W. Austin Gardner
Minister of Mercy
These notes are taken from a book by Alexander Strauch called Minister of Mercy: The New Testament Deacon
Many churches make the deacons the ruling executives, the official church board, corporate executives more than ministering servants
The word deacon means servant
Sometimes the deacons are placed in a competitive role with the pastors or shepherds of the church
Other churches make the mistake of reducing deacons to glorified church janitors, sanctified grounds keepers.
This is demeaning to the office of a deacon
There would be no need to meet such stringent qualifications if that was all that it meant to be a deacon
Southern Baptist scholar Charles W. Deweese makes the deacon the church factotum, that is, an official who operates in nearly every area of church life: The potential areas of deacon service are unlimited. Deacons can engage in such diverse ministries as teaching, preaching, visiting, becoming involved in social action, counseling, leading in charitable giving, organizing, administrating, carrying out the Lord’s Supper, and meeting basic needs of the pastor.
Such unlimited spheres of service completely blur the distinctive purpose and duties of the New Testament diaconate and can only frustrate deacons.
In their zeal for deacon renewal, many churches have gone too far, beyond the bounds of Scripture. They have placed too much authority and diverse responsibilities into the hands of deacons.
Deacons are placed in various positions of authority that God has not authorized.
The purpose of his book is to help deacons get out of the boardroom or the building-maintenance mentality and into the people-serving mentality.
The deacons’ ministry, therefore, is one that no Christ-centered, New Testament church can ever afford to neglect.
God has given deacons a wonderful ministry of service, mercy, and love to needy people. Indeed, deacons are to emulate our Lord’s example of humble, loving service to needy people. Our Lord highly esteems the deacons’ work, for it is essential to the life and witness of God’s church. Thus we urgently need to rediscover and put into practice a New Testament diaconate.
Deacons are closely associated with the pastor Philippians 1:1, I Timothy 3:8-13, Acts 6
They are working together
The deacons were freeing the hands of the pastor from many of the practical care needs of the congregation so that the pastors or shepherds could give themselves to the ministry of the Word and prayer
The pastors are ruling and laboring in the Word and doctrine I Timothy 5:17-25
Missing from the list of qualifications is the requirement to be apt to teach
Consider verses about the pastor, bishop, elder
Bishop I Timothy 3:1-13, the bishop is the one who is an overseer, takes the oversight
Oversight I Peter 5:1-2, Philippians 1:1 superintendent, manager, supervisor, guardian, controller, inspector, or ruler Acts 20:17, 28 Titus 1:5-7
Pastor’s duty then
Protect the church Acts 20:17, 28-29
Teach the church I Timothy 5:17-18 Titus 1:5, 9 I Timothy 3:2
Lead the church I Peter 5:1-2 I Thessalonians 5:12-13 I Timothy 3:5