Deacon and the Deacon Board

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Deacon, Oct 3, 2005.

  1. Deacon

    Deacon
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    The role of the deacon has been a source of much debate.
    Many churches have deacons, some allow women deacons too,
    Still others have reacted to the problems that are inherent in relationships among people and have eliminated the office of deacon, choosing to have only pastors/elders.

    They reason, “deacons are just servants and every believer is a servant.
    ‘No deacons’ means ‘no deacon problems’.
    And of course those deacon boards are unbiblical and generally a bad idea.”


    What is the proper role of a deacon?

    OPINION 1: The role of the deacon in the NT is not well defined and appears to have expanded during the time of writing of the NT Scriptures.

    Classically a deacon, (diakonos - Strongs 1249 /GGK 1356) is a person who renders service—a servant or waiter.
    The first use of the word “diakonos” in the NT Scriptures is in Matthew 20:26.

    But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (vss 25-28 NAS95)

    A deacon can be defined as a servant or one who serves, without necessarily having the office of deacon (Matthew 20:26; Ephesians 6:21). Pheobe may have fit in this role (Romans 16:1).

    First use of the office of deacon mentioned is arguably in Acts 6:1-7.

    ”…select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. (vs.3, NAS95).

    The word is not transliterated as “deacon” until Philippians 1:1.

    Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: (NAS95)

    The definitive passage regarding deacons is found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 where a list of the characteristics or qualifications of the deacon are provided, along with those of the overseer/bishop.

    Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, gives a good definition of one who serves in the office of a deacon as someone given the “responsibility to care for the needs of believers—‘deacon, one who helps the believers.’” (53.67)

    1) Deacons are not just ordinary servants in the church but serve in a specific office (1 Timothy 3).

    2) Deacons are not just ordinary servants in the church; they are specially recognized servants that have been called out for service by the congregation (Acts 6:3,7).

    3) Deacons were specifically distinguished (along with the elders) from the general population of saints (Phil. 1:1).

    What is the role of the office of deacon? Some have suggested that it concerns the physical needs of the church and it’s body. That covers almost every aspect of ministry.

    SO WHAT ABOUT DEACON BOARDS? Are deacon boards unbiblical?

    There have been abuses of power within the office of deacon! It may even be common. Some therefore say, “Deacon boards are bad”.
    Perhaps this opinion is appropriate. Some Deacon Boards have been structured along the lines of the American government system. This is inappropriate and unbiblical.

    The pastor(s) and deacon board DO NOT have equal authority. There is a hierarchy of power and the deacons are under the authority of the pastor(s). An interesting observation in studying 1 Timothy is that the qualifications of an overseer and deacon are placed within an outline describing the proper order of the church. Overseers have authority over the deacons. It’s a headship issue.

    The office of deacon was originated to allow the pastors of the church to have more time to devote to prayer and the study for the word (Acts 6). Pastors need to teach the congregation about the proper role and purpose of a deacon (and pastor/overseer for that matter).

    OPINION 2: Concerning deacon boards, I believe they are not un-biblical, they are extra-biblical; they are an expansion of the biblical doctrines presented in the Scriptures.

    Deacon boards can serve a good purpose if properly used by the elders.

    A deacon board encourages communication within the congregation by recognized leaders of the church.
    These are men that have been recognized and distinguished within the church as worthy of performing a special work. The congregation respects them and listens to them.

    A deacon board increases the availability of wise counsel (Proverbs 15:22).
    Deacons should be as diverse as the congregation, rich, poor, white, black, younger and elder, each provides a different viewpoint that can prove invaluable to the pastoral leadership.

    A deacon board encourages growth within the congregation (Proverbs 27:14).
    Younger deacons observe the more experienced deacons and gain experience and wisdom in various ministry opportunities.

    A deacon board is vital for full integration of various ministries.
    As congregations grow so does the complexity of the ministry. Excellence in ministry requires integration of various aspects of service.

    Deacons assume authority and decision making authority in their position of responsibility.
    A deacon performs his role under the authority of the pastors. In many instances the deacon may have more expertise than a pastor in his specialty area. This doesn’t mean that the deacon presides over the pastor.
    Just as a wife has authority over the home without being head over the family, so deacons can be given authority in particular areas without usurping pastoral authority
    (see Matthew 8:5-13).

    The tasks of a deacon are not defined in Scripture. I can’t imagine Paul knowing that sometime in the future a Sound and Media deacon would be helpful. But serving tables and helping widows, that was a task that was immediate to the times.

