Lesson #2 The Deacon & His Work

Hello TMC Family and Friends,
During the month of July 2023, we received deacon nominations from the congregation. After the Board of Elders prayerfully and carefully evaluated the nominations, we are happy to report that we have two strong deacon candidates and one yokefellow candidate (deacon in preparation) that we believe God has provided to serve The Mission Church of Lexington! These three men are now being trained to serve in this important Biblical office. If once the deacon training is finished and the deacon candidates as well as the Board of Elders believe the Lord is still leading in this matter, these three men will be presented to the church during the “Information and Celebration Gathering” on December 3rd for church affirmation. The newly established Board of Deacons will begin their tenure in January 2024. Over the next 6 weeks I will be sharing with you through this blog the sessions that I am using to train and equip our deacons so they can be the deacons they want to be and so they can be the deacons that TMC needs them to be! I believe the information in these sessions have spiritual and practical benefit to every Christian and every covenant church member.
Scenario Conversation Starter:
Pastor John serves a church of 400 members in the Midwest. He has been there about two and a half years, he really loves the people, and sees a lot of potential for future growth. Pastor John really wants the church to grasp his vision and passion for the lost, and he has many ideas for ways to reach prospects in their community through service opportunities, special events, and Sunday school. Unfortunately, few people in the church share his passion, especially those with influence. Ray, who is the chairman of the deacons and a member of the finance committee, cannot understand why Pastor John is so concerned with growing the church. Additional people will create growing pains, added expenses, overcrowded facilities- not to mention will create more parking problems. One day Ray tells Pastor John, “You just preach the Word, visit the hospitals, and see to the marrying and burying, and let us take care of the rest. We’ll be fine.” Pastor John is frustrated but knows in his heart that the Lord has called him to lead this church. He is committed to seeing it through no matter what, but desperately needs someone to talk to.
If Pastor John came to you for advice, what would you tell him?
What would you say to Ray?
How could you try to influence change in the church without creating disunity?
Deacon service is not just a position to hold; it is a mission to fulfill and a work to be done. Acts chapter 6 is a key text that captures the core work of a deacon in the local church.
Acts 6:1-4 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.
Though seven men were chosen, they are not actually called “deacons” in this passage. Their selection, however, shows the initial action of the church to choose men who would help the apostles by serving the church body. Scholars believe that this text represents the earliest recorded activities of the church office that would later be called deacon. The five reasons the early church needed deacons indicate the kind of work they were assigned to accomplish.
1- To Help Manage the Logistics of Church Growth
A church experiences growing pains much like a child as he or she is growing up and experiencing changing needs. When the church grows, the needs grow, costs grow, and someone must pay the price for that growth. Growth may require a church to go to multiple services, adjust programming times, enter a building program, purchase more land, create more parking, add staff members, and expand ministries. Growth demands change, and growth changes things.
The early church faced difficulties because of growing pains. Glancing back to the beginning of Acts, we see the explanation for the wonderful growth recorded in chapter six where Jesus’ directive for mission was being followed.
Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
By the time of Acts chapter six, the early church had saturated Jerusalem with the Gospel. They had also influenced the neighboring communities and were positioned to evangelize Samaria. When the apostles became bogged down serving the growing congregation with virtually no help, they then added the office of the deacon. The early church needed to change because they were growing and because they needed to continue to grow.
Following Jesus’ clear instructions, the goal of the early church was to take the Gospel to the whole world. It is no less our goal as well today! The apostles made a wise decision in appointing these seven men for service, and because they were appointed, the church was better able to grow in faith and be faithful in service.
2- To Protect Church Harmony
“Hebrews” refers to Jewish disciples of Christ who spoke the Hebrew language, while “Hellenists” were Jewish converts from Greek-speaking lands. These “Hellenists” had come to Jerusalem for Pentecost but had stayed with their new family and faith rather than return home.
Because of the “complaints” that arose between these two groups, the early church was vulnerable to a church split. Church splits often occur because people are dissatisfied or complaining. Deacons have a great responsibility to help maintain church harmony. Jesus does not expect uniformity, but He does expect unity within the church family.
