The Ministry of Deacons

In Philippians 1:1, among those Paul addressed were  “ deacons .” Deacons comprise a unique office and  function in the local church. God organized the  church to have deacons—special servants to carry out  certain tasks within the work and organization of the  local church.

Humanity has craved power. Jesus observed this  as a problem of the Gentiles:

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know  that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion  over them, and they that are great exercise authority  upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but  whosoever will be great among you, let him be your  minister; And whosoever will be chief among you,  let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man  came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and  to give his life a ransom for many [Matt. 20:25-28].

Yet, Jesus recognized servanthood as greatness. Therefore, deacons are special because of their ministry in the kingdom.

While some deacons in the brotherhood have a  title, but no job assignments, others have job assignments  but are not carrying out their duties. In each extreme case,  deacons and the congregation must cooperate to fulfill  each role in the congregation.

The term deacon simply means “servant” or  “minister.” Their role pertaining to leadership is unique  in that on one hand, they are not leaders. While they  must have certain characteristics to serve in a particular  function (cf. 1 Tim. 3:8-13), they are simply servants  with responsibilities. On the other hand, they are  leaders, because their responsibility (and the leadership  inherent within such responsibility) makes them leaders.  For example, in Acts 6, the apostles encouraged the  congregation in Jerusalem to select seven “servants”  to be responsible for the daily ministry to the widows,  solving the problem that had arisen in the process. Did  they serve? Of course, they did. Yet, did they lead? The  position in which the apostles placed them inherently  carried with it responsibility, and with such, an amount  of leadership. Such is also true concerning elders and  deacons in the local church setting.

To show such is true, deacons are to involve the  congregation in their work, not simply do the work  themselves. Proper delegation is very important in not  only fulfilling the work of the church, but also executing  proper organization in the entire body of Christ working  as a single unit. When Paul described the church as  a body in First Corinthians 12, he did so recognizing  the importance of every single individual member.  Therefore, elders, deacons and ministers are not to do all  the work of the church. Deacons especially must involve  the members in their work.

Deacons must exercise responsibility. One cannot  be a deacon without understanding responsibility and  dependability. The church will greatly benefit when  congregations appoint deacons who understand these and  exercise them in fulfilling their appointed roles.

Therefore, while the seven men of Acts 6 were not  necessarily deacons, they do serve as a model for such  an office. When the church properly utilizes deacons  and they work diligently under the supervision of the  elders, great things will happen! “ And the word of God  increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in  Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests  were obedient to the faith ” (Acts 6:7).

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