Deacons Selection Introduction
Sermon 1 in the series “Church Matters
June 30, 2013
TEXT: This morning, we will read two passages for our text, in Acts 6 and 1 Timothy 3.
Acts 6:1-7 – “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
1 Timothy 3:8-13 – “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Today we’re going to begin the process of selecting deacons—or a deacon, as the case may be.
Deacons have an important place in the church when they follow the Bible role down for them.
Illus. – The story’s told of a long-winded preacher who had a member who fell asleep during every sermon. So the pastor said to his deacon, “Bob, I want you to take this long stick and use it to tap Brother John on the head every time he goes to sleep.”
Deacon Bob was a very conscientious deacon and if the pastor entrusted him with a job, why, doggone it, he was going to make sure he got the job done right!
The very next service, sure enough, John fell asleep again.
Bob grabbed his stick and reached across the aisle and woke him up with a gentle tap on the head.
John aroused for awhile, but within minutes, he was sound asleep again.
This time, Bob tapped him a little harder, hoping to make a deeper impression.
But again, within minutes Brother John was cutting z’s.
So this time, Bob reared back and knocked John so hard, he fell to his knees.
Dazed, John said, “Deacon, hit me again. I can STILL HEAR HIM PREACHING!”
The main butt of that joke is really long-winded pastors, but really, it beautifully captures the essence of the different roles of the preacher and the deacon. The pastor’s main role is to serve the church through the spiritual ministry of the Word and prayer, and the overall oversight of the administration of the church, while the role of the deacon is to take care of the physical responsibilities of the church to function in support of and under the oversight of the pastors.
The Acts 6 passage makes this distinction is very clear. The apostles, who functioned as the pastoral staff of the church in Jerusalem, found themselves being distracted by serving the tables of the widows. So they could devote their full attention to SPIRITUAL ministry, seven deacons were appointed for the PHYSICAL ministry of serving the tables of the widows.
We elected four deacons a few years ago, one of which was Don, who has had to rotate off the deacon board according to the church constitution, which mandates a three-year term, after which a deacon must rotate off for at least one year. For a variety of reasons there have been no qualified men willing to serve since then.
I believe the time has look out into our congregation for men who will serve in this position. For the remainder of our message today, I will go through the Deacon Information Sheet with you, which has been handed out to you…
Deacon Selection Information
Blue text is not in the handout, but are added notes for me to bring out in my presentation.
July 7 (PM) Deacon nomination (secret). Appointment of a Deacon Selection Committee by the Pastor.
July 8-20 Those nominated for deacons fill out and turn in Deacon Questionnaires to Pastor Sligh. Pastor will conduct private consultations with deacon nominees to see if they are willing and eligible to accept the nomination.
July 21 (AM) Announcement of deacon candidates
July 21-27 Church-wide prayer wisdom to choose the right deacons
July 28 (PM) Deacon election
August 4 (AM) Deacon ordination and installation.
QUALIFICATIONS OF DEACONS
1. Biblical Qualifications (1 Timothy 3:8-13)
a. Exemplary personal life
a. “Grave” (v.8) – Dignified, worthy of respect, serious (not foolish, or a clown)
b. “Not double-tongued” (v. 8) – Sincere, not hypocritical, not two-faced
c. “Not given to much wine” (v. 8) – Disciplined in physical appetites, especially in regard to alcohol (Eph. 5:18)
d. “Not given to filthy lucre” (v. 8) – Not greedy or materialistic, or involved in illegal or unethical activities to make money
b. Doctrinally Sound:
a. “Holding the mystery of the faith...” (v. 9) – Doctrinally sound regarding the great doctrines of the Faith, especially the Gospel.
1) The qualifications for pastors in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 are similar to those of the deacons found in the passage we’re looking at now.
2) Verse 9 is one notable difference from the requirements of a pastor.
3) Verse 2 says pastors are to be “apt [i.e., “able”] to teach.”
4) Here in verse 9, deacons are called to simply “hold” to the faith with a clear conscience; but they aren’t called to “teach” that faith).
5) This indicates that deacons do not have an official teaching role in the church, although many deacons are able teachers.
6) It’s a REQUIREMENT for pastors, but not for deacons.
