In Acts chapter 6 we read of a difficulty that arose in the life of the early church. In the attempt to meet the temporal needs of the widows in their community some were being neglected. There was a problem with how the church was carrying out their benevolent ministry. The Apostles made it clear that be-cause of their responsibility of preaching the Word and prayer they could not do justice to this part of the Church’s work. However, they believed that ministering to the needs of people was of such importance and such an essential part of the Church’s call that there should be a group of leaders who were “…of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, who we will appoint to this duty” (Acts 6:3). Thus the ministry of the deacons was born. The first Christian martyr, Stephen, was among them.
The word deacon comes from the Greek word diakonos which means “servant.”
Like elders, deacons are ordained officers in the church, but unlike elders who are called to oversee the church, they are to be the hands and feet of the church in service. With a profound love for God’s people, deacons work directly with people to serve their needs as opportunities and resources are available. Though distinct from the work of our Mission Leadership Team, deacons have a similar heart for people, a generous and helpful spirit, and a desire to reach out to others as they see the face of Christ in those in need. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40, ESV).
Our deacons fulfill many ministries in the church, often-times behind the scenes without fanfare or recognition. Deacons’ motivation is their love for Jesus and His people. They live out Jesus’ example when He said, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). This love is expressed through their Visitation Ministry, Prayer Shawl Ministry, and Home Communion Ministry; by providing food baskets at holiday times, Veteran’s Care, and Christmas gifts through the Manger Tree Ministry. Deacons step up to help with New Member Orientation classes, Sunday morning hospitality during our fellowship time after our worship services, and by providing support and prayer for families in grief at memorial services. Our deacons provide flowers for the homebound at Christmas and Easter, pray for the pastoral staff as they prepare to enter the sanctuary to preach, and organize volunteers to ring bells for the Salvation Army collection during the weeks before Christmas. Deacons honor our First Responders by organizing the card shower and baked goods delivery to several stations throughout our community. A new program will be launched when the pandemic is past focusing on our precious 90-year-old plus members, and will no doubt be expanded to others as it grows. Deacons even have a representative serving on the Mission Leadership Team and the Nominating Committee, and a liaison who attends Session meetings.
If all of this were not enough, you will find deacons serving throughout the church in virtually every ministry this church offers. May we give thanks to these dedicated servants of God as they not only serve but give a splendid witness and example of what Jesus meant when He said, “The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matthew 23:11).
by Pastor Steven Grant