Summary: All disciples of Jesus are supposed to be servants, but some disciples will be qualified for special service as deacons. In this sermon, we learn about the qualifications of deacons and why they are important, and we all are challenged to be faithful servants.
A. Once there was a rather grumpy deacon who was teaching a Bible class full of boys and was endeavoring to impress upon them the importance of living the Christian life.
1. The deacon asked the boys: “Why do people call me a Christian?”
2. After an awkward moment of silence, one youngster said, “Maybe people call you a Christian because they don’t know you very well.”
3. Ouch! Sometimes the truth hurts!
4. I’m thankful that this can’t be said of any of our deacons!
B. Let’s talk about deacons this morning.
1. Do you know what the qualifications for deacons are and do you know what they do?
2. Here’s a silly announcement I came across: “Nominations are now open for deacons. They must meet these qualifications: Must be able to pass the offering plate with a smile and without spilling it. Must look good in a name tag. Must be driven by a desire to do the stuff no one else wants to do.”
3. That sure sounds trite, doesn’t it? And it is, but such caricatures of the deacon’s role veil the true dignity and significance of the role.
4. Unfortunately, we often put our elders and preachers up on pedestals, but where do we put the deacons?
a. In some people’s minds, they are somewhere down below just dusting the pedestal.
5. Sometimes people assume that deacons are “only deacons,” because they can’t be elders, but that’s not true.
6. Some deacons do transition to the role of elder when they are older, but most deacons remain deacons, because their gifts and talents are more suitable for that kind of service.
C. The role of deacon is not one relegated to the life of a holy “go-fer” who performs the tasks others view as insignificant or non-spiritual.
1. Although deacons do perform many of the “nuts and bolts” ministries of the church, God sees their role, and all forms of service, as worthy of respect and honor.
2. You might be surprised to find that the qualifications for deacon and elder are very similar, which confirms that God wants all those who serve in His church to exhibit the character of Christ Himself.
D. An important point that I want to make throughout the lesson this morning is this: In the kingdom of God, all disciples are to be servants, but some will be qualified for special service, as deacons.
1. My aim is to challenge all disciples of Jesus to be busy serving the Lord.
2. Before we look at what Paul’s letter to Timothy says about deacons, let’s explore some other general biblical information about deacons.
I. DEACONS: THEIR INTRODUCTION
A. A study of Scripture reveals that there is not a great deal of information given about deacons in the New Testament.
1. We are not sure when or where they were first appointed.
2. We also aren’t given many specifics about their responsibilities.
B. In Acts chapter 6, we witness the appointment of some men for an important service.
1. Some commentators have called these men “deacons” even though they are not specifically given that name in the text.
2. However, name or no name, these men were functioning in the role of deacons (special servants), and are therefore a good model for our deacons today.
3. What we find in Acts 6 is that the apostles discovered that there were church members who were going hungry.
a. This ministry of food distribution needed some caring individuals who would be attentive and responsible to the needs of others in this ministry.
b. But the apostles couldn’t focus on this task, because they were acting as overseers of the Lord’s young church, and they needed to stay focused on their primary ministry of prayer and the Word of God.
c. So, guided by the Lord, they instructed the church to select seven men to serve tables.
4. The word “serve” that used here in Acts 6 is the Greek word diakoneo, which is the verb form of the noun that is sometimes translated as “deacon.”
5. We notice that the men who would serve as these special servants had to meet specific qualifications: They had to have a good reputation, be full of the Holy Spirit, and wisdom.
a. But you might ask, “Can’t anyone pass out food?” Well, the apostles didn’t think so!
b. They wanted responsible, godly, honest men to carry out this ministry.
6. So 7 men were chosen and they carried out the ministry and what was the result?
a. The widows were fed, the teaching ministry of the apostles continued, and the church grew.
C. We hear nothing else in the book of Acts about deacons, but when the apostle Paul wrote his letters, he often greeted the deacons, and in some of his letters, he gave instructions about the selection of deacons.