7) Illus. – Which reminds me of the pastor who decided to check up on the Primary Boys Sunday School Class and see how much they were learning.
a) The teacher introduced him, whereupon the Pastor asked a little boy on the front row if he knew who tore down the wall of Jericho.
b) Of course, if you know your Bible it was God, but little Johnny wasn’t too schooled in the Word yet.
c) Scared he was being accused, he cried out, “It wasn't me, I promise, I didn't do it!”
d) The dumbfounded pastor assuming the teacher had not properly taught her class, looked at the teacher who said, "Pastor I can vouch for this Johnny. If he said he didn't do it ,then he didn't do it!"
e) The troubled pastor decided to call a deacon's meeting to deal with the sad neglect of Bible knowledge in the kids’ classes.
f) At the meeting he went over the whole story from start to finish.
g) As he finished his story he waited for the reaction from the deacons.
h) For several minutes they just looked at one another until finally one of the senior deacons said, “Pastor we'll probably never know who tore down that wall, but the less said about it the better. We can take up an offering and rebuild it and let it go at that.”
8) The deacon should certainly be a student of the Word, but his biblical expertise is not his greatest asset as deacon; his servant’s heart is.
b. “…with a pure conscience” (v. 9) – Nothing in his conduct that is glaringly inconsistent with his professed beliefs. I.e., he must not profess one thing but practice another.
c. Tested and Proved:
a. “First proved” (v. 10) – Not a novice (a young Christian); one who has proven his spirituality and maturity and has a track record of service for the Lord.
b. “Blameless” (v. 10) – This the Greek words anenklētoi ontes, meaning “being free from accusation.” I.e., no one can point to a major unresolved sin in his life.
d. Exemplary Family Life
a. Must have wives who are godly examples (v. 11), and are thus…
1) “Grave” – Like their husbands, they are to be dignified, worthy of respect, serious (not foolish, or a clown)
1) “Not slanderers” (v. 12) – In the same way that their husbands are not to be double-tongued, deacons’ wives are not to be given to gossip, backbiting, whisperings, and slander.
(a) “Sober” – self-controlled, circumspect
(b) “Faithful in all things” – Like their husbands, their lives should be a pattern of godliness and integrity, and thus a deacon’s wife should be faithful in all areas of her life, including her family, her tongue, her ministry, her testimony, her dress.
(2) “Husband of one wife” – (v. 12) – Literally a “one-woman man.” See http://sbcvoices.com/divorce-remarriage-and-ministry-what-is-a-husband-of-one-wife/ for what I believe is a balanced view of what this verse means. In short, probably the best interpretation of this difficult phrase is to understand it as referring to the faithfulness of a husband toward his wife. He must be a “one-woman man.” That is, there must be no other woman in his life to whom he relates in an intimate way either emotionally or physically.
(3) “Rules children and house well” (v. 12) – He is the spiritual leader of his family and oversees his family with faithfulness, patience and an even temper. His wife is not in rebellion to his spiritual leadership, and his children are generally obedient and respectful.
(a) This phrase points to another distinction between the qualifications of a pastor and a deacon, again pointing to their different roles.
(b) Like elders in verse 4, deacons must manage their families well.
(c) But when referring to deacons, Paul omits the section in verse 5 where he compares managing one’s household to taking care of God’s church.
(d) Verse 5 says, “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?”
(e) The reason for this omission is because deacons are not given an authoritative position in the church; that function belongs to the pastors.
2. GBC Requirements of Deacons and their Wives
a. Must have been a member of Grace Baptist Church at least six months prior to deacon election date.
b. Must have a good testimony in the community and on the job.
c. Must be faithful to all Sunday church services and a homegroup every week unless hindered by providentially circumstances or work requirements.
d. Must be in full agreement with Grace Baptist Church’s Articles of Faith.
e. Must be faithful in giving of a full tithe to Grace Baptist Church and faithful to participate in a Faith Promise offering commitment to missions.
f. Must agree to fulfill the “Responsibilities of Deacons” (listed below).
g. Must agree to abstain, for testimony’s sake, from all forms of tobacco; nightclubs; establishments which sell sexual products or services; and the wearing in public of revealing, sensuous, or immodest clothing.
h. Must abstain from gossiping and listening to gossip; must be committed to following the steps of Matthew 18 when offended; must be loyal to each member of the church, including the pastoral staff and deacons.
