Four Questions Concerning the Role of Deacons
What may we observe about deacons in Acts 6:1-7?
- Their work was practical in nature.
Their name also denotes the practical nature of their work. They are servants. But practical work is spiritual work when done for Christ and the kingdom.
- Their objective was to relieve the elders (originally the apostles) for the ministry of the Word, prayer, and oversight of the church.
- They were to be accountable to the Elders.
“Whom we may put in charge”
- Their work was assigned and was not related to decision-making for the church as a whole.
- Some deacons were also gifted in other areas of ministry and were at liberty to use their gifts.
Stephen and Phillip, for instance, were deacons who also had other gifting. As deacons, however, they functioned in a practical way. Deacons are not limited to practical service, but must be engaged in practical service to be deacons. Deacons are not required to be evangelists like Phillip or preachers like Stephen.
How may we describe the difference between elders and deacons?
Elders are like steward and deacons are like slaves. Both are servants. No elder or deacon is allowed to function in any way other than as a servant. The greatest will be the servant of all.
How are deacons chosen?
- The elders chose the number.
- The elders chose the task.
- The elders explained the qualifications.
- The people chose the men.
- The elders set them apart.
How may elders and deacons work together?
- Deacons may be assigned to individual elders.
- Deacons may lead ministry groups made up of people in the body (see “A Practical Plan for Using Deacons”)
- The key thought for deacons is “action” not decision-making.