This coming Sunday evening at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, we will ordain two new men to the deacon ministry (the men aren’t new–they’re in their 30s–but they are new as deacons to ARBC. Just to be clear.).
Why do we do this? What all is involved? Allow me to list off a number of biblical reasons for this:
First, Christ is the Lord of the church, and he has given two offices in the church: pastors/elders and deacons (1 Timothy 3:1-13). Christ has ordained these offices for the governance of His people.
Secondly, Christ calls them through His people, as signified by the laying on of hands (2 Timothy 1:6; Acts 6:1-4). In the biblical cases, God used the apostles, His called spiritual leaders of the church, to set aside servants to meet the physical needs of the church; i.e., deacons. The pastors/elders of the church must lead God’s people into understanding the biblical qualifications of a deacon in leading their people to prayerfully and carefully surrender to the Spirit’s leadership in selecting–not to the worldly understanding that so assaults our thinking.
Thirdly, we set aside a specified time for the ordination service. No, this is not prescribed specifically in the Bible. Yet, every time in Acts that a missionary is sent, they prayed, even fasted, and sent them. The word for ‘sent’ is the word ‘ekballos’ which means to thrust out. This shows the force with which God’s called are sent into the world–not a passive event!
Fourthly, we remind the currently serving deacons and inform the incoming deacons that they are not the power brokers in the church, but humble servants set apart by God to (at the risk of repeating myself) facilitate the spiritual needs of the church so the pastors may focus primarily (though not exclusively) on prayer and ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4). Deacons who see themselves more as a board than as a ministry confuse the role of pastor/elder with deacon. Deacons serve by helping be the eyes and ears for the pastor. Along this same line, deacons serve as counsel for the pastors. They do not run the church–they run to Christ in serving the church.
Lastly, our deacons ‘wait tables’ (look at Acts 6:1-2) by taking care of an ‘x’ amount of families who belong to our church. God has grown our church, and with more family necessitates more deacons to connect with their families. They will be available for prayer, for emergencies, for counsel (for which we shall help equip them for this task). But their main issue to a Spirit-filled ‘there-ness’–a willingness to be available as a contact, connection, and instrument of care.
When you think of a deacon, what comes to mind? Hopefully, ARBC can continue to set a standard reflective of biblical deaconship.
Yes, I just made that word up. But may we continue in a legacy that stretches all the way back to the early church itself.