Deacon ministry

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by qwerty, May 3, 2002.

  1. qwerty

    qwerty
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    Deacon ministry begins in Acts 6.
    Most Baptist discussions about deacon ministry start at Acts 6:1, and end at Acts 6:6. (I almost want to hear Paul Harvey say, "And now for the REST of the story.")

    Our church just went through a minor "split", with most of the senior deacons leaving the church, when there was a disagreement between the pastor and some deacons about the role of deacons. The pastor’s view was that he is the one in charge, and that they should "obey him" (Hebrews 13:17, but the word obey here does not mean what it looks like). The deacons felt that they were operating more as elders in the church, and so resisted, and basically, felt that they needed to leave.

    In the book of Acts, after chapter and verse 6:6, we are told of how deacon Stephen and deacon Philip did many marvelous things for God, besides serving widows. How would most Baptist churches feel about that, if their deacons acted like Stephen and Philip? Would pastors allow it, or would they fell threatened?

    Why do Baptist discussions of deacons stop at Acts 6:6? Why do they keep deacons only serving widows, when there is so much more they could be doing?
     
  2. donnA

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    In our church they are doing more.
     
  3. Grasshopper

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    Problem with most Baptist Churches is that Deacons are doing the responibility of Elders. Or, Deacons are assuming the roles reserved for Elders. Leadership and decision making should come from the Elder or Elders. Deacons are to serve under the authority of Elders.

    If Deacons want to run and lead the church, then they should call themselves Elders and not deacons. This is a problem in small churches that have 1 Elder, usually the Pastor, and a group of deacons that have been there for 50 years.
     
  4. Molly

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    I agree grasshopper.

    There should be an elder or elders that lead,they should meet the qualifications,can be paid staff or lay elders,they should be the most spiritually mature of the church making the decisions for the others.There are times the whole church should aid in decisions,too. The deacons are to serve and help with ministries of the church,not lead.
     
  5. Aaron

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    This kind of thing is more common. It seems that our seminaries are turning our "pastors" who are self-willed and determined to lord themselves over God's heritage.
     
  6. Pastor Larry

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    I am not sure what "our seminaries" are or what Aaron thinks they should be turning out. In the NT, the pastor/overseer/elder is given the role of leadership and rule in the body. The deacons are never given such responsibility. However, pastors are warned not to lord over the congregation. I find in many churches that the deacons have assumed way too much leadership responsibility that was never biblically given to them.
     
  7. qwerty

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    Pastor Larry, you wrote:
    I find in many churches that the deacons have assumed way too much leadership responsibility that was never biblically given to them.
    ___________________________________________

    Would you say that deacon Stephen and deacon Philip in the first century fit into the category of taking too much responsibility that was not given to them?

    Do deacons have the biblical right to act like Stephen and Philip today?
     
  8. Pastor Larry

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    They not only have the right, they have the responsibility to fulfill the role of deacon. However, be careful not to confuse other things that Stephen and Philip did with what they did in their role as deacon.
     
  9. OSAS

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    The so-called "Deacons" in our church left, and took members with them when the Pastor insisted that he was the Pastor, and they were the Deacons.

    Since then there have not been any Deacons in our CHurch. Pastor says this time he is going to wait on God to send them, instead of folks looking for importance. When they do come, they will be expected to fullfill a pre-determined training program outlining a vast scope of responsibilities before assuming the role.
     
  10. qwerty

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    A friend of mine who works at the same company I do, is a deacon in a SBC church. He was taking a seminary class here in the area.

    The seminary professor got into the topic of deacons, and was very clear in his teaching.

    The professor basically said that he didn't think that deacons were worth much in the church any more. They just got in the way of the pastor.

    My friend did not say anything in class, but noticed that the rest of the students (about 15, all male) were nodding in agreement with what the professor was saying. This was in a basic Greek class.

    I am noticing more and more that pastors seem to think that they are the sole spiritual authority in the church they are in, and anybody else, deacons, etc., are threats to "their ministry".

    In my opinion, "lording over" is the predominant method that most pastors use to maintain control. Jesus explicitly said this was wrong.

    It is, in my opinion, not a coincidence that a lot of ministry has left the local church. I know that many pastors are very upset and complaining about the rise and predominance of para-chruch organizations.

    But, I hope we would all agree that even yet (and forever), Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus said that "lording over" is not the way that leaders get it done in the church. When church leaders disobey this direct command, there are negative consequences for both the leaders and the Body of Christ. But Jesus will still get His work done. It looks like He is getting it done outside of the local church.
     
  11. qwerty

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    Pastor Larry, you wrote:
    In the NT, the pastor/overseer/elder is given the role of leadership and rule in the body.
    ___________________________________________

    I don't know if it was an oversight, but you speak of these in the singular sense.
    The New Testament I read speaks of elders in the plural. That is, more than one pastoral leader in a local body.

    What I see across the U.S. is that very few churches use the model of multiple elder leadership. Again, when I read the writings in the New Testament, I don't find support for a single leader over a body. When it is mentioned, it is not a positive mention.

    3JN 1:9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. [10] So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
     
  12. pinoybaptist

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    Some Philippine Baptist churches I have been to do not have deacons at all. They have just a Pastor, and the tendency is for the pastor to lord it over the congregation.
    Not good.
    However, there are instances when deacons try to overrule the pastor, so much so that some churches refer to them as the Board of Demons.
    Not good, either.
    The Primitive Baptist church I belong to have deacons who take care of the administrative aspects only of the church.
    The pastor is called Elder. I am a licentiate, or one who has been set at liberty by the local church to preach the gospel, but I am not an Elder.
    Once ordained though, one is called an Elder, and his primary duties are spiritual nourishment of the local body.
    I think that's a better set up.
     
