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

July 11, 2012

 

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.

Before sharing our list of 50 acts of deacon service, let us make these five observations concerning their work:

1. There is no definitive list anywhere giving the responsibilities of deacons.

2. The guiding principles seem to be:

a) whatever the church needs; and,

b) what church leadership supports.

3. Deacons are servants and are not found in authority over anyone anywhere in Scripture.

4. We should think of deacons as “leading from the rear.” They keep the flock together, take care of stragglers, work for unity, and help the fallen along the way. The pastor or pastors ride point. Anyone thinking such ministry is unimportant needs to think again.

5. The work of deacons varies from church-to-church and year-to-year. But, as in Acts 6:7, their service should always reflect so positively on the Lord Jesus Christ that outsiders will want to join such a wonderful fellowship.

One more observation: Once we remove a church’s body of deacons from any kind of authoritative, governing responsibility, the issue of whether a church can have women deacons becomes pointless. Every church needs women servants ala Phoebe; pity the church that has none.

Though not an exhaustive list, below are about 40 ways deacons may serve the Lord’s people.

  • Model a lifestyle of evangelism and discipleship.
  • Support the church’s other missions activities and emphases.
  • Chaperone youth and children’s meetings at the church.
  • Chaperone youth and children’s trips away from the church.
  • Take care of handyman jobs around the homes of the elderly and poor.
  • Organize church-wide maintenance projects for church facilities.
  • Be substitute Sunday School teachers.
  • Be Sunday School teachers.
  • Minister to church families who have lost their homes by fire.
  • Help the unemployed in the church to find jobs or get training for new jobs.
  • Give benevolently to the needy.
  • Minister to the families of members in the hospital.
  • Build access ramp for members using wheel chairs.
  • Assist in local disaster relief ministries.
  • Cook for picnics and other events in the church.
  • Sponsor a yard sale to support special needs school.
  • Conduct a Sunday School at the jail.
  • Remove undergrowth at the associational camp.
  • Visit the church’s homebound sick and elderly.
  • Serve at Vacation Bible School.
  • Make videos of VBS for parents’ night.
  • Encourage the church staff.
  • Cell group leaders.
  • Prayer team leaders. One deacon used to head up our church’s entire prayer ministry. It has never been as strong since he went to heaven.
  • Deacons on-call for church members needing help over the weekend or at night.
  • Bring the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins or into the nursery area for workers.
  • Call or visit church guests on Sunday afternoon.
  • Prayer time with the pastor before the worship service begins.
  • Prayer for the pastor during the worship service.
  • Visit church members who are in hospitals.
  • Conduct car clinics for needy people in the church: change oil, minor repairs, etc.
  • Serve meals on wheels to shut-in members.
  • Minister to families in hospital waiting rooms.
  • Chauffeur members in nursing homes to appointments.
  • Parking lot ushers and security detail during all church events.
  • Building security during worship.
  • Be peacemakers for members who are upset.
  • Sit with a homebound invalid so spouse can run errands or simply enjoy a break.
  • Minister to the needs of the pastor’s family whenever he is preaching out of town.
  • Provide transport for the elderlies’ church attendance.
  • Drive a widow’s car to have the tires rotated, oil changed, etc.

That’s a starter list of acts of service for deacons to perform. What other such acts would you suggest?

This edited article was originally posted at joemckeever.com and is reposted here by permission of the author.

 

 

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Jeremy Crowder

The role of the Deacon is very important and I do believe they should be part of the decision making of the Church. Most men or in some cases women (though I have not known any in the SBC in my experience in name many do the role) that are chosen to be Deacons are those that faithfully contribute to the Church. They contribute time and finances usually long before they are chosen to be a Deacon. I don’t believe decisions of the Church should only be made by Clergy which I think are burdened with enough especially since many Clergy are bi-vocational. If it’s a decision about a Bible Study or someone to fill the Pulpit than I can see it being a clergy decision but whether the Church Van needs to get new tires why not let the Deacons handle it if a business meeting isn’t practical.

Matt Privett

Rev. McKeever,

There is much at this web site that I do not and have not agreed with, but I want to thank you very much for this post and this series, which I just stumbled upon. I believe this series is by far the best thing I’ve ever read at this web site. The confusion over what a deacon is and what a deacon is supposed to do has destroyed many churches and many ministries. But that we would eliminate the word “deacon” from our vocabularies altogether, call them what Scripture calls them (“servants”), and let the word of God be our authority when it comes to this “leading from the rear” office of the church.

Thank you again. You are speaking my language here and I pray many take it to heart.

selahV

Bro. Joe, I’ve seen deacons of all kinds in my lifetime. As a child, I thought they were above reproach and most certainly had a greater pipeline to God. When my husband was ordained one, I learned quickly the joy of serving our church and reaching out to families in need.

When my husband became a pastor, deacons took on another set of characteristics– from supportive avenues of strength, to brick walls of opposition. We were blessed with prayer warriors who prayed for us, and encouraged us, and fellowshipped with us. They became extended family. They loved our children like uncles and aunts.

Today I see so many in my church who are true servants of God. And spiritual leaders and examples of pure living. Overall, I think we are all to do the work of deacons and have the hearts to serve one another. Out of all the things you listed, many of those are carried on by the body, too. So, the deacon needs to help set that example for all to seek in their own lives, I suppose. selahV

Randall Cofield

Excellent post on a much-needed topic of discussion. Thanks, brother.

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