of his ministry and he must be the bishop which speaks of his management.
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1Peter 5:1-4)
The word elder in this passage teaches that a pastor must have a spiritual maturity that exceeds the flock. The bible says an elder must be blameless. Certainly no man is perfect but a pastor must have emotional, intellectual, and volitional integrity. According to Titus 1 he should not be self willed, quick tempered, have an uncontrolled appetite, be violent or greedy. He must love what is good, upright, and holy. His priorities are as such. He must know that praying is more important than preaching; preaching in more important than administration, family is more important than congregation, and faithfulness is more important than success. He must be a man of biblical, theological, and moral fidelity. He must be a man who is sensitive to the needs of his wife and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Shepherding the flock speaks of the pastor’s responsibility to study and pray so that he can teach, preach, and minister the word of God with knowledge and zeal. As the shepherd he must strive to guard, guide, and spiritually grow the flock. The Word of God is very clear that if the Word of God is preached it will reprove (convict), rebuke (correct), and with grace and mercy it will exhort and encourage. The shepherd does pander and pamper he feeds and leads.
The pastor as the overseer has oversight over the church. The Greek word for overseer is ‘episkopos’ which is translated bishop and this speaks of his management. In this word the pastor is not given ecclesiastical rights he is being entrusted with spiritual responsibility. A church that follows the biblical pattern will be pastor led.
2. We believe in a deacon served (not run) church. The office of deacon was created in the early church not to free the pastor “from” work but to free him “for” the work he has been called. In Acts 6 the deacons were chosen to solve a problem that had arisen within the church fellowship and to preserve the harmony of the church to enable the apostles to give their full attention to prayer and ministry of the Word. Therefore, we believe the role of the deacon is to serve the Lord by caring for the physical, spiritual, and relational needs of the body including also the areas of benevolence and bereavement; and to be an example to the church in evangelizing the lost, loving God's Word and advancing the unity of the church. The position of deacon is an elected one. A deacon should certainly feel led to serve in that position however, the initiation of that commitment rests in the hands of the local church and it is not a position to which one appoints one’s self.
3. We believe in a committee/team operated church. Just as the physical body is equipped with codependent systems such as the nervous system, circulatory system, etc…the spiritual body requires the same type of organization for effective ministry. The SBC was structured in 1845 for the purpose of “eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort, for the propagation of the gospel.” This idea of many different parts working together applies, not just to our convention, but to the local church as well. Whether financial, administration, ministry, evangelism, or whatever these teams/committees each do their specific work so that the work of the whole church can go forward.
4. We believe in congregational approval. It has been said that the greatest historical and theological contribution of Baptist movement is the doctrine of the soul’s competency in religion. Edgar Young Mullins in his, The Axioms of Religion wrote, “Democracy in church government is an inevitable corollary of the general doctrine of the soul’s competency in religion…Democracy in church government is simply Christ Himself animating His own body through His Spirit.” Congregational approval in all major church decisions is not only historic but a constant affirmation and reminder of our firm belief in the individual priesthood of the believer.