3. Guidelines for Deacon Selection
a. Deacons will serve for one-year terms, for a maximum of three consecutive terms, after which they must rotate off the board for one year before being eligible again for reelection.
b. Deacons have no authoritative role in the church except what is delegated to them by the pastor, or which they may posses by virtue of a ministry they lead (e.g., he would have the same authority over kids if he taught a GrowGroups class that any other teacher would have).
c. They have no authority over the pastor, but are under the authority and supervision of the pastor or pastors in all things. (Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13). They serve as advisers of the pastor if he seeks their counsel (Prov. 11:14; 15:22; 24:6), but the pastor is in no wise bound by their counsel or any decisions they may make.
d. Deacons should be chosen for spiritual reasons and on the basis of their heart for servanthood and ministry. The following factors should not even be considered when nominating or voting on deacon candidates and their wives:
(1) Your personal friendship with them
(2) Their popularity, favor, or good personality
(3) Their rank or position
(4) Their influence in the community
(5) Their economic or salary level
(6) Their race or ethnicity
e. Following are some good things to look for in a deacon candidate besides the aforementioned qualifications and criteria. Obviously, no man and his family will exemplify all these qualities to perfection. However, an extreme lack in any of these, or a general lack of many of them should “put a red flag up” in your mind concerning his fitness to serve as a deacon:
(1) Do he and his wife exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in their lives (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, and self-control)?
(2) Do he and his wife love God and people?
(3) Are he and his wife teachable and humble?
(4) Are he and his wife submissive to authority?
(5) Are he and his wife already involved in the church and its programs, ministries and servant opportunities for the church?
(6) Are he and his wife burdened about seeing lost people come to faith in Christ, and are they committed to evangelism in their daily lives?
(7) Are he and his wife loyal to the pastor, deacons, and others in leaders in the church?
(8) Are he and his family faithful in church attendance unless providentially hindered or required to work?
(9) Are he and his wife walking in God’s ways to the best of their understanding?
(10) Are he and his wife free of bitterness, unscriptural or uncontrolled anger; gossip and evil talk; ungodly habits or impure entertainment; immodest dress?
(11) Do he and his wife have a good marriage? I.e., are they mutually respectful, patient, loving and supportive of one another and do they seek positive ways for conflict resolution.
(12) When they discipline their children, are they self-controlled, kind and loving, as well as firm and decisive?
(13) Are their children generally obedient and under submission?
(14) Are he and his wife honest in their financial dealings, self-controlled over their spending desires and free from materialism and greed?
B. RESPONSIBILITIES OF DEACONS
1. First and foremost, a deacon must be an example of godly servanthood. The Greek word for deacon means “servant.” Hence, his title defines his job description. The office of deacon was instituted in Acts 6 to relieve the pastors and apostles in the Jerusalem church of the mundane tasks of the church so they could be free to devote themselves to the prayer and the ministry of the Word (preaching and teaching). Therefore, a deacon should be at the forefront of all serving-type needs. For example, they should be the first to volunteer to assist in things like setting up for meals at church functions, and then “tearing down” and cleaning up afterwards; clean the toilets if need be; wipe up vomit when a child is sick in the sanctuary (it’s happened before, and a deacon (Jesse Hazelet) jumped right into the job with aplomb and had it cleaned and mopped in five minutes, all while the pastor continued to preach!); assist with baptisms; assist in ushering and greeting; maintain the building and grounds; count the offering; etc. These types of humble tasks are the essence of what it means to be a servant, which is the highest calling of any believer (Matt 20:25-28; Mark 9:35). The key indicator that a person should be selected as a deacon is that he is already serving in these areas because he has a servant’s heart already. Thus, being selected as a deacon (“servant”) is simply a public acknowledgement of what he already is.
2. Be faithful to all church services and a homegroup; faithfully give a full tithe of his income; and faithfully participate in the church’s Faith Promise program by making a yearly commitment and following through on that commitment.
3. Meet for regularly scheduled and specially called deacons meetings. Generally, these would be once a month or bi-monthly at a time convenient for all.
4. Assist the pastor in the administration of the Lord’s Supper and baptisms and assist in greeting visitors, ushering when needed and counting the offering.
5. Visit the sick in the hospital in coordination with the pastor or pastoral staff, when possible (taking into consideration the deacon’s family and work demands).
6. Agree to support the pastor in all things except sin or unscriptural practices; abide by and be in public support of any decision reached by the board of deacons; and to ALWAYS keep confidential information private.
7. Supervise those areas of the ministry delegated to their care by the pastor.