Thursday, October 15, 2009


Deacons in the church carry an important role in the church. The role is loosely based on the men in the Jewish synagogues who were charged with taking care of the physical matters of the synagogue building. In the Bible we first see Deacons as a role created to solve a problem concerning the feeding of widows. Later on, in 1 Timothy, we see the role of Deacon as a formalized part of the structure of the church.

Deacon means servant. Literally it means "dirty feet people" as in the slaves who cleaned the dirty feet of ancient sandal wearing people. It has become popular to say that if you are serving in the church then you are a deacon. I have some concerns about this populist thought. Here are a couple comments concerning Deacons.

One, they serve under the authority of the elders. The elders appointed the deacons who were full of the Spirit to administer food to the elderly in Acts 6.

Secondly, it is an appointed office that carries authority. The authority isn't about spiritual matters or policy decisions, that's the elder's role. The authority concerns the allocation and distribution of the resources of the church so the congregation is well cared for.

Thirdly, it is a position that requires good character. The requirements in 1 Timothy are not an exhaustive list, after all, do you want a Deacon that doesn't show the Fruit of the Spirit? It is an emphasis on the character of the person. You need to be able to trust the people in charge of the resources of the church.

Being a Deacon is more than just taking care of the physical matters of the church. They are the front lines to making sure people in the congregation are being taken care of. It can be much more pastoral in nature than we realize. After all, isn't taking the food to the widows a pastoral ministry? They are responsible for developing systems so the congregation can be healthy and give a thriving testimony of God's community here on earth.

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