Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

“I've Got A Job For You!”

     I have been reading your posts about deacons, and a recent situation that has come up at our church makes me think you might be able to help.  I am not an official deacon at our church.  However, I have been serving our elders by using my unique talents and abilities to perform several chores… some of which were done by previous deacons no longer alive.

At a recent elder/deacon meeting, I was told one deacon expressed concern that I was acting as a deacon.  He felt that I should discontinue the chores (website help, audio/visual support, etc.) until I am recognized as an official deacon.  They all agreed there wasn't anyone better qualified at handling those jobs, but there was apparently still much disagreement on what I could scripturally do, and nothing has come of it.  Can I serve the elders even though I'm not an official deacon, and really what is the difference, so I can explain it?  Thanks.

Not A Deacon

Dear Not A Deacon,

The key to understanding this issue is to remember that all Christians are deacons, but not all Christians are elders’ deacons.  Let us explain.  Jesus was called a deacon to the Jews (Rom 15:8), the apostles were told to be deacons (Mk 9:35), and godly Phoebe was called a deacon to the church (Rom 16:27).  ‘Deacon’ just means ‘servant’.  Every Christian is to be a servant to the church… but only certain qualified men are allowed to be the type of servants that help the elders do their job.

The office of deacon (1 Tim 3:13) is a unique position designed to remove the burden of service from the elders, just like the benevolence situation in Acts 6 placed an added burden on the apostles (Acts 6:2-3).  A deacon, under the oversight of the eldership, has the authority to undertake tasks that normally would require an elder.  Deacons can deal with sensitive issues like benevolence, worship organization, counseling, and church finances that wouldn’t ever be shuffled off on a “normal” church member due to the task’s importance and delicate nature.  These are all areas that an elder would normally have to be very hands-on with, but thanks to deacons, the elders can breathe easier.

There is no hard and fast rule as to what jobs require a deacon and what jobs don’t, but the general principle is: if it requires an elder’s touch, then it can only be delegated to an “elder’s deacon”.