    Deacons in the church I attend serve in a variety of ministries; finance teams, education boards, personnel committees, building committees and maintenance teams, helps ministries and many others. Each team is given authority to act by the pastors and congregation. Annual or semi-annual Budgets are worked out and members must work within its confines. In many instances the team members have far more experience in their field of expertise than the pastors. Deacons perform their tasks and allow the pastor to have much more time to devote to prayer and the Scriptures. The pastor provides vision and purpose and provides accountability to assure each task is done well.

    Just a personal note: I currently do not serve as a deacon within the church I attend.
    My BaptistBoard name “Deacon” shows that I’m a servant: I’m saved and I’m serving my Lord.

    Rob
     
  2. Dr. Bob

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    But when we eliminate Acts 6 which never uses the term deacon (and it sure would have been the place to use it if that was meant) and if we look at the men in Acts 6 like Phillip and Stephen who were FAR MORE than any deacon I've ever met, we are left with very very little in the NT to see for the "ministry" that these servants of the body should perform.

    Sounds like a good basis for discussion and I will post more. Just a shot across the bow in the opening page to let you know I'm not going to let Acts 6 "slide" here.

    Bless you, Deacon. Look forward to a great time ahead. Should start out with each scripture that definitely deals with the deacon's MINISTRY:

    1.
    2.
    3.
    4.
     
  3. SAMPLEWOW

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    I think I'll have to go with ;Opinion #2.

    I was raised by a Deacon[my;dad] and have a brother that is a deacon and I have several Uncle's that are deacons. I have a long history of deacons in my life.

    I don't remember them being any trouble in the church .

    I do remember them all being very good men.


    servent, Jeff
     
  4. rjprince

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    Jeff,

    I have certainly seem some great abuse of the office of deacon and deacon boards. Praise the Lord that your experience has been more ‘narrow’ than mine. The problem with having a deacon “board” is that the term implies authority. If the limits of their authority are not clearly defined, there are often problems. I know of many churches that have had significant problems when the deacons get out of line, assume authority that is not theirs, and try to take over the show. Personally, since a “deacon board” is extra-biblical by your own admission, you might want to consider the advantages of calling them the “deacon body” or “deacon family ministry” or “deacon committee” or whatever else besides “deacon board”.


    Dr. Bob,

    While the masuline diakonos is not used, the feminine diakonia is used in Acts 6:1 and translated as “ministration”. It is most reasonable to assume that in this early stage of the churches development, the office of deacon had not yet be formalized. Clearly, it was formalized by 1Tim 3. Futher, we find the word diakonos being used as a technical term (for those who may not know, a TT is a special use of a word that is distinguished from general use) in Philp 1:1. Other than that, the word “deacon” is not found ANYWHERE but 1Tim 3. However, the word diakonos is translated as “minister” 20 times, and “servant” 8 times.

    I am not sure that the lack of the use of “deacon” in Acts 6 rules out the value of the passage in considering the ministry of deacons, though, we cannot but agree that the word does not appear in the passage.

    Many of the characteristics of ministry found in Acts are not only not present in churches today, they were not generally present later in the NT. So, I am not sure that the fact that there are no deacons doing what Stephen was doing is any more significant than the fact that there are not too many preachers raising the dead either. The transitional nature of Acts, seems to weaken the point of your argument IMHO.

    Ray
     
  5. Deacon

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    Ray, I personally minimize my use of the term “deacon board” for the very reasons you mention.

    The NT says little about the precise duties of a deacon but we can infer that "service" is the positions main task.
    Well what does a servant do?
    Servants serve;
    deacons deak!

    Acts 6 does not call “the seven” deacons, yet they perform the role. It’s interesting that the word deacon isn’t mentioned by anyone but Paul, who was probably well versed in Hebrew leadership structure.

    Central to my point about deacon boards was my first opinion that the position of deacon was not instituted by God upon the founding of the church but was developed and molded by the church and its leadership during the early stages of church growth in response to its needs.

    Rob
     
  6. Plain Old Bill

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    Everywhere I read about deacons they are servants set apart to serve.I do not read anywhere that deacons are to operate in the role of any kind of an overseer individually or corporately in a board.
     
  7. SAMPLEWOW

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    I truly believe growing up a deacon's son that I seen my dad as a very caring man of God . Mind you I was the kid that rebelled against any and everything that had to do with God .

    I think looking back now I can see clearly that my dad was and still is a servant of God and in being a servant of God serves the needs of the people in and out of the Church he is in .


    My dad has been a deacon in at lest 3 baptist church's over the years,and I believe I can be honest in saying that he has been loved and remembered by 99.9%of the people in each church he has served in.