John 17:20-21 I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
Complaining can destroy the unity of the church. The Greek work “koinonia” was a special word used to describe the communion (fellowship or harmonious relationship) enjoyed by the early church. Just as Christians have communion because of our bond with Jesus Christ, deacons should endeavor to help protect that harmony within the Body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:3 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
3- To Provide for the Needy
The need for deacons arose because of the needs of the people, and the apostles demonstrated just how important people are by ensuring that those needs were met. A single yet profound truth to remember is: “God loves people and if we love what God loves we will love people too”. Churches have the duty and the delight to assist in meeting legitimate needs of their members.
Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Since deacons are called to meet the needs of people, they ought to do so faithfully so the pastor can do what he has been called to do. Pastors are truly blessed when they are surrounded by deacons who are serious about service. The pastor has a built-in desire to minster to every member of the church, but because this is usually not possible for one Pastor (or even the Pastoral Staff), deacons are called on to assist. The pastor, therefore, can lead in confidence knowing that the people’s needs are being met just as if he were doing it himself.
4- To Prioritize the Ministry
The principle that guided the apostle’s decision to appoint men to serve was a simple understanding that the church needed to work together to be effective in ministry. Their motto might have read: “None of us can do alone what all of us can do together”.
Ephesians 4:11-12 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
With deacons in place to serve tables, the apostles were set free to prioritize the ministry. For them, nothing could override their responsibility in giving themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the Word. When deacons serve the practical and logistical needs of the congregation, the pastor is given the time to spend time in the Word in preparation to preach and teach. This also frees the pastor to plan and prepare to lead the church forward in the vision the Lord has placed upon his heart to share with the other leaders and the congregation. Every pastor needs to be fortunate enough to have deacons serving alongside him who minister to the needs of the people so he can have time and energy to “speak to God about the church and then to speak to the church about God”.
5- To Ensure Gospel Penetration
Because the apostles kept their priorities, and the appointed men served the people, the church experienced great results. The Word of God increased, the number of disciples multiplied, and great company of priests were obedient to the faith.
The important lesson to learn is that when ministry is conducted appropriately, the church grows exponentially. Deacons who base their ministry on the blueprint given in Acts chapter 6 will be growing in their faith and faithful in their service.
In conclusion, no church exists that does not face difficulties, and usually one man alone cannot handle them. This is the context we observe in Acts chapter 6 which leads to the appointment of a church position we know as deacons. Deacons were to be men of the highest character and deepest commitment who were poised to keep peace in the congregation while serving the people. As a result, the apostles set themselves to continually pray and seek God. Their preaching became more powerful than ever because they did not have to leave the Word of God and serve tables. Faithful deacons serving the Lord by serving the people were largely responsible for the new growth.
Discussion Questions:
1. The church in the book of Acts grew despite internal problems. Think about problems you have seen in churches you have attended or served. How were the problems handled and what was the result? How did the deacons in those churches help or hurt in those situations? In your opinion, what could have been done differently?
2. Consider for a moment the harmony and unity of The Mission Church of Lexington. Since unity is the catalyst for church growth, discuss in a positive way any issues that may be hindering or threatening church unity. How can the deacons work with the Pastor to overcome these?
3. Far too many churches have strained relationships between the Pastor and the deacons. What are some way to ensure the partnership between the Pastor and the deacons of TMC remains positive, strong, and effective?
If this blog post has grabbed your curiosity and you would like to know more please pursue any/all of the below options:
1- Contact me at pastor@missionchurchlex.org
2- Check out our church website Misisonchurchlex.org
3- Visit us for Community Celebration and Worship every Sunday at 9am and 11am (Facebook livestreaming available at 9am) and Mission Groups each          Wednesday at 630pm. We are located at 3288 Beaver Creek Drive Lexington KY 40515.
4- Follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/missionchurch.lex
5- Continue to read this weekly blog- “Find your Why with Pastor D”

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