The Role of the Deacon
- Thursday, December 11, 2003
There is another practical consideration. When handling money, it should be required that at least two deacons are involved. This was required by the Jews of those who collected
money for the poor. It does two things. (1) It removes the temptation to take money from the collection for personal matters. (2) It removes any cause for accusation against the deacon if there is ever a problem because there are witnesses to his faithfulness. It is good to do these things openly so there is no question about honesty or unfairness with the use of church funds.
Finally, a church should have no more deacons than there are men qualified to serve. One of the most serious problems a church can have is deacons or a pastor-elder who does not meet the qualifications set forth in Scripture.
This is a form of disobedience to God in electing the unqualified or not taking seriously the dictates of Scripture in these matters. It results in at least two problems. (1) It is a bad example to the younger members. Disregarding Scripture in this way says to them that it is not really important to obey Scripture in other ways. (2) It results in weak spiritual leadership for the church. If the church has mediocre leaders, it will become a mediocre church. The requirements for a deacon are very demanding because God wants the church to be a "holy nation" (1 Pet. 2:9), ones who have "purified your souls in obeying the truth" (1 Pet. 1:22).
Deacons have a very important role in the church. Although they are "servants" and their ministry is a ministry of service, the fact that they have been chosen demonstrates they are respected by the brethren. Their role is second in importance only to the pastor-elders. The pastor(s) are given by the Lord the responsibility of teaching the Word. Without this ministry the church will not prosper spiritually. Part of the duty of the deacons is to
relieve the pastor-elders of responsibilities that would keep them from doing their best in studying the Word, spending time alone with God in prayer, and teaching the Word
effectively. This is the reason the first deacons were chosen (Acts 6). Deacons still need to work closely with the pastor-elder(s) to make sure that this problem does not arise.
Many churches are hampered in their spiritual development because the pastor-elder has "laid down" the Word of God to do other things.
The deacon is not described as a "ruler" in the church. However, as one who assists the "overseers" of the church and is appointed by the church to fulfill specific ministries,
the deacon is by virtue of his office a leader of the church.
His value to the church is in his service. He is not to be the pastor-elder's supervisor but his helper. Deacons are not to form a board to rule the church; that is not their job
description. They are to lead the church in ministry.
Churches who have such deacons will be blessed indeed. Pastors who have such deacons to help them will be better pastors because of it. Deacons who serve well "obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith" (1 Tim. 3:13).
Used by permission of Broadman & Holman Publishers. Excerpted from the book "Who Rules the Church," Copyright 2003 by Gerald Cowen.
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