Thinking Biblically about Deacons
And God has placed in the church...
gifts of helping.
2 Chronicles 27:6 ESV
Dispelling Myths about Deacons
Recently I brought up the topic of deacons. I encouraged us to be thinking about that role in the life of our church again.
I'm glad to say that Hopewell is a place where people actively seek to serve. I'm crazy blessed as a church leader in that respect. Our members actively take on responsibility and never need any prodding when any needs arise. This certainly has been one of the main reasons why we have been able to put off having "official" deacons.
(And it is a good place for me to say how fantastic it is to be surrounded by people like you all!)
While our fellowship will no doubt continue to serve the Lord in all kinds of capacities, we will no doubt mature into the need for deacons just like the early church did (Acts. 6). As our membership and ministry increase, so will our need for deacons.
Being that is so, it may be good to get a refresher course in what we in the Reformed tradition believe Scripture says about the office of deacon. Perhaps one good way to spell out a deacon's profile is by striking down some common misconceptions of what a deacon is.
So let's examine what a deacon is not.
1. He's not an "elder in training" - Often people think that deacons are guys who are either not good enough to be an elder or gearing up to be an elder. But this office is not a "ministry stepping stone" or "internship" for elders to be.
Deacons are spiritual men who are specially equipped by the Spirit for this particular calling. They compliment the office of elder and are equal to the office of elder. They merely serve a different role in the church, and the role is a vital one at that.
Rather than desiring to move up the ecclesiastical ladder, a deacon is one whose heart is bent on serving Christ in a way that elders are not most apt.
2. He's not a glorified janitor - Some of the deacons' responsibilities may very well involve keeping the church tidy or managing the property (and we rejoice that there are people who are dedicated to orderliness and cleanliness!). But we would do a great injustice to Christ and his church if we thought of deacons as only in custodial terms.
The deacon is a spiritual office and a ministry of the church. Christ instituted deacons so that the gospel could advance most efficiently and so that people could witness tangible expressions of His love here on earth.
Furthermore, a deacon has authority which puts his work above mere janitor levels. He holds an office, votes on issues, and acts as an official representative of Christ).
In sum, a deacon touches lives, not just things.
3. He's not an administrator - Some Christians believe deacons just spend hours upon hours in meetings. Their time is taken up with budgets and petty discussions about what color of carpet the sanctuary should have.
There's no doubt that deacons have to have occasional meetings and talk over such things, but deacons should be thought more of as doers. The office of deacon is very functional in that respect. We are to think of them as the hands and feet of Christ in this world. As such they are devoted to helping people, ministering in practical ways, and fulfilling varied needs which arise.
4. He's not a social services director - Some people are intimidated by the office of deacon because they think of it as a second job. They have this concept that deacons are actively engaged with the community, running a large soup kitchen or second hand clothing store.
To be sure, Paul talks about the deacon's work in terms of the gift of helps (1 Cor. 12:28). It is evident that the deacon's work is devoted to the tangible expressions of Christ's empathy.
However, the deacon's job description is not so much an outreach as it is an inreach. The deacon's primarily arena of service is his specific congregation.
While a church may have a outreach of that kind (and it may report to the deacons), the deacon is not the church's community services director. He is a man who wants to build up his fellow brothers and sisters with whom he worships.
Holly Jolly Hopewell
It's time to get your act together. Literally, get your act together. This year's Christmas program is just a month away (Dec. 13th)! If you would like to share music, Scripture, or a tactful game / skit with the congregation, contact Kim.
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A Reformed and family integrated Church in Ashland, Ohio.
Come & Worship
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1995 Baney Road
Ashland, OH 44805