(from June 2018's First Wednesday Prayer & Devotional)
Who is the minister of SC? We are, all of us!
Folks tend to regard the pastor as the minister in the church, and indeed we ought to be, but you well know from Scripture that the Lord says that everyone in the body has a role to play, and very often it is those weaker parts of our body that mean the most. So, please, don’t ever discount the role you play in making our family function as God’s family here at SC… no matter how big or seemingly insignificant your contribution may seem.
My being called to pastor & preach is a privilege, honor and major responsibility. As the talking-head, so to speak, folks ten naturally to think of the pastor as “the minister”. But, let me ask you, do you know who takes out the trash? Do you know who changes the batteries in some of our elderly lady’s vehicles from time to time? Do you know who makes arrangements for folks who need rides or access to the building? Some of the most necessary service among us is done sight-unseen by our deacons. Whether it’s ministering benevolence help to those in need, or mowing the yard of one of our widows, our deacons are there.
What they do and how they serve our church family hardly gets credit or notice, but those “little things” are the very “cups of cold water” that our desperately thirsty family often needs.
Often unnoticed & unthanked, the Scripture, however, promises a very good and faithful reward to those who serve as our deacons:
I think what the apostle would have us understand from this passage is that, while doing simple things like installing door handles, painting walls, or picking up meds for someone sick in the church family… none of those services should be thought little of in terms of our well being. Paul says such service gains the servant a good standing, firm rooting, hope, strength, and confidence upon which they can stand in the faith. I’m sure many if not all of you have had such an experience. Maybe you were eager to serve someone in need [pause]… but, then again, maybe not so much. There was a need; you knew it. Maybe a meal, a visit, or even just a phone call, and for whatever reason it felt like a bit of a sacrifice, but one you knew they needed you to make. So, you did it. Only to discover afterwards what a blessing it was to have… been a blessing. That’s almost always the way it works with Jesus: If a seed falls to the ground and dies—lays down its ambitions, plans, and own will & desire—it goes on to bear much fruit, more joy than it ever enjoyed before the sacrifice. (re-read 1Ti3.13 again)
Those who serve, who live lives of such service to others, deacons who love accordingly… they will find their faith strengthened, their love for Christ increased, their proclamation of God’s good news & all of His good ways more ready to be shared with others.
Lee & Garrett have served us well, especially since making the move to Suite 100. With the addition of a building came a lot more responsibilities, too many for just two deacons in a growing body of believers like ours. While they have served us well and haven’t left anything undone that I’m aware of, the elders are confident that adding to their number would be a step in a very good direction for our church family, and I am thankful that Clint Beicker has agreed to offered to serve us in this capacity.
What I would like for us to do tonight is to begin praying together about this. Then, over the course of the next four weeks, I would ask that you would continue praying, and perhaps seeking out opportunities to talk with him about it, ask him any questions, and call on him to help with a particular need you might have. In 1Ti3.10, Paul commands that deacons “be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.” So, Clint, in prayer, patience, love & God’s grace, we will be doing just that over these next few weeks. And then, after July’s FWPD, we will call the membership together to vote on your appointment, the will of our Lord Jesus.
Having said as much, for the remainder of our devotional time this evening, I would like to look at some Scripture together with an eye toward better understanding just what a deacon is, and what are the Biblical qualifications & expectations the Lord has for them as they serve His family.
The main distinction between deacons & elders is found in Acts 6.1-6. There the elders devoted themselves to prayer & ministry of God’s Word. The more practical matters of ministering to the body of Christ were handled by the deacons. That’s NOT to say deacons cannot or should not preach or teach. In fact, just after being appointed as a deacon, it is Stephen who is martyred for his faithful preaching shortly after his appointment.
Paul lays out the Biblical qualifications for deacons in his first letter to Timothy. Here are verses 8-13 of chapter 3:
v8 Dignified: honorable, respectable, similar to elders
- Not double tongued: he’s a straight talker, integrity in his speech; not two-faced, but trustworthy
- Not addicted to much wine: self-controlled, not an addict to win, strong drink, etc.
- Not greedy: as those responsible for the practical resources & finances of the body, deacons must NOT be of the greedy sort, a lover of money
v9 Sound in faith & life: confidence in God’s Word & ability to apply It practically
v10 Blameless: his overall character is above reproach: personal life, family care, finances, etc.
v11 Godly wife: likewise dignified, not a gossip, humble, meek, and faithful
v12 husband of one wife; not simply a non-polygamist, but remaining true to his vows until death
- Manages children & household: the spiritual leader of his family
Practically speaking, some of the ways deacons serve our church family concern oversight of the resources God provides, including finances, benevolence opportunities within & without the church, property & facility maintenance, greeting on Sundays, preparing communion, seating folks in services as needed, keeping up with the building calendar, etc. Basically, all the general logistical matters & ministries.
While elders serve mainly by teaching & leading, deacons serve by… well, serving: waiting on tables, ministering to the tangible needs of the Body of Christ. In doing so, they free up the elders to better care for the spiritual needs of the Church family. But again, that’s not to say deacons don’t serve our spiritual needs as well. They most certainly do, and that is why they too must be examined by the body to ensure that they meet the qualifications God gave us in His Word.