The one supreme authority for the church is Jesus Christ, who rules through His Spirit-breathed word (Matthew 28:20; 1 Corinthians 14:37; Colossians 3:16). The Lord Jesus also sovereignly appoints church leadership, gifts for service, orderly worship, and discipline, as taught in the Scriptures (Matthew 16:18; 18:15-20; 28:18; Ephesians 1:20-23; 4:10-16).  

The biblically designated officers serving the church under Christ are elders (also called bishops/overseers and pastors) and deacons, both of whom must meet the biblical qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5.

The function of leadership resides in the office of elder (Hebrews 13:7, 17). Elders care for the souls of Christ’s flock as shepherds who oversee, protect, teach, and lead (Acts 20:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:9-11, 13; 2:1, 15; 1 Peter 5:2), not lording it over the flock but serving as examples (1 Peter 5:32 Corinthians 1:24).

 The office of deacon serves under the direction of the office of elder, performing a variety of vital ministries so as to free the elder(s) to fulfill their unique tasks of leadership (Acts 6:2-4).