Summary: In Acts 6, we see what kind of positive impact the effective ministry of the deacon can have on a local church.
The early church was experiencing phenomenal growth, marvelous miracles, pulsating power, and unlimited blessings. Then, right in the middle of this success story, dissension arose. The Greek speaking widows were being neglected in favor of the Hebrew speaking widows.
The Apostles said that they didn’t need to leave their role as leaders of the fellowship and proclaimers of the Word to deal with this problem. They, therefore, told the congregation to select seven men who were:
1) Faithful - “from among you”
2) Reputable - “who are known”
3) Spiritual - “full of the Spirit”
4) Teachable - “full of . . . wisdom”
5) Responsible - “we will turn this responsibility over to them”
They were to address the conflict by leading the church to serve the needs of the widows in an effective and efficient manner. And this they did. This group of men (the first Deacons) worked well at providing the servant leadership needed to address the problem and get the church back on the road to pleasing God.
It is this that I want to speak about today. I want us to notice what a dynamic impact a good Deacon body can have on a church.
1. The unity of the church will be preserved.
Satan sought to divide the church family. But thanks to the work of these first Deacons, he didn’t succeed. If we are not careful, if he can, Satan will divide our church family, too. But just like the first Deacons prevented the split of the early church in Jerusalem, a good Deacon body that is focused and vigilant about fulfilling their very specialized and important task of protecting the fellowship of the church, can keep the evil one from succeeding.
Sometimes, folks wonder what all the Deacons do. I’ve even heard people criticize Deacons for not doing enough. But the fact is, if they weren’t doing anything, they wouldn’t have been selected to be a
Deacon to begin with. Being a Deacon doesn’t mean a man is to do more in service. It means he has been set aside to a particular service - which is the service of guarding the fellowship of God’s family.
I tell our deacons that they each carry around two buckets - a bucket of water and a bucket of gasoline. Now, in the church, you will encounter two kinds of fire - fires of revival and fires of dissension. A Deacon’s job is to pour gasoline on the fires of revival and water on the fires of dissension; and a wise Deacon does not get his buckets mixed up!
Our Deacons can be far more places at one time than I can. Therefore, they can help me be more aware of issues we might need to address; and they can help me make our folks more aware of what is happening in our church and where we are going as a church.
Through this unique and specialized responsibility, our Deacons can help preserve the unity of our church family, just like the first Deacons did.
2. The challenges of the church will be met.
The early church had not foreseen the challenge associated with their rapid growth. Consequently, they had to deal with a problem.
The problems of today often come upon us because we failed to anticipate the challenges of the future. But with the service of these Deacons, that changed. Working in cooperation with the Apostles, they anticipated the challenges on the horizon and planned accordingly. As a result, a problem was addressed and division in the church was averted.
We must do the same today. A good Deacon body will work with the pastor and staff to anticipate the challenges of the future by gaining God’s vision for the church and leading the congregation to organize today for the challenges of tomorrow. Often the problems of today are a result of failing to plan in the past for the challenges of the future.
A college student sent a letter to his mother prior to the Christmas break. “Dear Mom, I have flunked all my classes. When I come home for the holidays. I will be moving back home. Prepare Pop.” The following week, the student received a letter from his mother which read, “Pop prepared. Prepare yourself!”
A church needs to prepare today for the challenges of tomorrow. A good Deacon body will partner with the pastor and staff to do just that.
3. The focus of the church will be maintained.
As he so often does, Satan tempted God’s people to focus inward instead of outward. If he could have succeeded in getting the church to focus within, he would have won a great victory, but he didn’t succeed.
The deacons met the need by mobilizing the church for ministry and the focus remained on knowing Christ and making Him known to a lost and dying world. Through the Deacons assisting the Apostles, the church kept its harvest vision.