Sunday School: Deacons (Pt. 2: What Do Deacons Do, and How Our Faithful Friends Do Deacons)
Big Picture: Elders lead ministry, deacons facilitate ministry, the congregation does
ministry. Deacons facilitate congregational ministry under the leadership of the elders.
Deacons do not make “direction-setting” decisions. That is the New Testament model,
and that biblical clarity in deacons’ role and function is invaluable for promoting peace
and unity in the church.
Three arguments for not having the deacons meet together as a board:
1. Boards, like committees, are inefficient.
2. Getting clogged in committees can discourage a deacon.
3. A deacon board can be easily pitted against an elder board.
Deacons: Shock-Absorbers and Servants
Selection: Churches should select deacons primarily for their track record of
peacemaking, and only secondarily for administrative expertise.
Control: The idea of deacons as shock-absorbers stands in stark contrast to deacons
running their own ministry fiefdoms in the church. How can churches avoid raising up
deacons who have territorial fiefdoms? Consider giving deacons limited terms of service
(say, three years), after which another individual must rotate into the position. This
discourages ministry monopolies and forces deacons to be continually training their
replacements. In addition, elders should teach deacons that they do not “own” areas of
ministry; rather, deacons facilitate congregational ministry under the leadership of the
Communication: Elders can also equip deacons to be shock absorbers by regularly
communicating with them. They should communicate with them concerning their specific areas of ministry. They should communicate with them concerning the direction the elders are leading the church generally. Most diaconal ministries will at least
occasionally run up against direction-level decisions that need to go to the elders.
Perhaps assign each deacon to an elder who regularly communicates what the elders
are deciding in their meetings. The elders can then take direction-level issues in the
deacon’s work back to the larger body of elders as needed. Elders lead ministry,
deacons facilitate ministry, the congregation does ministry. That is the New Testament
model, and that biblical clarity in deacons’ role and function is invaluable for promoting
peace and unity in our congregations.
More in Sunday School: Deacons
March 10, 2019Sunday School: Deacons (Pt. 3: What We Will Do)
February 17, 2019Sunday School: Deacons (Pt. 1: What Does The Bible Say?)