Q. At what age may a person become a pastor or deacon?
A. The Bible mentions qualifications for the office of bishop/elder (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) and deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13; cf. Acts 6:1-7). There is no age-specific qualification – that is, no age (in terms of years) is given to which a person must obtain to be qualified. Some of the qualifications, however, indicate a man who has been around long enough to have some life experience. In general, the candidate for office has been around long enough that the qualities could be seen and judged. Paul mentions both wife & children. While that may not mean that every pastor and deacon explicitly must be married with children, surely Paul expected that would be the norm.
Paul told Timothy “Let no man despise thy youth” (1 Timothy 4:12). According to 1 Timothy 3:6 the bishop (pastor, elder) is to be “not a novice,” which likely refers to either lack of experience, or being a recent convert – as opposed to referring to a person’s age. Paul also advises in 1 Timothy 5:22, “Lay hands suddenly on no man…” The person appointed to office should be qualified to hold the office. The person should be known by the church to be qualified to hold the office.
The biblical qualifications for the offices of pastors and deacons should be taken seriously. Often they are not taken seriously, and even different qualifications required in their place. The other extreme should be avoided as well. This other extreme is a mentality of “don’t go in the water until you learn how to swim.” Fact is, pastoring and deaconing is a learning experience. No one will know what he needs to know when he begins. There is a certain amount of “on the job training.” Much of this could be alleviated, though, if we followed the biblical example of plurality of elders and deacons.