The Ministry of Deacons

The Ministry of Deacons August 28, 2011

We’ve reached a momentous day in the life of our church–the day we install several individuals in the biblical office of deacon. For some time, the elders have desired to eliminate trustees as a functional office at Parker Hills and instead emphasize the ministry of deacons. We have several reasons for this change. First, we want our church policy to conform to the Bible’s prescription of two church offices: elders and deacons. Trustees are conspicuously absent. Second, we want our church offices to be filled by properly qualified individuals; but since the Scriptures lack any mention of trustees, we have no proper standards for their life and ministry. And third, we want to eliminate the confusion that presently exists regarding the roles and duties of our church offices. What elders do versus what trustees do is not always clear, particularly regarding their ministry purview. Thankfully, we will be able to clear up this confusion simply by installing deacons and following the Bible’s description of their ministry.

So what exactly is a deacon? And what do they do? The deacons’ ministry and qualifications are described in Acts 6:1-4 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13. In those passages, we learn that deacons are spiritually minded servants who care for the physical needs of the people, maintain the unity of the church, and assist the elders as needed. Although the office of deacon is not vested with any inherent authority, their duties demonstrate that theirs is a critical position for the health of the church.

Deacons’ primary duty is to attend to the practical needs of our church family. While the elders share this responsibility with the deacons, elders attend primarily to the congregation’s spiritual needs and deacons primarily to physical needs. In this capacity, our deacons oversee the Benevolence Fund under the oversight of the elders.

Deacons also help to maintain the unity of the congregation. You might think of them as the connective tissue in the body of Christ or the shock absorbers who soften the blows that inevitably come when sinners try to live together in community.

And finally, deacons serve in a wide variety of capacities to alleviate some of the responsibilities of the elders. Their purpose in this service is to allow the elders to devote themselves to the word and prayer (Acts 6:2). Again, this is because the elders’ first priority is the ministry of the word; deacons’ first priority is the ministry of the saints.