  13. Pastor Larry

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    Nope ... not an oversight. The NT never demands a plurality of elders although it permits it. You never see more than one "head elder." In every situation, someone is the leader. While a senior pastor may have assistants, he is still the senior. A church with a true plurality (which probably doesn't really exist) runs the risk of becoming a multi-headed monster.

    Why do you note 3 John 9 as an example of a single elder? I have never seen that before.
     
  14. rlvaughn

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    Pastor Larry, saying that the New Testament permits plurality of elders is much weaker than what is really there - a consistent example of plurality of elders throughout the New Testament. There is no multi-headed monster where the church has only one head - Jesus Christ. I have no problem with the fact that different people with differing gifts will rise to different abilities of leadership, but I do question where one would find the New Testament command, precept or example for a "senior pastor with assistants."
     
  15. Chris Temple

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    Hey guys -

    This thread is on Deacon ministry. I know its hard to talk about deacons w/o also talking about their usurping of eldership roles :D but let's try to keep the conversation on the topic and not on the "lordship of Pastors". :eek:
     
  16. qwerty

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    Pastor Larry, you wrote:
    Why do you note 3 John 9 as an example of a single elder? I have never seen that before.
    ________________________________________

    Of course, it is not written by John that Diotrephes was a one-man rule pastor, but several commentaries I found on the Internet either think he was, or lean that way. This is from the Crosswalk.com Bible Study Tools.

    Diotrephes

    John Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament

    We may also remark that the apostle addressed the assembly, and not Diotrephes, its head; and that it was this leader who loving preeminence, resisted the apostle's words which the assembly, as it appears, were not inclined to do.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Bible

    it is very likely he was more than a private member in the church, and that he was an officer, and it may be the pastor;...
    And it may be also, that he sought to have the preeminence over the rest of the elders of the church, for in those large churches there were oftentimes more elders and pastors than one; see (Acts 20:17,28) (Philippians 1:1) .

    Jamieson, Fausset, Brown &gt; 3 John &gt; Chapter 1
    Commentary Critical and Explanatory
    on the Whole Bible

    unto the church--of which Gaius is a member.
    loveth . . . pre-eminence--through ambition. Evidently occupying a high place in the Church where Gaius was (3 John 1:10
    among them--over the members of the Church.
    receiveth us not--virtually, namely, by not receiving with love the brethren whom we recommended to be received (3 John 1:8,10 compare Matthew 10:40

    John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
    on the Whole Bible

    1:9 I wrote to the church - Probably that to which they came. But Diotrephes - Perhaps the pastor of it. Who loveth to have the preeminence among them - To govern all things according to his own will. Receiveth us not - Neither them nor me. So did the mystery of iniquity already work!
     
  17. TomVols

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    I really don't like it when people say "Single-elders have abused their power, so we can't have them." You can make the same case for deacons abusing their ministry of service. The role of the deacon is to serve the church in order to free the elder(s) to lead and proclaim the Word of God. I just preached a deacon ordination and have a tape if anyone is interested. Also, consult Alexander Strauch's New Testament Deacon: Minister of Mercy for a good book on the subject. Allistar Begg has a good sermon or two on this available at Truth For Life
     
  18. rlvaughn

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    You're right, Tom. We should base our beliefs on scripture, not experience. In a like manner, I have seen some churches discard the office of deacon because someone had a bad experience with a deacon or deacons. These offices are scriptural, regardless of how many abuses have been associated with persons holding the office. Another consideration might be remembering that it is the wickedness in the heart, not the office, that is responsible for the problem.
     
  19. Don

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    Basic, simple examples: Phillip, Stephen, and the other deacons were called upon by the people, and "ushered" in by the apostles, because the widows were being neglected, and the apostles couldn't lay down their ministry to take care of "minor details"; i.e., let the pastor lead the church. The deacons are there to help take care of the flock, and ensure that the pastor is able to lead the flock, instead of being bogged down in the details.

    Phillip and Stephen went out and preached; so deacons are not precluded from preaching, either. Most deacons I know teach the Sunday School lessons, or "pinch-hit" when the pastor is unable to do the service.

    Phillip went to Samaria, and taught Christ, and people were baptized; but it wasn't until the apostles came that the people received the Holy Spirit. So this example shows the deacons "preparing" the people; but it's still the pastor that does the "big job."

    It was never meant to be a "deacons run the church, and the pastor just preaches" or "pastor rules with an iron hand, and the deacons better obey everything he says" kind of thing.

    The deacons are there to assist the pastor--period. Each individual, New Testament church must decide for itself how its deacons will accomplish that goal. And each individual deacon must decide for himself if he's going to support the pastor, or use the position for personal gain.

    And more than anything else, remember what "deacon" means: diakoneo--minister unto or serve.

    [ May 06, 2002, 05:19 PM: Message edited by: Don ]
     
  20. Pastor Larry

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    I find it interesting how many churches have a "board of deacons" as if this board has some sort of authority. Though my church commonly refers to the deacons as a board, I refuse to. I never use the term "board" with reference to the deacons. Even the chairman is the chairman of the deacons, not the chairman of the deacon board.
     

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