Monday, March 08, 2010


Many Christians agree that the deacon ministry was born in Acts 6 when seven were selected to help the Apostles in caring for the church’s widows. The qualification at that time was “to be full of the Spirit and wisdom” (v.3). Later, the Apostle Paul wrote some more specific qualifications that dealt with the character of the candidate rather than gifts or talents (1 Timothy 3).

Biblical deacons are called to assist the pastor in the physical and spiritual needs of the congregation. This concept can be found in the Old Testament as well. In Exodus 18 Moses takes his Father in Law’s advice and sets up one counselor for every ten people. He organized the groups of ten into fifties, hundreds and thousands. Moses was available to consult in the most difficult cases.

Some churches have a formal process of deacon selection and will ordain qualified candidates. Other churches, particularly smaller ones, lack of a formal selection process but rely on deacons who rise to the task and do the job without the title. These people are often Sunday school teachers and/or senior saints who have been around the church for a long time.

A strong deacon ministry will extend the pastor’s capacity to do pastoral ministry to a great degree. Some churches will divide up the church families and assign each deacon a group. Others organize deacon ministry teams that are assigned specific tasks. Some tasks include benevolence, ordinances, hospital and shut-in visitation, etc.

Another organizational strategy is to use small group leaders as deacons. The advantage here is that the small group leader meets with the group regularly, knows the members well, and is positioned to provide immediate care in a crisis.

However the ministry is organized it is important to remember that an effective deacon ministry that blesses the church and supports the pastor is one of humble service rather than haughty superiority.

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45 (NIV)

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