Sunday School: Deacons (Pt. 3: What We Will Do)
Introduction: A review of the processes already in place within the New City constitution, and through our recent process of installing an elder. (Key Constitution section: Article 6)
Key Takeaways from Our First Two Lessons
1) What is the biblical role of deacons? (1 Tim. 3:8-13, Acts 6:1-6, Phil. 1:1, Rom. 16:1)
Answer: The biblical role of deacons is to take care of the physical and logistical needs of the church so that the elders can be released to concentrate on their primary calling: devoting themselves to the ministry of the word and prayer.
Helpful “Big Picture” Statement of well-oiled Church Government: Elders lead ministry, deacons facilitate ministry, the congregation does ministry.
Why We Prefer the “Task-Specific” Deacon to Deacons With a “Roving Commission”
1) Giving a broad mandate to deacons doesn’t fit well with the proto-deacons of Acts 6, who were given a very specific task.
2) Giving a broad mandate to deacons inevitably leads to direction-level decision making, eventually straying from the leadership of the elders.
3) Giving a broad mandate to deacons is inefficient and confusing.
4) Giving a broad mandate to deacons means the deacons (if a church has more than one) will almost by necessity need to meet regularly to divide up tasks. This creates a de facto secondary leadership committee, easily pitted against the elders.
5) Assigning deacons to appropriate “portfolios” or “specific tasks” is encouraging to a deacon: because they know what to do and can act immediately in their areas. This is more efficient and leaves little room for deacons to butt heads with each other.
6) Assigning deacons to specific portfolios is also more conducive to modelling the “assistant to the elders” aspect of being a deacon, because the deacons receive clear instruction from the elders on how they can best free them up and serve the members.
7) Using the Task-Specific Deacon model prevents over-extending deacons. They do not feel as though they have to facilitate every area in which deacons are given a mandate.
3 Good Questions to Ask When a Church is Considering where Deacons Could be Useful
1) Is there a need that keeps popping up amongst the members as a point of tension that could be alleviated with practical, focused attention?
2) From the elders’ point of view, what are the tasks drawing the most time away from the elder’s primary ministries of teaching the word and prayer?
3) Taking into account church history, how have properly-assigned deacons consistently served the witness of the church?
New City Deacons Statement: The biblical role of deacons is to take care of the physical and logistical needs of the church so that the elders can be released to concentrate on their primary calling: devoting themselves to the ministry of the word and prayer. Deacons do this by faithfully facilitating church service within the membership under the leadership of the elders. They are both servants and “shock-absorbers” in areas of church life where potential disunity may arise.
Who are Deacons: Deacons are members of the church, men or women, who meet the biblical qualifications. They are not necessarily the most skilled person in the church at a certain task. “Above reproach” character in line with 1 Timothy 3 is the greater concern.
How the Elders Envision Deacons to Be Employed at New City:
1) Deacons at New City will be assigned a particular “portfolio” in which to be “leading servants”. They do not task themselves with finding areas of service. They receive a specific mandate from the Elders, within which they make decisions and facilitate service amongst the members.
2) Within their portfolio, New City deacons will be encouraged to operate without seeking outside approval. In some decision-level cases, they will liaise with elders. This encourages efficiency and effectiveness. Each deacon should form and lead teams of volunteers who love serving Christ’s church together. The deacon’s job is not to do everything himself. More often, their job is to organize, oversee, and keep a project moving.
3) New City deacons will not meet formally with one another. There will be no deacons “board.” There may be occasions when practically, (i.e. ahead of a special event), multiple deacons’ fields of influence collide, and so pre-planning together is prudent.
4) Each individual New City deacon should communicate regularly (but not all-the-time) with a designated elder, who will relay any “direction-level” issues to the rest of the elders. Each deacon will be invited to individually attend 1-2 elder meetings per year to provide a more detailed update on their portfolio, and to receive direction.
5) New City deacon portfolios are not permanent. As the life of the church changes, so may the areas of need. Deacons may be re-assigned to a new portfolio. New deacons may also be appointed to take on new portfolios, and old deacons may resign for a time.
6) While deacons of New City Baptist Church will have a narrow focus of service, they are also official officers of the church. As such, they should own that title. Be a model member by discipling other members, and by making every effort to be present and active at as many Sunday services, prayer meetings, Sunday schools, members meetings, and special church events as possible.
More in Sunday School: Deacons
February 24, 2019Sunday School: Deacons (Pt. 2: What Do Deacons Do, and How Our Faithful Friends Do Deacons)
February 17, 2019Sunday School: Deacons (Pt. 1: What Does The Bible Say?)