DEACONS: THE SPECIAL SERVANTS
OF THE CHURCH (ACTS 6:1-7)
While preparing this message, I read about a Church which during their Annual Homecoming celebration, would have an active deacon give a testimony about a deceased deacon who had been a special blessing to him and to the church. This particular year, the responsibility of giving the testimony had fallen to “Jack”.
One evening, as he sat at the supper table and thought about his assignment, he asked his wife, “Honey, who are some of our dead deacons?” She quipped back, “Well, Jack, you are, for one!”
Brian Harbour, pastor of FBC, Richardson, Texas tells that one Sunday, one of the Associate Pastors met little Susan in the hall following Sunday School. He asked her, “Susan, what did you learn in Sunday School today?” Susan replied, “We learned how to heal the sick and cast out deacons!”
Some people think that wouldn’t be a bad idea. To them deacons are just a group of men who are over the hill and who keep the pastor over the barrel!
The fact is, the office of deacon is a high and holy one. It is one of only two chosen offices in the N.T. Church. The scriptures make this clear in two places. In Philippians 1:1, as the apostle Paul addressed the church, he mentioned three distinct groups of people: saints, bishops, and deacons. Saints were the rank and file church members. Bishops and deacons were the chosen officers of the church.
And in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 Paul set out the qualifications of these same two officers, because they were the only two officers in the church -- bishops were the Pastors, and deacons, were the special servants of the church.
The emphasis of this passage is on what both the pastor and deacon are to be, rather than on what they are to do. That’s because being always comes before doing! Both Pastors and deacons are always to be men of God, people of character, right with God, their family, and their fellow men in every way.
But, what they are to do may vary from time to time and place to place, depending on the need of the church. But if they are what they are supposed to be, you can be sure they will do what they are supposed to do!
To better understand what a deacon is to do, why they are needed, we need to look at the origin of the office in Acts 6.
Following Pentecost, the N.T. church experienced a time of dynamic growth. Those first disciples who had been with Jesus knew of his “purse” from which he gave support to the poor (John 12:6; 13:29) and they quickly took up the same practice.
But with this explosive growth came problems….things began slipping through the cracks. One of the major problems was the benevolent ministry to the widows. The result was polarization and an unhappy, complaining congregation.
So the Apostles called the congregation together and suggested they choose from among the membership seven men of good reputation with a deep faith in God, administrative ability, and who were filled with the Holy Spirit. These, they suggested, should be appointed over the task of ministering to the poor.
This being done, they were set before the Apostles and when they had prayed, they “laid their hands on them.” The laying on of hands was a formal symbol of their appointment to this duty. It was an ancient practice that symbolized the impartation of the gift of grace.
What was the result of these first deacons being elected? Needs were served; conflict was settled; the apostles (Pastors) were freed up to focus on their primary task, and the number of believers was multiplied greatly.
What happened there, ought to happen in every church and in every age every time deacons are ordained. May it be our prayer that through our deacon ministry that we see these same early church benefits. They saw:
· The unification of the church
· The emancipation of the pastor, and
· The multiplication of disciples.
(1 Tim 3:13 NIV) “Those who have served well (as a deacon) gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.”
Paul is saying you will have two rewards, #1 Deep Respect from the family of God; #2 Personal Assurance that The Lord is pleased with you. I can’t think of a greater reward in this life.
Richard, I know you are humbled in your place of service, that God has chosen you, and His people feel the same way.
I would ask that all our active deacons please stand along with Richard as a show of support, unity, and a reaffirmation to your deacon ministry to our church.
Please answer “I will” after each question.
#1. Will you seek to love The Lord Jesus and follow Him in Lordship above anyone or anything, according to Mark 12:30?
#2. Will you ask God for a “servants heart” according to Matthew 20:26-27?
#3. Will you aspire to practice the requirements of a deacon as found in 1 Timothy 3:10-13?
#4. Will you encourage the Pastor and others in their ministry of leadership as taught in the scriptures: Hebrews 13 and 1 Peter 5:1-2?
#5. Will you practice being the spiritual leader in your home, by loving your wife as Christ loved the church, instruction of The Lord according to Ephesians 5:25 and 6:4?
#6. Will you be a an of prayer as taught in Ephesians 6:18?
#7. Will you seek to lead others to Jesus by witnessing as Christ commanded in Matthew 28:19-20?
#8. Will you be diligent to maintain the unity of this fellowship as called for in Ephesians 4:3?
#9. Will you seek to be a spirit-filled man as commanded in Ephesians 5:18?
#10. And will you uphold the Bible as the inspired, infallible, innerrant Word of God as it claims for itself in 2 Timothy 3:16-17?
Preparation for Laying on of Hands
Church, let me remind you that the laying on of hands, there is no magic in this, no secret oath or mystery. We are not passing on something from an infallible Pope or from the first deacons.
What we are doing is symbolizing your act of believing that God has led as we have called Richard to serve this church as a deacon. We affirm also, that you are setting Richard apart for special service.
Richard, will you come forward. I would invite all ordained men present to join us now for the laying on of hands.