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Preparing for Officer Exams

Syllabus & Study Guide

Berea PCA Church James J. Reap, Jr. Winter 2008

Preface
The church has no more vital task than examining those under consideration for the responsibility of church office (deacon or elder). This booklet is thus, a study guide for those men preparing for the officer exams at Berea Presbyterian Church. It is intended to guide candidates in studying and gaining a thorough knowledge in three general areas. 1. The English Bible 2. Theology 3. Practical Ministry In order to allow a proper understanding of the offices of a deacon and an elder & in keeping with the policies of the Presbyterian Church in America, the elders of Berea have instituted an apprenticeship, whereby a man may be thoroughly ready to be ordained as an officer in the church should the elders and people agree that he is called to that position. As you progress through this preparation and as you wrestle with whether God has called you to an office in His church consider that a Biblical call to the office of a deacon or elder is more than just desire.1 Traditionally, there are three parts. • First, there should be an inward element (ie. A genuine desire to pursue the office). • Second, there should be an outward element (ie. A community, church that tests the call). • Third, there should be a definite community or church to serve within. A summary of the process by which a man becomes an officer in Berea is detailed below. 1. Meet Biblical qualifications for the office2 2. Nominated by a committee of the congregation 3. Sense Godʼs internal / external calling to the office 4. Complete officer training course 5. Pass the final written examination 6. Pass an oral Session interview 7. Stand for election 8. Take ordination vows

1

1 Timothy 3:1 shows that “desire” for the office to be a good thing but must be accompanied by the qualifications that are then listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1
2

(see 1 Timothy 3:1-7 for elder & 1 Timothy 3:8-13 for deacon)

Course Description & Requirements
Course Purpose To thoroughly prepare men for examination for ordination to the Biblical offices of elder and deacon. Reading Requirements3 • Read the Westminster Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms • Read the Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America • Read “The New Testament Deacon” by Strauch • Read “Biblical Eldership” by Strauch Class Organization Because all of us are busy with multiple responsibilities at home and at work, we will bag our lunches and meet once a month, the last Sunday of each month, for two hours after church. Examination(s) There will be two examinations upon completion of the year-long apprenticeship. (1) (2) The final written examination at the end of the apprenticeship will include questions from one general area: the English Bible. The written exam will not be a surprise as all of the questions asked will come from this booklet. The oral examination before the Session is simply to ascertain your calling to the office and the prayerful support and equal calling of your wife.

3

All materials and books will be provided by Berea Presbyterian Church

Explanation of Assignments
Book Outlines Candidates should be able to give outlines of the books listed in the “Schedule of Assignments”. The outline should show that they have a good overall grasp of the content of the book, as well as the ability to locate key events within a book. Having a “telescoping” outline, with a few main divisions can be helpful in this regard. Below is an example of a notecard that outlines the book of Genesis. You will eventually make a card for all of the books of the Bible.

Book Outline: Genesis 1. Creation 1-2:3 2. Adam 2:4-5 a. Adam and Eve b. Cain and Abel c. Adam’s descendants 3. Noah 6-11 a. Flood b. Repopulating the earth c. Babel 4. Abraham 12-25 a. God’s covenant with Abraham b. Abram and Lot c. Sodom and Gomorrah d. Birth and near sacrifice of Isaac e. Abraham dies

5. Isaac 25-28 a. Jacob and Esau b. Isaac and Abimelech c. Jacob gets Isaac’s blessing 6. Jacob 28-36 a. Jacob starts a family b. Jacob returns home 7. Joseph a. Joseph sold into slavery b. Judah and Tamar c. Joseph is thrown into jail d. Joseph in charge of Egypt e. Joseph and his brothers meet f. Jacob and Joseph die in Egypt

Theology (Westminster Confession of Faith) Candidates should also be prepared to one day affirm the ordination vow that says: Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures; and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, will you on your own initiative, make known to your Presbytery the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?

As such, a study and understanding of the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Catechisms as the system of doctrine taught in the Bible is necessary.

The P.C.A. in general and Berea in particular are a “confessional church.” That is what we believe about God and salvation and Jesus Christ and the church and so on is publicly and openly recorded for all to see ... so that the Bible can be examined and one can see whether what we believe squares with the Bible, Godʼs Word. In a sense, all churches are “confessional” ... that is they have beliefs, they have traditions ... but often one is hard pressed to examine what they believe according to the Bible because it is not formulated for all to see. Book of Church Order This the “operating manual” of the Presbyterian Church in America. It, like the Confession and Catechisms, is under the authority of the Word of God. The questions in this section are listed to familiarize the deacon and elder with the organization and procedures of the P.C.A.

Schedule
The following is a overview of the assignments broken down by month. As you can see much of the work is self-initiated and I would highly recommend planning out your work week by week so as to not get behind. Every effort has been made to make this schedule as balanced and as concise as possible, but it will require a commitment and a discipline to complete. Praise our Lord that “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”
Month Book Outlines WCF Strauch-Deacon Strauch- Elder

January February March April May June July August September October November December

Gen - Lev Num - Jos Jdg - 1Ki 2Ki - Ezr Neh - Psa Pro - Isa Jer - Eze Dan - Mar Luk - Rom 1Co - Rev Review

1-3 4-6 7-9 10 - 12 13 - 15 16 - 18 19 - 21 22 - 24 25 - 27 28 - 30 31 - 33

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 - 13

1 2 3-4 5 6 7-8 9 10 11 - 12 13 14 - 15