*Article was published in the August edition of The Herald; a monthly publication of Green Hill Baptist Church
August ushers in a very important time in the life and ministry of our church – the nomination and election of deacons. I’d like to take a moment and discuss what the Bible teaches regarding the office of deacon.
First of all, why do we have deacons? According to Acts 6:1-6 the early church was experiencing tremendous growth. They were growing numerically, but so were the number of needs within the congregation. Eventually needs were being neglected; specifically, the needs of widows. The elders realized that it was physically impossible for them alone to effectively and efficiently tend to every need and care for every person. Therefore, the congregation appointed seven men to assist the elders in ministry. Those chosen were given the responsibility to care for the physical needs of the congregation, which freed up the elders to address spiritual needs through prayer and ministry of the word (v. 4). Elders were responsible for praying and preaching, so they alone could not tend to the vast needs of the flock. Certainly, deacons are vital to the ministry of the church.
Secondly, who may serve as a deacon? 1 Timothy 3:8-13 gives specific qualifications for anyone nominated to serve as a deacon. Let’s briefly look at each one:
- He “must be a man of dignity” – this refers to reputation. A deacon should be someone who is honored and respected by those who know him well. What would someone say about him (inside or outside the church)?
- He is “not double-tongued” – this refers to honest speech. A deacon should be trustworthy and credible. He should never say one thing to one person and something else to another.
- He must be “sound in faith and life” – while a deacon is not responsible for teaching, he does have significant influence on the spiritual formation of others. Therefore, he should always be pointing others toward the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- He must be “tested” – he must have proven character. Specifics are not mentioned here, but reputation, doctrinal convictions, and commitment to the church should be tested at the very least. Observing and evaluating a candidate often takes time, so a church should never nominate or elect a person who has not proven himself to be of good character and repute.
- He “must be the husband of only one wife” - marriage is not the context of this verse, so Paul is not saying being married is a prerequisite for serving as a deacon; nor is Paul arguing that someone who is divorced is automatically disqualified. However, if married, he must be committed physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually only to his wife.
- His wife must pursue godliness – the qualifications for a deacon apply also to his wife. Together, they must shoulder the responsibility of parenting and managing the household.
I urge you to begin praying for our deacon nomination and election process. We have a tremendous responsibility before us to choose qualified men who also have a passion to serve. Men, whom we will appoint, will have a vital part in the next chapter of ministry at Green Hill.