Biblical Leadership (pt.3)

Deacons And Elders

There seems to be no small controversy over the idea of Deacons and Elders in the denomination of which I am a part. However, there also seems to be much confusion over the ministry of the Diaconate in the broader church context. In my own denomination, this confusion and quarreling rise because of those who are no longer satisfied with the status quo belief about deacon ministry (i.e. the place, authority, etc. of deacons in the local church context). As a result of calling the church to a Biblical pattern of leadership, some have responded negatively. This isn’t overly surprising given the fact that Biblical reformation never goes over well with those who are more in love with their tradition than the teaching of Scripture. Having dealt with the idea of the local church presbytery here and here I want to next deal with the ministry of those servants called, “Deacons”.

I find it of great interest that while the Bible explicitly spells out the duties of the office of the pastor which is partly relayed through the titles used to describe them; i.e. presbyters (elders), pastors (shepherds), overseers (bishops). The deacon, who is the second recognized office of the local church, only lists general duties. These general duties are seen in Acts 6 where the Apostles ask the congregation to choose men who can be appointed to the task of overseeing the daily distribution of the widows so they can devote themselves to the preaching, teaching, prayer and discipling ministry of the church. This is the model that the early church adopted for the Diaconate and continues to be the expressed need of the Diaconate today. The ministry of the Diaconate should compliment the local church Presbytery and free them up to preach, teach, disciple and pray (which isn’t to say this is necessarily all that the presbytery should be doing but it is the bulk). Instead, the Bible deals with the character of the men chosen, not their specific duties. It is my belief that this is the case because of the fluid nature of the office (e.g. they serve at the discretion and direction of the local church presbytery and congregation). The office of Deacon then, requires much flexibility in ministering to the needs of both the local congregation and the presbytery. With all of that said, I would like to offer several suggestions for Diaconate ministry that are exactly that, suggestions.

How then should the Diaconate function? The Diaconate should compliment the local church Presbytery and free them up to preach, teach, disciple and pray (which isn’t to say this is necessarily all that the presbytery should be doing but it is the bulk). Instead, the Bible deals with the character of the men chosen, not their specific duties. It is my belief that this is the case because of the fluid nature of the office (e.g. they serve at the discretion and direction of the local church presbytery and congregation). Clearly stated, a Deacon cannot be rigid in their expectations of what ministry will necessarily look like because it may change drastically during their time of service. This is why it is imperative that the Diaconate be very flexible in ministering to the needs of both the local congregation and the presbytery. What should the local church Diaconate do? I would like to offer several suggestions for Diaconate ministry that are exactly that, suggestions. I do hope you will find them helpful.

 

  • Finance Oversight
  •          Care For The Poor
  • Visitation Of Sick
  •          Visitation Of Widows
  •         Visitation And Counseling For Those Grieving
  •          Oversight Of Prayer Ministry
  • Oversight Of Building And Grounds
  • Offer Wisdom To The Local Church Presbytery In Order To Deal With Issues

In this series of very short and inexhaustive posts, I have sought to get us thinking Biblically about Church leadership. Whatever else we do as a local church, may we seek to be faithful to the teaching of Scripture; conforming and molding ourselves to the Word of God so that God will be glorified in His Church.

Soli Deo Gloria

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s