DEACON MINISTRY: H.E.L.P
1 Timothy 3:13 promises, “Those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”
The Biblical Context for Deacons:
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
The Biblical Qualifications of Deacons
1 Timothy 3:8-13
Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
Paul identifies nine qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8-12:
Dignified (v. 8): This term normally refers to something that is honorable, respectable, esteemed, or worthy, and is closely related to “respectable,” which is given as a qualification for elders (1 Tim. 3:2).
Not double-tongued (v. 8): Those who are double-tongued say one thing to certain people but then say something else to others, or say one thing but mean another. They are two-faced and insincere. Their words cannot be trusted, so they lack credibility.
Not addicted to much wine (v. 8): A man is disqualified for the office of deacon if he is addicted to wine or other strong drink. Such a person lacks self-control and is undisciplined.
Not greedy for dishonest gain (v. 8): If a person is a lover of money, he is not qualified to be a deacon, especially since deacons often handle financial matters for the church.
Sound in faith and life (v. 9): Paul also indicates that a deacon must “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” The phrase “the mystery of the faith” is simply one way Paul speaks of the gospel (cf. 1 Tim. 3:16). Consequently, this statement refers to the need for deacons to hold firm to the true gospel without wavering. Yet this qualification does not merely involve one’s beliefs, for he must also hold these beliefs “with a clear conscience.” That is, the behavior of a deacon must be consistent with his beliefs.
Blameless (v. 10): Paul writes that deacons must “be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless” (v. 10). “Blameless” is a general term referring to a person’s overall character. Although Paul does not specify what type of testing is to take place, at a minimum, the candidate’s personal background, reputation, and theological positions should be examined. Moreover, the congregation should not only examine a potential deacon’s moral, spiritual, and doctrinal maturity, but should also consider the person’s track record of service in the church.
Godly wife (v. 11): According to Paul, deacons’ wives must “be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things” (v. 11). Like her husband, the wife must be dignified or respectable. Secondly, she must not be a slanderer or a person who goes around spreading gossip. A deacon’s wife must also be sober-minded or temperate. That is, she must be able to make good judgments and must not be involved in things that might hinder such judgment. Finally, she must be “faithful in all things” (cf. 1 Tim. 5:10). This is a general requirement which functions similarly to the requirement for elders to be “above reproach” (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6) and for deacons to be “blameless” (1 Tim. 3:10).
Husband of one wife (v. 12): The best interpretation of this difficult phrase is to understand it as referring to the faithfulness of a husband toward his wife. He must be a “one-woman man.” That is, there must be no other woman in his life to whom he relates in an intimate way either emotionally or physically.
Manage children and household well (v. 12): A deacon must be the spiritual leader of his wife and children.
A Biblical Work of Deacons
Some duties that deacons might be responsible for at Compass South:
Operations and Facilities: The deacons currently could be responsible for managing set up and tear down and operations of our weekly gathering. This would include making sure the place of worship is prepared for the worship service and cleaned up. We need some deacons to serve on Sundays to make sure things operate well and work with our serve teams.
Care and Benevolence: Similar to what took place in Acts 6:1–6 with the daily distribution to the widows, the deacons could help serve and administrate funds and other assistance to the needy. We need some deacons to serve those who are presented to us with immediate needs and work with our Care Ministry.
Capital Campaigns and Finances: While the elders are given the oversight of the financial business of the church (Acts 11:30), deacons can handle the day-to-day matters. This would include collecting and counting the offering, keeping records, and reporting. We need some deacons to serve by spending time with the help of accounting and working with out finance team.
Ministry and Logistics: Deacons could be available to help in variety of ways so that the elders are able to concentrate on teaching and shepherding the church. This would include securing transportation, taking care of the things the church owns, and helping with events. We need deacons to help take care of things the church is doing and work with the ministry staff and ministries.
“Whereas the office of elder is often ignored in the modern church, the office of deacon is often misunderstood. Based on the New Testament, the role of the deacon is mainly to be a servant. The church needs deacons to provide logistical and material support so that the elders can focus on the Word of God and prayer.” - Merkle
“First, good deacons serve discreetly because of their deep-seated humility. The public nature of preaching and teaching means pastors get greater amounts of attention and encouragement (and criticism, with it). Doing diaconal work well requires a kind of humility, ready to forfeit the attention and affirmation others may receive. By all means, we should regularly encourage our deacons, but the very nature of their ministry means that many will not see or fully appreciate what they do.” - Piper
The deacon must be attending and active in the body in order to be available. Ministry is about proximity. Without regular proximity, the deacon will not know the needs of the people or be able to hear the complaints that might arise. Deacons are willing workers and cheerful givers.
“The role of a deacon is “hold”. Like a brother who will grab a corner of the load and help carry, the deacon lightens the load. They have to be available to take hold of things. They have to be faithful to keep taking hold of things. They must be mature to handle well what they are given to take hold of and be responsible for. They must recognize that they are holding the mysteries of the faith and do it with a clear conscience. Deacon ministry is not a role of prominence. It is not a directional leadership role. Elders serve by leading and deacons lead by serving.”
The deacons of our church will be men who work with our elders, pastoral staff, ministry staff, and serve teams. They will provide an extra set of hands and eyes as the church grows to care for people and help the church function with effectiveness and excellence.