The Bible says that anyone who would serve as an elder must be 'the husdand of one wife' and must rule 'his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence' (1 Timothy 3:2,4). We do not believe this constitutes an absolute requirement that a man be married and have children; it's just that it would be difficult to assess a man's leadership abilities if he is not married and has not had to deal with children. Therefore, serving as a deacon may be a good alternative way to see how well a man leads and serves. There is no biblical requirement that a man serve first as a deacon, but we believe it is a good idea. The whole point of 1 Timothy 3 is that a man should not serve as an elder until he has demonstrated good character and competency to the church over a fairly lengthy period of time.