I am pro-deacon. That is, “Biblical” deacon. I'm one hundred percent for these godly men who will stand with their pastor, who love the Lord, serve God's people, and are always on guard for any thing (or person) who threatens unity in the Body of Christ.
The pastor who has such men surrounding him is one blessed dude, I'll tell you that.
On the other hand...
I am “anti” the deacon who wants to control the church, micro-manage the pastor, run the business of the congregation, and push his own agenda. The Lord Jesus Christ is dishonored by such little despots, and churches have been hindered by them long enough.
Why, I wonder, do some people want to take the mantle of a servant (diakonos, which is the Greek word for deacon, and it means servant) and use the office to bully others or run the church?
A deacon is a servant. A good deacon is a treasure. Every pastor and church wants men and women who have a heart to serve. What they do not want is a little cluster of ingrown power-brokers who protect their turf, and see their status as recognition of their importance, and elevate their decisions as law for the pastor and congregation.
In a trustees meeting several years ago, a shriveled up nay-sayer waved his hands wildly in the air and waxed eloquent as he said, “The Bible says that deacons and trustees are supposed to run the business of the church.”
I said, “Show me that in the Bible.”
He couldn’t. Do you know why? It’s not in the Bible. That’s why.
No church needs a small group of men who see themselves as something special, who draw lines in the sand defining their elite status tighter and tighter (by ignoring the Scriptures and writing up their own job description).
No pastor needs that.
What a pastor needs is helpers. Pastors need friends, encouragers, workers, partners, and brethren in Christ. What they do not need is obstacles, barriers, and opposition to overcome in doing their work. What pastors do not need is a little group who set themselves up as a corporate board of directors for the church and expect their word to carry great weight for everyone else. The church needs workmen; not dead weight. What churches need is godly and mature encouragers; what they do not need is a debate squad that fights among themselves over every issue. The church needs sweet-spirited laymen to bless and encourage the ministers; what they do not need is a group of men who boss the pastor and staff around like children.
When a group of deacons morph into power-brokers, intent on ruling the church, I suggest they be rejected and removed. Find servants instead. No one has to ordain or elect a servant. They simply serve. That’s what makes them deacons.
I have two sons. I would love for them to be deacons in a church. Biblical deacons, that is. Not these corporate monsters that have been created by American religion, using a system borrowed from our federal government. Such a model is not even Biblical!
Here’s what I would like to see them as:
1. They would always be men of God, first and foremost.
2. They would love and support their pastor, wherever they decided to attend church.
3. They would pray for their pastor and the church staff.
4. They would minister to others whether they were officially designated as deacons or not.
5. They would serve quietly, not drawing attention to themselves. This is a mark of maturity.
6. They are tithers, witnesses, and encourager's.
7. In time, younger men would see them as examples to follow.
8. In time, my grandsons would become deacons too…. servants in the church.
To have deacons, here’s how it is to be done. You organize a group of servant-minded Christians and put them in charge of any gap in the church’s ministries.
That was the case in Acts 6, when one group in the congregation was being neglected in the distribution of food. Once the apostles got wind of the situation, they chose seven men who could oversee that ministry. After all, the apostles pointed out, “It’s not expedient that we neglect the Word of God and prayer to serve tables.”
Nothing magnifies the ministry of a pastor better than when the membership relieves him of certain tasks so that he can do what he is called to do.
Here are more Biblical facts about deacons:
1. There are only two places in the Bible where deacons are mentioned in any depth. I Timothy 3 gives the qualifications of deacons, and Acts 6 tells of the one instance of their selection and the role they had.
2. Nowhere in the Scripture are churches “commanded” to have deacons.
3. Nowhere in the Scripture are we specifically told that God “calls” deacons. Rather, they are selected and appointed by the apostles or overseers in the church.
4. In Acts 6:1-7, the deacons are completely under the authority of the ministers. In I Timothy 3, the role and authority of ministers and deacons is clearly defined as well.
5. Deacons served as assistants to the apostles, and later, to the ministers of the church. They were not called to supervise pastors, but to serve as extensions of pastoral ministry by ministering to needs within the congregation.
I’m glad to say that PCC is full of such gifted men and women. These people have the genuine heart of a servant and sacrificially serve wherever needed. They have the pastors back. They protect the unity of our church. They work and serve quietly. They fill dozens of gaps in our ministry.
Is it any wonder that our church is as great as it is? No, it’s not.
I haven’t counted lately, but my best guess is that we have dozens of such people. This much I do know: we have approximately 150 people who make this church run on a weekly basis. Plus, I have an inner circle of men who are a real asset to me.
I’m one fortunate pastor.