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A Church Full of Deacons

Acts 6:1-6


Very few doctrines are as misunderstood in Baptist churches as the doctrine of the deacon…even when you hear the word deacon it conjures up all kinds of images in your mind depending upon your past experience and what churches you’ve been raised in.

        If I were to ask you, what is a deacon?/what are they supposed to do?...I would get dozens of answers.


Some places they are money hungry or power crazed, some places they are the brute squad, some places they are ladies, and in Wake Forest they are “Demons”! 


Some would say that deacons form the ruling body of the church--“they run the church”—in many churches=true!


Other churches would say the deacons are the pastor police…he answers to them in all matters…they keep their thumb on him in all areas—in many churches=true!


I know of churches where the deacons represent authority and discipline…if you get out of line—watch out!  Here come the deacons! —in many churches=true!  Some picture such a dry, stuffy, crusty old guy we might as well call him “Deacon Gestant” [decongestant!]


Well, what does the Bible say about the office of deacon, and the role of deacons?

        The term deacon is a marvelous term…in general, it means servants.  (“aren’t we all supposed to be servants?”)  Yes, this message is for the whole church, and I want to show you 3 levels of servants in the church.


The Greek word for servant is diakonos (diakonos)—where we get the word deacon.  The word did not originally signify an office, it was simply a word for servant.


  • General Servants

And the 1st servant in the Bible we’ll call a general servant—we’re all called to this.

        Hundreds of Bible verses use the word diakonos, and translate it as servant, or in the context of a servant…not as a deacon. (ie: waiter—Acts 6)


The following verses all contain the word diakonos:

John 2:5

    His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.


John 12:2

    There they made him a supper; and Martha served…


Luke 4:39

    And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.


You can see, these verses are about general servants, in the sense of cooks, butlers, and waiters.


But then, the word was broadened to include all kinds of service…for example:


Romans 13:4

    For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God…


        This is about law enforcement officers, and others in authority serving the public.


Let me show you what Jesus then did w/ the word diakonos:


John 12:26

    If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.


        He’s talking about general servants…and we all are deacons in that sense of the word, if we’ve been saved.  We’re all deacons w/ a small “d”.  We’re a church full of deacons!

(bring up example to stand as example of a general servant)


None of us have been saved to sit…but saved to serve!


So, we’re all deacons, not in the official sense, but in a general sense.

        I wouldn’t want to convey the idea that the deacons serve while everyone else watches! (serving the Lord is not a spectator sport!)

We’re all to be “general servants”!


Then there’s another category:


  • Gifted Servants: (bring up another example)

Romans 12:5-8

    So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. [6] Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; [7] Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; [8] Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.


It’s their spiritual gift.  Many here have the gift of ministry, I Cor. calls it the gift of helps, our Spiritual Gifts survey calls it “servant”.  These are not just general servants, they are gifted servants.

        They don’t have to be leader, they love to serve, behind the scenes, no recognition required.


Here are some characteristics of a gifted servant:


  1. An alertness to and awareness of practical needs

They see what needs to be done, usually w/out even being told.

They see those dishes and just wash them.  (others would have walked by 10 times)  They see the trash in the parking lot and pick it up (pull that weed) rather than complain about it.


  1. Motivated to meet needs quickly…they can’t stand delays

They don’t like to formulate and talk about it, just get it done!


  1. Work to meet needs with disregard for personal weariness


  1. Great desire to complete a job once it is started

When others want to leave on the work day, these say, ah, where are you going?  Only a few hours and we’ll have it all done!


So, there’s general servants = all of us

Then, there’s gifted servants = it’s their spiritual gift

        Still the word diakonos, they are gifted deacons, w/ a small “d”.


But, then there’s a 3rd group, represented by… (bring up example).  There are some deacons w/ a capital “D”!  They actually hold the office of Deacon.


Now deacon group 1 is called to be servants

Deacon group 2 is called to be servants at another level

Group 3…tell me, has the meaning changed?…are they suddenly the ruling body?/has the meaning changed?/do they run the church?

        No, they’re still servants, but at the 3rd and highest level.


Why do we need a 3rd group when we’ve got these other 2?

        Because this 3rd group is called to be the example to the other 2 groups!


These are to be the…

  • Model Servants


Our God is really big on the concept of being an example:

Parents teach children by example / older women teach younger by example / Paul told Timothy to be an example to the flock / we can win the lost by being an example of a changed life!


More things are caught than taught!

        The capital “D” Deacons are the examples, the model servants to these other 2 groups!


That’s why the qualifications are so high (virtually the same as for Pastor!)


Any church member should be able to look at one of our deacons and say, oh, that’s how it’s supposed to be!


For example, if the deacon is a s.s. teacher, he is obligated to be the “model” s.s. teacher!  Not necessarily in terms of talent, but character, and faithfulness, preparedness, attitude, spirit, enthusiasm, etc.!


Model choir member—other choir members should look at and say, so that’s how to be a good choir member!


Family life (there are stringent qualifications for a deacon’s family…the pastor’s too!)


Joke:               3 deacons confided in each other.

1st-- Guys, I have a problem w/ gambling, help me!

2nd-- I’ve been drinking some to forget my troubles, help me!

3rd--Confession is good for the soul.  I must confess I have a serious problem w/ gossip, and I can’t wait to get out of here!


        Deacon wives:  your husbands are deacons because you let them be…and any time you decide to, you can disqualify him from being one!          The Bible says your husband isn’t qualified if he cannot run his own household (those under the roof)

        So, the wives are to be examples to all the other ladies in the church.  An example of service…of submission…of faithfulness.  I mean, why should any of the ladies help in children’s ministries if a deacon’s wife won’t?  Why should any of the ladies serve in the nursery if a deacon’s wife won’t?  Why should any of the ladies attend the ladies’ meetings if the deacon’s wives don’t?


Our young couples ought to look at our deacons and their wives and be able to say, oh, so that’s how you have a marriage, so that’s how a man should treat his wife, that’s what it means to love your wife as Christ loved the church!


Our young ladies should be able to look and say, so, that’s what it means to submit to the authority of your husband/follow his spiritual leadership!


Those raising kids should be able to look at a deacon fam and say, so, that’s the way to raise good kids to love the Lord!  So, that’s how to have family altar / discipline / teach how to act in church!


Every church member should be able to look at and say, so, that’s how to be faithful, that’s how to have a good spirit, that’s how to maintain a good testimony!


Deacons, there’s a charge for you in this message today…you are being called upon, not to be perfect, but to strive to be the models:  model servants, models in every area of personal and practical life!  And v. 7 shows what can happen, look!...

Acts 6:7

    And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly…


What an awesome responsibility, and so, the Bible calls upon us to lay hands upon you, and pray for you.

        (dismiss helpers to seats)

This is not simply for show.  It’s a Biblical practice going back to the very beginning.


We’re asking God to do 3 things:


Fill you w/ wisdom.  Deut. 34:9… “Joshua was full of the spirit and wisdom (Acts 6); for Moses had laid his hands upon him…”

Fill you w/ Holy Spirit as never before.  Acts 19:6… “when Paul had laid hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them.”

Bestow upon you spiritual gifts for the ministry.  I Tim. 4:14… “neglect not the gift that is in thee…laying on of hands.”


Deacons kneel.  Ordained ministers/deacons not currently serving invited to partake.


The church is witness to this, so you need not bow your heads, but are free to watch and pray in your hearts.


Pray:  They have wisdom…need more (Godly wisdom, not just man’s) / have the Spirit…need more / have spiritual gifts…give them more.


Invitation:       have wives join them / “come lay a hand on one of these men, say a prayer for them”

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