What is a deacon?
The word deacon (Greek = diakonos) simply means servant or minister. There are numerous passages in the New Testament that use diakonos (Rom. 16:1, Eph. 6:21, Col. 1:7, Col. 4:7, Phil. 1:1). In one sense, all God’s people are called as “servants” or “deacons.” However, Acts 6:1-6 offers a description of some who are specially called to serve in a formalized capacity (v. 2) to enable the elders to devote themselves “to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (v. 4). Deacons are not part of the governing leadership of the local church, that responsibility resides solely within the elder team. Rather, these organized servants, who are under the oversight and direction of the elder team, are designated with the title of deacon (Phil. 1:1) and are called to meet specific biblical qualifications, as laid out in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
What is the role of a deacon?
Since Acts 6:1-7 is descriptive and not prescriptive about the exact duties of a deacon, there is freedom for elders to organize them as fits best, depending on the context and needs, within a particular local church. At the direction of the elder team, Grace Bible Church (GBC) deacons will be assigned to lead and/or be members of the Serving Teams.
How does a man become a deacon at GBC?
The elder team shall nominate a man, examine him during a period of candidacy to see if he is biblically qualified, present him before the covenant membership for wisdom, and then formally appoint him to the office of elder. First and foremost though, a potential deacon must be a man who is actually “deaconing”…serving. In other words, no man will become a deacon if he is not already serving.
Where are we in the candidacy process?
First, the candidacy process is not over. The elder team is presenting the deacon candidates to the covenant membership to gain their wisdom and insight.
These men, after being nominated by the elder team to be deacon candidates, have completed a rigorous process of evaluation by the elder team. Nothing was identified as disqualifying, according to the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:8-13, and they have each proven, through active service, to possess exemplary character and to be active servants.
What are the elders looking for from the covenant membership in this part of the process?
Over the next thirty days, between now through October 26nd, the covenant membership exercises the primary role in the candidacy process through their responsibility to offer wisdom and insight about these candidates. This is not a perfunctory part of the process, but is a critical step in helping the elders to confirm that these men have the character qualifications and servant’s heart to be a deacon of GBC*.
Covenant members are asked to direct their thoughts about a deacon candidate to any or all members of the elder team, either in person, in writing, or by electronic communication. Anonymous information cannot be considered.
The elder team will welcome and consider all wisdom and observations (both warnings and encouragement) about the candidate’s personality, biblical qualifications, and service. The elder team may ask the covenant member to also speak with the candidate directly.
If a covenant member has an accusation of sin against one of them men, for the love of brother, the member should follow Matthew 18:15 and speak first with him. If any concern remains, the member should follow Matthew 18:16 and “take one or two witnesses with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” If any concern still remains, then the member should speak directly with any or all of the elder team for the pursuit of reconciliation. If any concern still remains, the elder team shall then decide whether to enter into the formal restoration process, as outlined in the GBC Restoration Policy.
* Covenant members are encouraged to read, 1 Timothy 3:8-13 which list the biblical qualifications for a deacon and listen to the sermon. Additionally, they are encouraged to read Section 1 Qualifications in the Handbook for Deacons.