Summary: The Bible tells us very little about what Deacons were and what they did. And when these men do their jobs correctly they can become the most important leaders in the Church. What should a deacon do? And how does he become so important to God?
OPEN: Back in 1964 Leicester Hemingway (the little brother of author Ernest Hemingway) made a decision. He was tired of following the rules of human governments and so he decided create his own kingdom. He built an 8 by 30 foot floating bamboo platform 7 miles off the coast of Jamaica and anchored it to the ocean floor with a Ford engine block.
Hemingway bragged to reporters: "I can stand on the platform, walk around on it and salute the flag…all of which I do periodically. There are no taxes here, because taxes are for people not smart enough to start their own countries."
But apparently, Hemingway wasn’t smart enough to keep his country together. Part of the country was destroyed by fishermen in search of scrap wood; the rest sank in a storm.
APPLY: There are several possible lessons to be learned from this story, but the one that appeals to me is this: if you want things done YOUR way… start your own kingdom.
And that’s just what God did.
With the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus God established the Kingdom we know of as the church and He set it up just the way He wanted it run.
According to what we can see out of Scripture, the local church was set up to be taken care of by at least 3 types of servants:
· Preachers (like myself)
· Elders (like Jim, Dave and Don)
· And Deacons (presently, Wayne, Charlie, and Dave B.)
As I’ve pointed out in the last couple of sermons, the responsibilities of the 1st two are clear
· The job of the Preacher is to preach and teach
· The job of the Elders is to pastor/shepherd the flock
But when it comes to the deacons --many churches struggle with what to do with them. And part of the reason for this is that the Bible is a little vague about what deacons do.
You see, the word Deacon comes from the Greek “Diakonos”.
And Diakonos simply means “servant”.
Many times in Scripture, the word applies to the general description of servants..
· When Jesus turned the water into wine, his mother instructed the servants (diakonos) of the house to do whatever Jesus told them to do. (John 2:5)
· In some of His parables – Jesus spoke about good servants and bad servants (diakonos)
· Romans 13:4 Paul tells us that pagan rulers are used by God as his diakonos/servants
Then there’s the times when God uses the word to describe each and every Christian’s responsibilities
· Jesus said every Christians who wants to please Him must be His servant/diakonos (Jn 12:26)
· And that if anyone wanted to be great in His kingdom they must become servants/diakonos of all (Mt 20:26, 23:11, etc).
The word is used widely throughout the New Testment to simply talk of someone being a servant.
But then, there are a few (very few) texts that talk about a group of men who perform SPECIFIC responsibilities within the church.
· Here in Acts 6 we find seven men being selected to be deacons to take care of the needs of the Grecian widows in the Early church.
· And then in I Timothy 3:8-13 we find these words:
“Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.”
And that’s pretty much it.
Those two texts tell us about all we know about Deacons in the early church.
As a result, churches have tended to not know quite what to do with them.
Some churches consider the fact that the role of deacons is to “serve.”
Well, how can we have these men serve?
I know! We’ll have them SERVE communion and take up the offering.
And that’s just about all those men get to do.
These churches select Deacons so that they know who will sit down in the front row each Sunday and complete those basic tasks.
Other churches take the Deaconship to the other end of the spectrum.
They think: “If these men are going to have a position of responsibility in the church… we should give them some major authority!”
Thus, in some denominational churches that means creating a “Deacon Board” where the Deacons perform the role of Biblical Elders – managing and overseeing the affairs of the local church.