What's a deacon in your church?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Debby in Philly, Dec 16, 2003.

  1. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
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    Pardon my lack of understanding, but I realize we have a number of definitions floating about for the titles of those who attend to the affairs the local church. Now I don't mean Biblical definitions, I mean in day-to-day actual practice.

    In my church, the Board of Deacons is the highest level body. If we were a corporation, the deacons would be the board of directors. It contains both men and women (a stipulated number of each), and they are elected for staggered multiple-year terms by the congregation at the annual business meeting. Nominations for election come from the board itself, not from the nominating committee or the floor as for other offices. The deacons handle "spiritual" matters - program oversight, planning services, administering an emergency needs fund and food cupboard, interviewing candidates for baptism and membership, and the preperation and serving of communion. The only gender-based division of duty is that female deacons prepare communion, and male deacons serve it in the service. We are a small church, and rare exceptions have been made to that last rule when there were too few male deacons present to handle the task. The pastor attends the meetings, and while he always has requests of the board that are usually agreed to as a formality, and he really does provide the leadership and drive for the congregation (kind of like a CEO), officially, he "works" for the Board of Deacons.

    We have other boards, trustees and finance, who handle the physical plant and money.

    I would mention here for reference that my church was until recently a member of the ABC, and we have switched to CBA.

    I see some of you speak of "ordaining" deacons, and also of "elders". How are these functions carried out in your churches, and what is their definition? Please let's keep this as a kind of poll, covering actual practice, and not a debate on biblical definitions or gender issues. I am curious to see just how many different ways all of this is done.
     
  2. Bethelassoc

    Bethelassoc
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    Well, what I'm accustomed to is a pastor and deacon are ordained officials by the association. The deacon doesn't have a task list other than that of what the Bible says to do, plus he's the helper of the pastor.

    We don't have boards, the pastor and deacon(s) work within the congregation and are not seen as separate from them.

    The ordained ministers are called elders; they and the deacons make up the presbytery.
     
  3. Deacon

    Deacon
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    In the church I attend we have only two offices, pastors (which would include elders, overseers, ministers) and deacons (which would include trustees).

    While there is some debate, some see the first 'official' use of the word 'deacon' in Act 6, where deacons (servants) were selected to care for needs that distracted the apostles from their chief duty of ministring the Word.

    In this respect the deacons at my church serve the pastors, helping them in the tasks of running the church and maintaining the facilities, among many other tasks.

    But deacons have other duties too. Deacons in many churches serve as legal representatives of the congregation (a secular role which is not biblically defined). In this position the deacons may also be called 'trustees' (a legal term not a biblical term), they the ones officially responsibile for the church before the courts.

    The church I attend has only two officers defined before the courts, the chairman of the deacons and the secretary of the deacons. There are elected positions. Even so scripturally, the pastors of the local church are the leaders.

    In this conflicting role, the position of deacon remains a position that some churches have chosen to do without.

    A sensitive and responsive leadership can work with in the defined legal and biblical positions and do mighty things for the Lord.

    Rob
     
  4. Groves1611

    Groves1611
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    I would suggest that you spend some time reading your Bible... I don't mean that in a mean or rude way! No where in the Bible does it ever teach that God called a "board of Deacons" to lead the local church.
    God calls a Pastor (Shepherd / Overseer) to give an account for the souls of the sheep.
    I learned something a long time ago.... Anything with two heads is a freak!!!!!
    Deacons in the Bible were humble servants. Servant never has meant "lord" or "rule over".
    Research this one out some more... you will be surprised at how God knew what he was doing when He designed the church.
    Also let me say this..... I have found that everytime a "commitee" got together in the Bible, .... somebody was about to die. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to be on any of those.
     
  5. gb93433

    gb93433
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    If they aren't leading others then they aren't leaders. The name doesn't change who they really are. The primary task of any leader is to lead others. If they are not leading others then the other qualifications listed for deacons and pastors are meaningless. So don't call them by anything other than what they really are.
     
  6. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
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    Defending my church's practice, the truth of the matter is that the pastor IS the leader, he's the "CEO", he just isn't a dictator.
    We've actually been without a pastor for a while, and believe me, the Chairman of the Board of Deacons is no substitute! We need a Shepherd!
     
  7. mortenview

    mortenview
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    Just reading through here. I agree with the post of "Deacon."
    A difference though, for us, would be that our officers before the court would be pastor; I am, according to our by-laws - the President of the Incorporation and then chairman of deacons - VP.
    We also have a treas and a clerk.

    Our deacons are - as the wrod means in the Greek - "servants" In Acts 6:3 they chose 7 men (not women)of honest report full of the Holy Ghost.

    The "business" was the taking care of - Vs 1 - the widows and orphans of the Grecians.
    The Apostles - who were the pastors in that church - "appointed" them over that business -
    Vs 3.
    There were also over 8,000 people in that church before they chose deacons.

