Monday, 24 February 2014

So What's the deal with deacons?

A brief study on the role of a Deacon
Deacons are found in various parts of the New Testament. Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8 and 12 contain the Greek word diakonos which translates to the English deacon meaning servant or a person who gives service and help to others.
The first place that we find deacons is in the book of Acts. Though the word diakonos isn’t used there is a definite selection process which placed men into a servant position. Acts 6:1-2, But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program.” So the first thing that we can take away from this is that the deacon is a selected position. It isn’t about whether you would like to be a deacon because if you notice the apostles told the people to find others that were among them (verse 3,”And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility”). The other piece of information that we can take from this passage is that the role of the deacon was to serve the people.
In verse one of Acts 6 we see that the Christian church had grown to the point where the apostles were unable to meet all of the needs of the people. The Greek speakers were murmuring and complaining against the Hebrew speakers because some of the people felt they were being treated differently. To deal with this the apostles called for the church to select seven people would support the apostles; people who would be responsible for serving the people (verse 2).
So here we find that the carefully chosen seven would meet the practical needs of the church. The practical needs would have been things such as organising the supplies, support, and finances, visiting those in need and the sick. And the whole reason for this was to ensure  that the apostles/elders would be able to continue in their calling of preaching, teaching and prayer. Acts 6:4, “Then we can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”
And so we need to recognise that the role of the deacon then is the same as it is for us today. There is no difference. God has given His holy perfect word to guide us. Deacons are to be the servant to the people in order that the Pastor/Elders can stay focused on prayer and teaching the word. However, this does not mean that all in church aren’t called to serve and care for one another and help out in the seen and unseen things as all Christians are called to a life of worship and service, but it does mean that those with specific gifts should willingly serve.

An Excerpt from New Connexions Free Church’s Constitution relating to the office of Deacon
2.2.1     Practical Administration and Leadership

The practical and administrative details of Church life shall be the responsibility of Deacons (see section 4.2 for details of qualifications, appointment and responsibilities).

Deacons will work alongside the Eldership to enable the Elders to carry out their work, being men and women selected from and by the Church meeting the Scriptural qualifications for Deacons and having their gifts recognised and affirmed by the Eldership.

A Deacon will be appointed as Treasurer and be responsible for the keeping of accounts and for the financial administration of the Church including any specific ministries which might, for good reason, hold separate funds.

A Deacon will be appointed as Secretary and be responsible for the keeping of minutes of Church Members Meetings, for supporting the Pastor in correspondence and general administration.
Other Deacons and Leaders for other Church activities shall be appointed as positions requiring practical and administrative responsibility might emerge. Such positions and their responsibilities are defined in later sections of this document.


4.2  Deacons

4.2.1     The Definition and Responsibilities of Deacons

a.    Up to seven Deacons shall be appointed, elected from among the members of the Church after nomination by Church members and meeting the biblical qualifications for Deacons, their gifts recognised and affirmed by the Eldership. Any member wishing to stand for election must have been a member for a minimum of six months.

b.    Once selected and appointed, a Deacon’s service will continue for a period of three years, after which they may be re-elected by the members of the Church, at a Quarterly Church Meeting.

c.    The function of a Deacon is to work alongside the Eldership, enabling the Elders to carry out their work without being concerned with the practical and administrative details of Church life, in such areas as finance, fabric, pastoral administration, plus others, as they might emerge.