Category: Church

Reforming the Deacons (Part 5):
What if events of Acts 6 happened today?

 

By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.

 

 

Coming tomorrow: Interview with a former Calvinist, part 1.

Today’s blog post continues a series of articles concerning the ministry of deacons in the local church. Click on the following links to access parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

A most unusual thing happened. A church found itself with an internal problem, and no one blamed the preachers.

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Reforming the Deacons (Part 4):
More than 40 Acts of Service

 

By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans

 

 

Today’s post continues a series of articles concerning the ministry of deacons in the local church. To see the earlier articles in this series by Dr. McKeever, click on the following links to access Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

What should deacons do?

If Acts 6:1-7 is to be our example and guide, the work of deacons may be defined as: whatever the congregation decides it needs, as prompted by the leadership, as chosen by the congregation, as solves the situation, and as will enhance the proclamation of the gospel.

We would appreciate additional scriptural examples defining deacons’ activity in the early church; but without such we must follow the few principles we do have, and the leading of the Holy Spirit as best we can perceive it.

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Reforming the Deacons (Part 3):
Interpreting the Qualifications by the Spirit



By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.




Read Part One Here.
Read Part Two Here.


There’s a danger in interpreting the Word of the Lord “by the Spirit and not by the letter of the law.”

The danger is that strict constructionists, who love their legalism and exclude anyone who thinks otherwise, will accuse you of not taking the Word of God seriously. (This I know from experience. I’ll go online and see where some article from this website has been ripped to shreds by a preacher who accuses me either of not knowing the Word or caring little for it. I try to respond kindly, but almost never get a response. The preacher loves his unloving tirades more than his brethren, thus violating John 13:34-35.)

“(He) has made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (II Corinthians 3:6)

The letter kills. That’s what legalism does as soon as it comes to interpret the Word. Putting their strict interpretation ahead of the believers involved or the particular circumstances the church finds itself facing, legalists end up misrepresenting the Lord, abandoning the people who were looking to them for light and help, and painting themselves into an uncomfortable corner.

The Spirit gives life. This refers both to the Spirit of God as well as a spiritual interpretation of His Word. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us a spiritual interpretation of Scripture.

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Reforming the Deacons (Part 2):
How to Help a Pastor Get Better



By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.




Read Part One Here.


Here’s what happens.

A few deacons fellowshipping over coffee deal with various subjects about the church. Eventually, someone brings up the preacher and that ignites the interest of the rest of the group. One or two have some concerns and suggestions.

“The pastor is so effective, but he could be more so if he would just do this.”

“I agree. And the thing my wife mentioned, he should be doing that.”

“Well, who’s going to tell him? And how would he take it?”

From there, the group decides on a plan. After all, how could the pastor not receive this well? Aren’t we all in his corner? Haven’t we shown him how much we appreciate him? And hasn’t he been preaching about how we are to grow and improve? Surely, he’ll want us to bring these suggestions to him.

What the deacons either do not know or do not care to know is that Pastor Tom carries scars from his dealings with a rogue deacon group in his previous church. And even though he loves his present flock and sees God blessing his ministry, something inside him expects another bomb to go off, for some little group to show up at his door demanding that their wishes be met if he wants to remain in that church.

This is a delicate moment in the relationship of Pastor Tom and this assemblage of deacons. The problems are twofold: the pastor does not see it coming and thus is not prepared, and the deacons have no idea what they are about to stir up.

It does not go well, and here’s why.

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Reforming the Deacons (Part 1):
Let’s Reform the Deacon Body



By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.


The most confused group of people in the average Southern Baptist church is the deacons.

They have no idea what they are to be and do. Depending on the whims of the deacon chairman for that year, they become servants or managers, program heads or administrators. Helpers or bosses. Activists or inactive.

The church’s constitution and bylaws are usually vague on who they are, what they are to do, how they should function.

And, let us admit up front, Scripture does not give us a lot of guidance on this matter either. At every deacon ordination I’ve ever attended–and in a half century of ministry, that’s quite a few–Acts 6:1-7 has been read. But there’s not a word in that passage about those seven men being called deacons.

In fact, let’s quit calling them deacons and start calling them what the name means: servants.

Calling them “deacons” is sort of a hedge someone must have erected to prevent them from having to do what their name implies. The word diakonos literally means servant. Furthermore, in almost all the places where the New Testament uses that word, it refers only to servants, to people doing the lowliest jobs in a household or an estate, and not to a class of officers or leaders in the church.

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