HANDOUT FOR THE SERMON: UNDERSTANDING GOD’S PLAN FOR DEACONS. January 21st, 2024, Manchester, TN 9:30 worship.
Have you ever wondered or considered if the office of deacons is a New Testament teaching or is it something mankind has decided to have, based on their own reasoning and wishes? It is important and valuable to “question” everything that our local congregation is doing in and out of the normal worship assembly. Truth does not fear questioning and investigation! We will learn that the office of a deacon is for qualified men to work and serve as “deacons” under the leadership of other qualified men that are called elders or bishops. Are you aware how many times the word “diakonos” is used in your New Testament? The Greek word, diakonos, diakonia, and diakoneo is found over 100 times in the New Testament.
1 DEFINITION AND USEAGE OF THE WORD “DEACON” OR SERVANT.
- DIAKONOS – servant (31 x) a noun
- DIAKONIA – service, the act of service (34 x) a noun
- DIAKONEO- serve (37x) a verb
Definitions of a Greek word for deacon:
- DIAKONOS: One who executes the command of another / a waiter. (26 times not role deacon)
- DIAKONIA: Ministering to the needs of others /specifically food. (34 times not deacon roles).
- DIAKONEO: To serve, to wait upon or to attend to anything. (37 times not office of deacon)5
Five times out of 100 times, what does that suggest? In good serious Bible reading and study we come to understand that every single follower of Jesus Christ, is a “diakonos” a servant, or deacon of Jesus and our fellowman! Who in the Manchester Church is living in the role of a servant of Jesus Christ and a servant of others? It should be each one of us! Though the title or “office of a deacon” may not be given you by the leadership of this Church, how often are “deacons” used to represent the office of a deacon? Only five times and in only two passages: Philippians 1:1 (1 time) and in 1 Timothy 3 (4 times)
Jesus came to establish His kingdom in this world. He came to establish a “better kingdom” and a very different kingdom. In His kingdom, the greatest is not defined by the people under you who serve! In the kingdom of Jesus Christ everyone can be great. The way we become “great in the kingdom of Jesus” is to serve! Let us read: Matthew 20:25-28 Jesus our King took on the role of a “diakonos,” a servant and washed the feet of His disciples and He gave up everything for humanity. In the Kingdoms of this world greatness is determined by all the people under that are serving them.
Scripture: Ephesians 4:11-16, Romans 16:1-3, the word “diakonos” is used in both passages and not in an official role or title as a deacon!
2.GOD’S PLAN FOR ELDERS AND DEACONS INSPIRE OTHERS TO SERVE. I fear that unaware we may in the Lord’s church, have developed a view and practice with elders and deacons that has resulted in a “institutionalized” committee where men selected as elders and deacons (board of directors) are the ones that serve all of us in the local Church! This reflects a common practice in some denominational groups where the “pastor” is in charge and controls and serves everyone else in the group. Truth is that we ALL are to be serving, both men and women. Yes, there are New Testament limitations of women, but they are still valuable and significant servants (diakonos) in the local Church.
- In the role or office as elders and deacons they are to enlist all of us the work of serving and not an institution that serves on our behalf.
- Deacons are servants who are leaders, yet not elders, who are to reach out and help all of us serve others more.
- As Christians we are all servants, and our King expects us all to be busy serving.
Who are deacons and what is their role?
- In Conjunction with elders. From proper Bible study, it appears that in the role or office of a deacon they are to serve and assist in conjunction with qualified elders. Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:8-13. In both of these passages’ elders are mentioned prior to the office of deacon. The fact that God lists these two together indicate something of value and importance. Every time the office of a deacon is mentioned it is always mentioned after the role of elders. Deacons serve under the leadership of elders. They answer to the elders, just as elders must answer to the leader Christ, the head of the Church. Read: Acts 20:28-36. Here the focus is on the work and responsibilities of elders. We learn that elders are not approved by God to be the menial workers in the Church. They are to be busy with the spiritual needs of the flock! The eldership is to defend the flock and support the spiritual weak and to teach or feed the flock.
- Deacons are qualified men. Read 1 Timothy 3:8-13 Here God stresses the importance of men of faith and character. We learn as we by read this section and digest the qualification we learn that deacons are good Christian men and good managers! Several items are mentioned such as deacons are married men. Men who are husbands and bonded or committed to his own wife and thus sexual pure and a man that can be trusted. He has children and he proves or has proven he has good managing skill as he must rule his house well. There are clear differences between elders and deacons. One must be careful not to demand the same qualifications for elders to be ascribed to deacons!
- Reasons why a local Church needs deacons. One very important and significant reason is to “free up the leadership” to have more time to do what God intended for them to do. If they are to free up leadership then deacons must be given “actual oversight” to do the work of managing whatever specific work tasks given to them by the elders. In order to do so the men selected must be “good managers.” We also learn from the example of Acts 6 that deacons were “selected with purpose.” Good leadership must select men that are groomed for and better acquainted and qualified for specific works!
Conclusion: The Manchester Church under the leadership of its elders needs qualified men to help in the important and valuable work of service. The are so many areas of service that go unattended because the eldership and the two deacons we currently have need more help! All of us must become better workers. We NEED WORKERS; however, we must understand the motivation for more is based on our understanding of the great mission of Jesus for the Manchester Church.