Summary: Message for a Deacon Ordination Service - Why deacons?
Acts 6:1–4 (NKJV)
Brother Sharber, our former pastor, a number of years ago was explaining to me the difference between the pastor and the deacon. Both are charged with doing good. Doing good for the church and doing good for the community. Whereas the pastor was paid for doing good, the deacon, however, was good for nothing.
Deacons, by their very title, are called to serve. In the NT, the Greek word used is "diakonos." This word is translated in some places as “deacon” and in other places; it is translated as “servant.” The verb form of the word is translated “to serve.”
In the apostles day, when the church was newborn, there was a need for servants to assist in the administration or ministry of meeting the needs in the church. Pentecost had come in chapter 2 and the church was growing. Up to this point the church was mostly Jewish. They met and worshiped at the temple as well as in homes. Persecution of the new church was just starting. At the church, there were two groups of Jews. The Hebrew or Herbronic Jews – these were the native Jews, those born and raised in Palestine and spoke mostly Aramaic. The other group was the Hellenist or Grecian Jews. These were Jews that were part of the Diaspora and returned to their homeland – they were mostly Greek speaking Jews
Acts 6:1a (NKJV) Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying,
A growing church. Isn’t that wonderful!
Acts 2:41 (NKJV) Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
Acts 4:4 (NKJV) However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
5,000 was just the number of men, it did not include the women or children so this number could have easily have been doubled or tripled. But when a church grows, there are problems. Who is going to do duty in the nursery, who is going to teach the children. Who is going to visit all the sick, and minister to those in need? In that early church, they had those problems and some cultural divisions to deal with as well.
Acts 6:1 (NKJV) Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
There were problems between the Grecian and Native born Jews. No surprise here. Even outside the church community there were problems. These were not racial problems for the Jewish community stayed within their own bloodlines more than any other culture – this true even today. However, The Native born Jews were “more pure,” more traditional. The foreign born Jews were “liberal.” The native born held tightly to the ancient traditions. The foreign born had new ways and customs
The Native born had their traditional hymns and songs. The foreign born were more contemporary. There was friction between the traditional folk and the contemporary people. Any of this sound familiar? There is an old saying, the more things seem to change, the more they are really the same. We have these same problems today. And one group was not being cared for like the other.
Now here is the problem: The Apostles were not preaching, they were not attending to the Word. They were putting out fires. You can image the squabbles that were happening. Unity in the church had to maintained and the apostles couldn’t do it all themselves.
Acts 6:2 (NKJV) Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.
So the apostles call a church meeting. “We cannot serve tables and fulfill all that God has called us to do. We cannot do it all.” “Tables” in context has a meaning which included much more than just putting food on the table for people to eat. Serving tables did not mean they were waiters. Serving Tables was a term use to mean a place of administration, to manage the distribution of food and other supplies. It was also a term used to manage money, so in a since the table served as banks. Serving Tables meant to administer or manage a program or ministry.
The Apostles could not manage everything, and still preach the gospel. As a pastor, boy do I get that. I understand in real terms the reality of what they were saying. What if I had to manage all the things that goes on in the church. To be the treasurer and function as the finance committee. To be the Sunday school director and manage all the discipleship training, to be the one to set up and prepare for the Lord’s supper and fill the pool for baptism. If spent all that time doing all the administrative functions of the church, when would I prepare messages, when would I tend to the flock, council and guide our members. Not to speak of the time I council with non-members. If I had to do everything, my sermons would never amount to much. I need men who are capable of performing these administrative tasks, men who are unafraid to get their hands dirty. So the apostles came up with a plan: