Summary: A message on the role of deacons in the local congregation
SPECIAL DAY: INSTALLATION OF DEACONS
“DISCUSSING THE DEACONS”
Today is a special day. We install some new deacons today. And they get the joy of participating in their first board meeting tonight.
There has been some confusion regarding the role of deacons within the church of Christ. Some come from denominational backgrounds where deacons do the work of the elders. Elders and deacons are not the same thing. They are two different callings and vocations.
But we are not here today to talk about elders. In fact, in our situation her in Martinsville, we are operating without elders at this present time. My prayer is that we will soon be back to full compliance with the New Testament in fairly short order. But as of right now, we have no one who is ready, willing, or able to fulfill the responsibilities of that office. But we do have deacons and they are Biblical in scope and function.
The word in the original language translated as “deacon” or “deacons” is a word that occurs 29 times in the New Testament. Only four of those 29 times is it used to refer to a specific functional office in the church.
The basic meaning of this word is “servant.” It’s often used to describe someone who serves at the table. That’s how it’s used in Jn. 2:5 [the Wedding at Cana] – “His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”
It’s also used to describe those who serve God. It’s used regularly in what can be referred to as the “servant of” passages. Here are some examples. 2 Cor. 6:4 – “Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way.” Eph. 3:7 – “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.” Col. 1:23 – “This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.” Col. 1:25 – [talking about the church, Paul says,] “I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness.”
All Christians should be servants. Our example is our own Lord. The real work of service is seen in the person and work of Jesus Christ. On the night before He went to the cross, Jesus stripped off His outer garments, took a basin of water and towel, and did the work of the lowliest servant. He washed the feet of His disciples – even the feet of one who would betray Him in a short time.
But, even though every Christian should be a servant, some servants are set apart for special ministries in the New Testament church. They are to be distinguished from others who serve.
In our passage this morning, we see a description of these “special servants.” They are called to serve alongside a body of elders to meet the needs of Christ’s church. They have been termed “ministers of mercy” by some writers.