    I remember seeing my dad sit in prayer sometimes for hours before board meetings .


    I am sure that there are many others out there just like him .
     
  8. bapmom

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    I, too, have met many wonderful deacons. My hubby is one of them, IMO. [​IMG]
     
  9. Deacon

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    Delegation of responsibility is not unbiblical.
    Pity the pastor that must have his hand in every project to maintain his authority.
    Mark that church as one that will have problems!

    Remember Jethro’s advice to Moses:
    How closely the qualifications to those given for deacons.
    Exodus 18
    (able men)
    (who fear God)
    (men of truth)
    (those who hate dishonest gain)

    1 Timothy 3
    (These men must also first be tested)
    (men of dignity)
    (not double-tongued; beyond reproach)
    (not fond of sordid gain)

    Rob
     
  10. Deacon

    Deacon
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    Opps double post :eek:
     
  11. SAMPLEWOW

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  12. Plain Old Bill

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    No problem with that here. The deacon has been given an assignment by the pastor and SERVES in that capacity until relieved of that responsibility.Many ways deacons can serve the needs of the church as long as they realize they are servants and not rulers( which sadly in some cases is how it works).
    I am not down on deacons.There are many Godly deacons who operate just as they should but I have just on this board read of deacons who operate way outside of the boundries of thier proper service and are a thorn in the pastors side rather than a servant to the church.That is all I'm pointing out.
     
  13. blackbird

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    Took the words right out of my mouth!!!!
     
  14. DHK

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    1 Timothy 3:8 Ministers, in like manner, grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not seeking gain by base means,

    1 Timothy 3:10 And let these be first proved, then let them minister, being without charge against them.

    As you can see from a more literal reading of the text, there is no "deacon" or "office" thereof, as the KJV suggests. The word is servant, and the Old English word suggests serving and one who serves. The term ought to apply to all who would serve in the church: treasurer, secretary, any administrator, etc. A servant (in any capacity) is a "deacon", a simple servant of the church. There is no such thing as an "office." We have butchered this term and elevated it above what it ought to be. It means to serve. It shows humility not pride.

    In the same way it should be used in the government. The minister of defence, for example, is a servant for the office or the service of the department of defence ready to serve the President, who in turn is put into that "office" that place of service, by the people, for the people of the U.S.A. It is a place of service, not a place of a dictator and/or dictatorial authority, as some assume. (Ask the bureaucrats.)
    DHK
     
  15. Plain Old Bill

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    If I would have known you wanted to say it Blackbird I would have held off. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  16. Deacon

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    God knew all along that the deacons would be a problem.

    If you search the book of Revelations you will find that there are no deacons in heaven. :eek:

    Rob
     
  17. Brother Ian

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    We don't have any examples of deacons taking part in any type of ruling body. The deacon body functions under the authority of the pastor. They may be co-laborers, but the pastor is in authority. One way some churches minimize the "power base" of the deacons is to rotate them out of the office one year out of three. That eliminates the "I've been a deacon for 30 years" attitude. The deacon who has served in the past must be voted back in if asked to serve again. Using this method, one third of the deacons are new each year.
     
  18. Karen

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    I would disagree here. A distinctive of Baptist churches is congregational government.
    So actually the congregation has the authority. And the pastor and deacons, however organized, are directed by the congregation.

    Karen
     
  19. blackbird

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    I would disagree here. A distinctive of Baptist churches is congregational government.
    So actually the congregation has the authority. And the pastor and deacons, however organized, are directed by the congregation.

    Karen
    </font>[/QUOTE]I'm sorry, Karen---but I get my marching orders from the Lord Jesus Christ----I am not directed by the people! I march to the drumbeat of God Almighty!!! As I look up toward the front---I see the Lord Jesus "twirlin'" the band director's baton----more than one baton twirler---and the band is in big trouble!!! : ;)
     
  20. Karen

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    You're quite right, blackbird! The Lord Jesus Christ Alone directs.
    But I see a tendency here and in many other threads on the BB to not really believe that the Lord Jesus can give His marching orders via congregational government!
    This is seemingly the Baptist distinctive many are now very willing to give up in favor of much stronger pastoral authority.

    Yet congregationalism has always been a key defining point of Baptists from other groups.

    My church, for example, just redid its handbook, by congregational vote. It was a lengthy process of review. The pastor is bound to follow the principles laid down.

    I don't think you are suggesting that you are an autocrat that does not answer to the congregation!

    Karen
     

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