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vol 4 no 12 May 16, 1999

APPOINTING DEACONS

Ed Barnes

We began the process of appointing deacons here at Loudon a few weeks ago. Three sermons have been preached concerning the office, work and qualifications of deacons, as well as the various relationships that deacons sustain with others in the church. In our Sunday morning Bible class a couple of years ago, while studying the book of 1 Timothy, we openly discussed the office, work, and qualifications of deacons. The opportunity to engage in more study, ask questions or deliberate further on the subject has been offered to anyone who felt that such was necessary.

During the process of appointing elders two years ago, we took our time, believing that such a task should not be rushed. Future problems can be avoided by exercising care in the beginning. We are going about the selection of deacons with the same care and deliberation. The last thing we want in the future for the church here is to look back with regret at what we are doing now.

The point at which we now stand in the process of appointing deacons, having taught and given serious consideration to what the Bible says on the subject, is to choose from among ourselves men to whom the responsibilities of deacons can be turned over (Acts 6:3). Please consider the following characteristics which I believe are necessary in order to successfully accomplish this step in the process of appointing deacons.

Desire To Become A Deacon

As Paul writes concerning elders in 1 Timothy 3:1, a man must desire the office in order to become an overseer. He must have his heart set on becoming an elder. Any man who is appointed as a deacon, must likewise have a desire to be a deacon. Whether or not we appoint deacons here in Loudon will ultimately depend on whether we have men who qualify and desire to be deacons. Do we have men here who have a desire to take on this divinely appointed office in the Lord's church? On the surface, it looks like we have several men here who meet the qualifications, at least those that can be judged by others. But if the desire is not in the heart of those who otherwise qualify, then that person is indeed not qualified. At one point or another in the selection process each candidate must be asked, "Is the office of deacon a position in the Lord's church for which you qualify and which you desire?"

The desire must be there. But let us also understand what it is, exactly, that a deacon is supposed to desire. The term deacon is not an official title, and a title is not what one seeks in becoming a deacon. The term deacon refers to a servant, and it describes the work of service.

So the desire that a deacon must have is a desire to serve. The exact services that a deacon is called to are not specifically mentioned anywhere in the New Testament except in Acts 6:1-6, where the seven men who are believed to be deacons were chosen to see after the daily needs of the Grecian widows in the Jerusalem church who were being overlooked. These men were chosen for two reasons. 1) The task to be performed was an important one, and even though it was of a physical nature it still had to be attended to. 2) The apostles had duties of a spiritual nature (i.e. prayer and the ministry of the word, Acts 6:4) and did not have time to attend to the physical duties. In keeping with the principle involved here, we see deacons working under the local elders doing whatever is required of them to keep the church running smoothly and at the same time allowing the elders to give their full attention to the spiritual duties for which they are responsible.

Desire To Appoint Deacons

Not only is it necessary that we have men who desire to become deacons, we must also have a congregation that has a desire to appoint them. What would have happened in Jerusalem if the church there had refused to choose seven men from among their number as the apostles had instructed? I don't know, other than that it would have been wrong for them to have refused to do so. It may have been an indication of deeper spiritual problems in the church there. No doubt, there are churches in our day and age who have no desire to appoint either elders or deacons. If such a situation does exist, it would certainly be shameful. One thing is certain, however, and this is my point, if a church refuses to cooperate in the appointment of deacons either by objecting to the appointment of qualified men or by refusing to put forward from among themselves men who should be appointed, then there will be no deacons appointed in that church!

Let us all continue to think carefully and pray concerning this matter of appointing deacons. Let us also make sure that we are all doing our part that the church here will be successful in this worthy, divinely ordered endeavor.

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