15 Apr The Role Of Deacons
As elders and evangelists, we need to focus on teaching the Word of God, building a warm and loving fellowship, leading our churches forward in spiritual growth, and equipping our members to share the gospel in our community. We have a lot on our plates! Thankfully, God has provided the role of deacon to help our churches in areas of practical leadership. Appointing and equipping deacons to lead helps to spread out the many responsibilities involved in growing a healthy church, and it keeps the elders and evangelists from becoming distracted and overwhelmed.
What are some areas of practical service that deacons can carry out? Here are a few ideas, although this list could include many more:
- If you own a church building, you may need deacons to oversee cleaning, facility maintenance, event setup, event breakdown, parking, and maintenance of any green space areas.
- Ushering and seating
- Worship ministry
- Church finances
- Social media and website
When deacons serve in these practical areas, it enables elders and evangelists to focus on their spiritual leadership responsibilities. If we don’t have deacons to help in these areas, we may become overloaded and burdened.
We find an example of this in Acts 6, when some widows from the church in Jerusalem were being overlooked in the distribution of food. The twelve apostles had similar leadership responsibilities as elders and evangelists. Rather than tackling the food distribution themselves, they appointed a team of seven men to handle this practical challenge. This allowed the apostles to continue focusing on prayer and the ministry of the Word—and it worked!
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
Let us learn from the early church leaders’ example, that appointing deacons, inviting team leadership, avoiding micro-management, and sharing responsibility with others helps the church—and its leaders!—to thrive.
Here is the biblical direction given to us to regarding deacons:
Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 3:8-13
As elders and evangelists, let’s appoint deacons in our churches, entrusting them with specific responsibilities. As they carry out their duties, we should remain in touch, encouraging, equipping, and advising them as needed. This practice will protect our own hearts from becoming overburdened and allow us to focus primarily on the spiritual leadership God wants us to carry out. It will also ensure that the church’s many needs are fully met, so the church can remain healthy in every area.