Deacon Ministry

The following principles summarize our understanding of the teaching of scripture regarding Diaconal ministry in the New Testament Church. The initiation and continuation of this ministry at Coast will be based on these principles.

 

The Office of Deacon: In the New Testament, deacons are the official servant ministers of the church, whose official role is to wisely and compassionately serve the needy members of the church. The word deacon comes from the Greek word diakonos, which is most often translated servant or minister in the New Testament, but is transliterated deacon three times to convey an official title. (John 2:5; Romans 16:1; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 3:12)

 

The Jerusalem Model for Deacons: The “Seven” chosen by the church and appointed by the Apostles to administrate the distribution of food to the widows in the Jerusalem church in Acts 6:1-6 were likely the first deacons, or at least a prototype for later deacons. The faithful ministry of deacons will address the real needs of people and will help protect the overseers’ priority of prayer and the ministry of the Word.

Ministry of Compassion: As individual Christians and in the local expression of the body of Christ, we must show compassion to needy people. (Exodus 34:6; Lamentations 3:22a; Ephesians 2:4-5; Mark 5:19; Luke 10:30-37; Micah 6:8; Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 6:35-37; James 2:13)

Ministry of Stewardship: While the argument can be made that the primary focus of deacon ministry should be on compassion to the needy, it should also be seen in the broader context of service to the body in the faithful stewardship of the church’s finances, facilities, and property.

Deacons may be responsible for anything that’s not related to teaching and shepherding the church. Such duties might include:

  • Facilities: The deacons could be responsible for managing the church property. This would include making sure the place of worship is prepared for the worship service, cleaning up, or running the sound system.

  • Benevolence: Similar to what took place in Acts 6:1–6 with the daily distribution to the widows, the deacons may be involved in administrating funds or other assistance to the needy.

  • Finances: While the elders should probably oversee the financial business of the church (Acts 11:30), it may be best left to the deacons to handle the day-to-day matters. This would include collecting and counting the offering, keeping records, and so on.

  • Ushers: The deacons could be responsible for distributing bulletins, seating the congregation, or preparing the elements for communion.

  • Logistics: Deacons should be available to help in variety of ways so that the elders are able to concentrate on teaching and shepherding the church. [summary by 9Marks]

 

Elders and Deacons: Christ has established two offices in the church, elder and deacon, through which He leads, feeds and cares for the needs of His people. Faithfulness to Christ includes faithfulness the ministry of elders and deacons. (Acts 6:1-6; 20:17, 28; Eph.4:11; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 5:19-20; Titus 1:5-9 Pet.5:1-5)

 

The Necessity of Deacon Ministry: Deacon ministry is a necessary extension of Christ's ministry to His own body. He gifts men to serve in this way and he then blesses the church with the gift of these men. The church can no more do without these men exercising their gifts than a physical human body can do without the eyes, the hands or the feet. To ignore this ministry or cause it to be dysfunc-tional is to handicap the church. (John 13:5-17; Acts 6:1-6; Ro. 12:1-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-28; Eph. 4:15-16; 1 Tim. 3:14)

 

Qualifications for Service: Deacons must meet specific moral qualifications in order to serve, according to 1 Timothy 3:8-13.

 

  • Dignified (worthy of respect)

  • Not double-tongued (trustworthy)

  • Not addicted to wine (not abusing any substance such as drugs or alcohol)

  • Not fond of sordid gain (not greedy; financial integrity)

  • Holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience (living in light of the truth; what we say we believe and what we do match)

  • Above reproach is to live so as to not be found worthy of public shame, disgrace or scorn.

  • Not malicious gossips (not slanderers)

  • Temperate (not self-indulgent, but moderate; self restrained; self-controlled)

  • Faithful in all things (reliable)

  • Husband of one wife (if married, he is “a one woman man”; maintaining singular devotion toward his wife)

  • One who manages his own household well (providing loving leadership of his family; having children in the home who are submissive)

 

Women Who Serve: The discussion of women (or wives) in 1 Timothy 3:11 is a challenging passage to interpret. We cannot be dogmatic, but it seems best to say that this passage does not signify a third office of the church, but rather refers to any women who assist deacons in their ministry, including their wives. Like the deacons, these women should also first be examined to

see that they meet the specified moral qualifications. These women then serve under the direction of the deacons.

 

Establishing Deacon Ministry: The New Testament principles for selecting, examining and establishing qualified deacons in their office based on Acts 6:1-6 and 1 Timothy 3:7-11 must be taken seriously, understood thoroughly and applied faithfully. The following four steps are consistent with the New Testament model. (Acts 6:3-6; 1 Timothy 3:10; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Ro.12:3-8; 1 Cor.12; Eph.4:7-16; 1 Cor.9:19-23; Galatians 6:1-5)

 

  • Presentation: The congregation should prayerfully consider men in the church based on personal knowledge of their moral qualifications, and then recommend these men to the overseers.

  • Examination: The congregation must be actively involved, humbly and prayerfully evaluating the candidates and giving necessary perspective to the overseers. Any objection to a prospective deacon’s character qualifications must be based on scripture, not on subjective opinion. All involved must somehow consider fitness for office without demanding absolute perfection.

  • Selection: Deacon service must be voluntary, not out of compulsion, but with eagerness, looking forward to the rewards promised by God to those who serve well. Candidates should consider all that is known and relevant before pursuing and taking on this new responsibility.

  • Installation: Deacons should be installed in an official and public manner. It is appropriate to lay hands on those who are being installed as a means of publicly recognizing and commissioning them to this ministry. Deacon ministry is not to be constrained by a predetermined limit on the term of service. Rather a deacon should remain in office either until he no longer desires to serve, or until he disqualifies himself according to scriptural requirements.

 

What practical things should a man consider when thinking about this ministry?

 

Desire

The church needs men to serve in this way, yet regardless of how significant the need is, men should not serve unless they desire to do so, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, with eagerness, looking forward to the rewards that God promises to those who serve well.

 

Availability

None of us know what unforeseen events may affect our availability for ministry in the future, however, everyone should count the cost of ministry, considering all that is known and relevant to the decision, seeking practical advice, consulting with those who will be most affected by our decisions, and praying for wisdom, before taking on new responsibilities. In light of this, please consider the following biblical responsibilities and practical requirements of this ministry.

 

Biblical Responsibilities

Study and imitate the ministry and heart of Christ, the ultimate servant; Submit to the leadership of the Overseers; Assess the physical and material needs of the Body; Care for the physically and materially needy in the Body; Administrate & distribute church finances and other resources; Minister to the church and beyond; Exercise additional gifting for the benefit of the body.

 

Practical Responsibilities

Organizing; Evaluating ministry effectiveness; Improving personal ministry skills; Communicating with the overseers and the congregation; Disclosing use of church resources; Guarding against disqualification; Including the ministry of women; Dealing with discouragement.

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Coast Community Church

3303 Harbor Blvd., Suite K - 5/6 Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Phone: (714) 596-0611

coast.pastor@gmail.com

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