Thesis: Deacons are spiritual leaders who share a concern for the needs of the church with the elders and work under their guidance.
1. Earlier this year this congregation appointed its first group of elders.
a. Watershed event in our history.
b. Reflective of our desire to imitate the primitive church.
c. There is more to do, however, because the early church had elders AND deacons! (another vital part of church organization)
2. In just a few moments Ken Parks, one of our elders, will have some important things to say about this.
a. But first, we want to ask: "What is a deacon?" "What are they supposed to do?"
b. We'll be turning to the pages of the NT for an answer.
I. WHAT IS A DEACON? (a Biblical definition):
A. Word simply means a "servant" or "minister" (used 2 ways in NT):
1. General sense--any servant/minister:
a. John 2:5 ........ servants at wedding feast of Cana.
b. Matt. 20:26 ... "let him be your minister (deacon)."
c. Rom. 13:4 ..... Officers of government.
d. Eph. 3:7 ........ Paul calls himself a "deacon."
e. Rom. 15:8 ..... Jesus a "deacon"!
2. Specific sense--an office in the church:
a. Phil. 1:1 ........ Bishops and Deacons.
b. 1 Tim. 3 ........ Qualifications.
B. A Deacon: one who is appointed a servant of the church.
1. Qualifications (1 Tim. 3).
a. As with elders, qual. = must be men of good character.
b. Note "likewise" (v. 8)--points back to v. 2a.
2. Illust. "One of the greatest fallacies we encounter regarding deacons [is] their qualifications. It is rather widely assumed that the requirements or standards for deacons are drastically less than those for elders. That is, we will be comfortable with a deacon who inadequately executes his responsibilities, but would not be satisfied in the least with an elder who fails to function according to the requirements of that office. We tend to wink at some things in deacons that we would never overlook in elders..." (Douglas F. Threet, CBT, Feb. 1980)
3. Qualifications in detail:
a. Character qualifications (8-9):
1) Worthy of respect: "cover term"; of good character.
2) Sincere: not "double-tongued"; trustworthy in what one says.
3) Not indulging in much wine: self-controlled.
4) Not pursuing dishonest gain: loving money to the point of questionable integrity. (Not driven by money)
5) Verse 9: Gospel is a real part of their everyday life.
b. Practical qualifications (10):
1) Must first be tested: "proven.
2) Already showing himself to be a servant of church!
c. Family qualifications (11-12):
1) Wives of good character (11).
2) Husbands of one wife (12a).
3) Manage children/household well (12b).
II. SOME OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING DEACONS & THEIR WORK.
A. The duties of Deacons are not defined by the NT.
1. Significant that 1 Tim. 3 clearly defines work of elders; does not for deacons!
2. What about saying, "Elders = spiritual; Deacons = physical."
a. Not in the NT!
b. Deacons are spiritual leaders also! (look at qual.!)
c. This spiritual/physical division comes from Acts 6 where the 7 were appointed to wait tables--not called Deacons! (Even here the s/p breaks down--Stephen & Philip preach)
B. The relationship of the Elders and Deacons.
1. Significant that Deacons are only mentioned in connection with Elders (Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3).
2. Names suggest Deacons are assistants to the Elders.
a. Elders "eld" (oversee); Deacons "deac" (minister).
b. Not "Co-elders"!
c. GNB: Elders--"Church leaders"; Deacons--"Church helpers."
3. Working definition: "Men who share with the overseers a concern for the total needs of the congregation, and under the guidance of the overseers they aid in relieving those varied needs as able."
1. God's plan for church organization is best. (Amazingly simple!)
a. Calls for Elders to be responsible for the whole flock.
b. Calls for Deacons to assist Elders in various works of ministry.
c. Calls for us to contribute to a coordinated effort under the leadership of Elders and Deacons.
2. Now ...... Ken Parks.