Eric Doucet Pastor Texas Avenue Baptist Church, College Station, Texas
Several years ago, I preached a sermon entitled “Deacons: Who Needs Them?”. That’s a loaded question if there ever was one. Deacons have the potential to destroy a church and/or pastor’s ministry or to help build a church and prolong a pastor’s ministry. Therefore, it is vital that pastors learn to work with deacons for the success of the church and the sanity of the pastor. Unfortunately, most Bible colleges don’t offer courses on working with deacons, causing many pastors to have to learn the hard way how to (or how not to) work with deacons.
The point of the sermon I preached was that the church, the pastor, and even unbelievers benefit from having deacons who serve well. I have found that there are several principles that pastors and deacons must understand if they are going to honor God by working well together.
First, we must understand the main purpose of deacons and this purpose must be communicated to the church, especially those who serve as deacons. According to Acts 6:1-7, the ministry to widows was taking away from the ministry of the Word. Though the word ‘deacon’ is not expressly mentioned in this text, it is apparent that the communication of God’s Word is the primary function of pastors. Therefore, the primary purpose of deacons is to free pastors up to teach the Word of God and pray. Obviously, godly wisdom is needed to see how this principle is put into practice in individual churches. Unquestionably, churches benefit greatly when this principle is taught and practiced.
Next, unity must be the church’s priority. The selfish ambitions and agendas of pastors and deacons is not the priority. Many church reputations have suffered because of conflicts between pastors and deacons, resulting in division usually over really important, eternal things like carpet colors, nursery rules, and music choices. Yet, in John 17:21 Jesus stated that church unity was vital to the believability of the Gospel message. Why would unbelievers believe a message from a group of people at odds with one another, yet who say they are all following the same God at the same church and reading the same Bible? Pastors and deacons must lead the way in making unity the priority of the church.
Finally, lead the church to select qualified men according to God’s standard as set forth in 1 Timothy 3 and Acts 6. The deacon selection process should not be a popularity contest, nor should deacons be selected because they are “good ole boys.” Men should be chosen who are “of good reputation [and] full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.” Pastors will benefit greatly from having godly men serving with them and churches will benefit from having godly men serve them.