Deacons Must Equip Members for Service

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I mentioned in my last blog (Hot Air Balloons and the Role of Deacons) that many deacons are not prepared for ministry prior to ordination. They then fall into negative patterns—such as believing that they alone are responsible to carry out their ministry obligations. 

This is irrational and unbiblical thinking. In Acts 6, “the Seven” (deacon prototypes) had to have wisdom and the Holy Spirit in order to manage their new ministry. They needed help to provide for the widows within the cities walls and others outside as well. Therefore, a primary role of the deacon is to equip and mobilize the saints, teaching the "how-to's" of diaconal and mercy ministry to church members. According to my PCA Book of Church Order, “The office [of deacon] is one of sympathy and service after the example of the Lord Jesus. It expresses also the communion of saints, especially in their helping one another in time of need. It is the duty of the deacons to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless and to any who may be in distress.”

But, it is not the deacons’ task to be “lone rangers” in their ministry. Ephesians 4 calls for the equipping of the saints by church leaders. And, as leaders, deacons should not only minister in the name of the church, but should encourage the church’s body of believers to fulfill the ministry of mercy and service to which the Lord calls all members. The Book of Church Order continues, “It is expedient that. . . a church should select and appoint godly men and women of the congregation to assist the deacons in caring for the sick, the widows, the orphans, the prisoners, and others who may be in any distress or need.” 

Without a properly equipped membership, deacons will certainly succumb to compassion fatigue or burn-out. 1 Timothy 24:7 does not say deacons are charged to do all the work of the church.  And the Book of Church Order does not propose that deacons model for the congregation the various ways of burning out outlined by Elijah in 1 Kings 19. 

Deacons must stimulate church members to action— helping the body of believers follow their Master, who said that He came to serve (to deacon), not to be served (see Matt. 20: 28). 

What are your thoughts? Are the deacons at YOUR church acting as "lone rangers"? 

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Great post, David! How often I am scared to step into a leadership position out of a fear of being the 'lone ranger'. Great reminder that even the earliest disciples needed to be equipped by the Holy Spirit to train other disciples. Thanks for sharing!

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