    I Timothy 3 gives the qualifications for a deacon
    They include his wife also.

    In our church, our by-laws were sketchy on nominations. We are going to change them.
    I have assured our folks that the deacons and I go over each man in the church and consider him re/is he qualified?
    The Bible says that he must be "proved" vs 10.

    We allow folks to turn in names for consideration; but the problem we were having was folks thought just because they turned in a name, it should be on the ballot.
    If they are not qualified, they will not be on the ballot.
    Under the changes I have implimented, we have had men on the ballot, highly qualified, that never were on the ballot before.

    I also believe that the pastor/deacon relationship is one of fellowship. Some of my best friends in church are deacons and their families. We don't fight but we care and pray and help each other.

    Our deacons are also trustees.
    Our by-laws state that the deacons have no authority over the pastor and that they have no authority unless the pastor gives it to them.
    Hope this helps.
     
  8. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Our "deacons" are not a board; they are spiritual men assigned to help with the PHYSICAL work of the local assembly. One works on the building (getting crews for cleaning, painting). One with the books/checking. One with the outside yard, plowing, mowing (in April they BOTH get done 2-3 times). One with communion. The deacons get together and make general decisions (to help each other) and recommendations to the congregation.

    Our "elders" are not a board; they are spiritual men who work in the SERVICE of the assembly. One with preaching. One with teaching/sunday school. One with youth. One with small groups. One with new members, etc.

    Our "congregation" makes ultimate decisions of calling the preaching elder (pastor), annual budget, mission support, etc. It is the entire body that makes the major decisions.

    Hope this helps.
     
  9. glenn316

    glenn316
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    We have a deacon family ministry where each deacon has about 10-15 families assigned to them. The deacon then assists the pastor in making hospital visits and calling on new visitors. The deacons also administer a benevolence fund, to privately assist those in need in our congregation. about twice a year we try to set up a deacon "family" dinner too. The deacons don't have anything to do with running the church. We have a church council for that. Only the chairman of deacons serves on that.
     
  10. Charlesga

    Charlesga
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    Our deacons are strictly servants. They have no real authority nor decision making power.
     
  11. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
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    Leave it to Baptists to differ so broadly on this issue. What most of you call deacons, we call trustees. I guess each church does it a little differently. Does it have to do with having Northern or Southern roots, perhaps?
     
  12. Bro. James Reed

    Bro. James Reed
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    Basically, our deacon, yes, only one, for the time being (my dad was called to the office and will be ordained Easter weekend), anyway, he is the trustee of the church and holds the deed to the church property. He is the one appointed to sign any and all official documents when the need arises.

    If we had more than one, they would be responsible for meeting a week before regular conference to discuss business to come before the church. We did this as a church earlier this month, and conference lasted only half as long as usual.

    Aside from his official duties, the deacon is to aid the Pastor in areas not pertaining to scriptural study, such as the day to day needs of the church and her separate members.

    Apart from the above, he has no other duties, except for filling in as Moderator in conference if the Pastor happens to be absent.

    The Pastor is responsible for what is preached in the pulpit. He keeps us informed as to who he feels called to preach and when.

    The only other offices of the church, though not scriptural, but needed for the business end, are the treasurer and the clerk(which happens to be me).

    All decisions are made by the congregation in our business meetings.

    BTW, the ordaining of a deacon is quite a bit like the ordaining of an elder. He is questioned about his duties, charged with his responsibilities(as is the church), and then comes under the hands of a presbytery consisting of other elders and deacons.
     
  13. Lil Sister

    Lil Sister
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    According to Acts 6, deacons are godly men "full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom" to minister to the physical needs of the church. Directly, it deals with meeting the needs of the poor (esp. in the local Body); but it includes taking care of the worship hall, etc.
    In 1 Timothy 3:8-9 there are requirements made that a deacon be a man, "grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved, then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless."
    Their wives must also be godly women, vs 11: "grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things."
    The deacon must rule his home well and be a "one man woman" (the meaning of "husband of one wife", I understand).(vs.12)
    So while it is not a ministry as responsible (for doctrine, etc.) as an elder, it is not a position for just anyone in the church! It is certainly a ministry of service, given only to a man who is Biblically sound, godly in lifestyle, having a Christ-centered home, and proving himself faithful.
     
  14. Brandon

    Brandon
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    In my church, the deacons are a group of men and women, who serve communion, work together to come up with new ministries for our church, welcome new members, and help to lead worship. A person is nominated to the Board of Deacons by the church nominating committee, and can choose to either accept or reject the nomination. They are then placed on the board at the annual business meeting by the congregation's vote. Terms are 3 years, and 1 year for the youth advisor to the Board. My Pastor firmly believes that youth should have a say in the leadership of the church, so in 2001, he institute youth advisors to the Board of Deacons and the Board of Christian Education. These advisors are full voting members of the board that just happen to be youth.
     

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