The Role of Deacon is Secondary…Huh?

Thank you to everyone who has sent me messages in response to my last post, Is It OK If I Nominate You…?

I received a couple messages that presented a misguided view of the leadership of the church.  One person said:

“Maybe this is the natural progression for you.  You were  an usher, then you joined the evangelism committee, and then become chairman…Deacon…is the next logical step in the progression to elder.”

Another said,

“The Deaconry is where you obtain training to become and elder.”

I am not trying to be rude here…but please excuse me while I bang my head on my keyboard. 🙂

OK. Done.

Now where were we?

ImageOh yeah… Nowhere does the bible say that there is a progression  to become an elder.   Nowhere! There are criteria that must be met and that’s it!  I don’t remember anywhere in the books of Timothy that it said, after the deacon had served 3 years, let him take 1 year off and then become an elder... They are two completely different offices!  To think of the office deacon as where you train to become an elder is simply wrong. These two offices have very different functions, and they require different skill sets. Yes there are overlaps and some men would do great work for God and the Church in either office – elder or deacon. In fact I know a few men in our congregation that would be well suited to either role! The fact is, these offices aren’t in competition with one another.  One is not above or below the other! The office of Deacon and Elder complement each other.

The most damaging outcome from viewing the role of elder as better, or higher than deacon is that the work of the deacons can be dismissed as “not that important,” or “secondary” as one reader said to me:

“ The role of elder is much more demanding…  deacon is secondary…”

So what is the role of deacon?  Our Church order says this:

The specific duties of the office of deacon are to see to the good progress of the service of charity in the congregation; to acquaint themselves with existing needs and difficulties and exhort the members of Christ’s body to show mercy; and further, to gather and manage the offerings and distribute them in Christ’s name according to need. They shall encourage and comfort with the Word of God those who receive the gifts of Christ’s love, and promote with word and deed the unity and fellowship in the Holy Spirit which the congregation enjoys at the table of the Lord.

That is beautiful.  Isn’t it? Now, does that sound “secondary” to you? Let me expand if I may…Deacons are called to promote faithful stewardship in the congregation, they are called to seek justice for the poor, the needy, the widowed, the orphaned, the hurting, the sick. Deacons are called to stimulate God’s people to worship and glorify Him with their time, their talents, and their money. Deacons are called stimulate the congregation to show compassion for the needy, they are to, themselves, show compassion, they are called to be encouragers, and called to be sensitive counselors of God’s people.

Secondary?  If you really held that position please…give your head a shake…That, right there, is not a secondary role.  Elders AND Deacons work together, hand in hand to advance the Kingdom of God.  OR at least they should.

Whether as an elder or a deacon or a layperson we should, all of us, be serving where we are gifted. So please do your part.  Be involved.  Find somewhere to serve! And prayerfully and thoughtfully consider men to nominate for this vacancy (or any vacancy), in so doing you will be active in the body.

Elders and Deacons.  Together.  Complementing each other, by God’s grace…advance the kingdom of God.

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  1. eloleddie says:

    While I might have worded things differently, I would maintain what you have said. The offices of Elder and Deacon are different, but both require understanding of Scriptures, the wisdom one receives thought understanding Scriptures and being able to use these to direct the members of the body of Christ – Read, for examples, Acts where the deacons are first chosen(I detest the word elected, as it smacks to much of some democratic action – and democracy is not found in the church!) – a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit! and look at the work done by them – by Stpehen and Philip! Some men can ably carry out the office of Elder, but would not be able to carry out the office of deacon and vice versa – the one office is not the training ground for the other office – that would be a belittling of the initial office!

  2. garrett says:

    This is such a common opinion that it drives me a little insane when I hear it. I agree with Ryan, these too offices are separate. The one should never be viewed as and definitely never treated as training ground for the other.

  3. ED J. Finnegan says:

    For my information,How is a Deacon ranked as regards a consecrated individual such as a Sister or Brother. living in community?