The role of deacon at The Edge Church
The word deacon, from the Greek diakonos, means “servant” or “minister.” While all of the Church is called to serve and minister, Scripture also affirms an “office” of deacon in the local church. The Apostle Paul outlines for us this office in both 1 Timothy 3 and in his opening letter to the church in Philippi, as he addresses the church body along with its leaders, the elders and deacons (Philippians 1:1). Deacons are distinct from elders, yet work closely with elders in helping to serve and minister to the church body, particularly as it pertains to addressing practical needs.
What is the purpose of deacons?
Deacons are specific men or women who are members of The Edge Church, chosen and commissioned by the elders of The Edge Church for the purpose of working alongside the elders in serving the church body. These servant-leaders particularly address practical needs and mercy ministries within The Edge Church.
What are the qualifications for deacons?
The Apostle Paul outlines the qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8-12:
8 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11 In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.
Characteristics of a deacon
Dignity: Deacons are to “be worthy of respect”. “Respect” is the Greek word semnos which means “honorable and reputable”. “In the same way” refers to what had just been mentioned previously in 1 Timothy 3:7 regarding the reputation of elders. Similarly, deacons are to be of respectable reputation and worthy of honor from those both in and outside the church.
Sincere: The word “sincere” is also translated as “double-tongued,” meaning that a deacon is to be one who is truthful. This also describes someone who does not say one thing to one person and something else to another.
Temperate: The statement “Not indulging in much wine” is speaking to a character of being “in-control” rather than excessive, dependent or out of control.
Honest stewardship: Not manipulating God’s people or resources for the sake of personal gain, be it financial, positional or the like. This person demonstrates faithfulness and selflessness in stewarding God’s resources in their own lives.
Holds fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience: “Holding fast” speaks to knowing and contending for Truth according to God’s Word. A clear conscience implies that these convictions are lived out. This is a person who knows the truth and lives by it.
Tested: A potential deacon is someone who has proven themselves over time to be faithful to the Lord and His church without grounds for accusation that would call into question holding this office.
Guarded communicator: A potential deacon is one who is careful with their words and communication, both spoken and written. Paul notes that deacons are “not malicious talkers,” meaning that they are careful to guard against communicating in ways that lead to hurt, offense and division. They are able to additionally hold in confidence what has been shared with them without gossiping.
Trustworthy: Being “trustworthy in everything” implies being reliable and faithful. A deacon is someone who can be counted on and displays follow through.
Faithful to spouse: If a deacon is married, they display a true commitment and faithfulness to their spouse.
Manages home well: This directive is aimed at married men with families and carries an expectation that they have proven an ability to lead well in their own home. The idea being that if one isn’t currently fulfilling their responsibility in the home, than they are not fit to lead in God’s house.
Deacons at The Edge Church commit to a one-year term. At the end of each year, the elders re-evaluate with each deacon as to whether that deacon will continue for another year. Deacons may choose to step down at any point throughout the year if they are unable or unwilling to continue serving. Additionally, the elders may ask a deacon to step down from the position at any time by unanimous decision.
In joining this ministry, deacons commit to:
A personal relationship with the Lord
The church and its mission
Prepare for and attend meetings
How are deacons chosen?
Deacons are chosen by the elders of The Edge Church by unanimous decision. They are men or women who are members of The Edge Church who have set a Godly example for the church, been tested and proven over time, and who evidence the qualifications outlined in 1 Timothy 3.
Once a candidate is selected, the elders meet with that individual (or couple) to discuss the position. Deacon candidates are then presented to Edge Church body for confirmation. This gives the church body an opportunity to affirm, reject or raise concerns regarding the deacon nomination. Pending any reason for withdrawing the nomination, the candidate will be added to the deacon team.
What do deacons do?
Deacons operate under the oversight of and in cooperation with the elders of The Edge Church. They will particularly serve The Edge Church by addressing physical needs within the church body and overseeing mercy ministries.
Deacon responsibilities will include but are not limited to:
Regular team meetings
Strategizing on how to best address needs
Developing and implementing action plan
Recruiting volunteers to assist as needed
Addressing physical needs such as:
Overseeing mercy ministries such as:
Frequently asked questions about deacons
What is the difference between a deacon and an elder at The Edge Church? Deacons are distinguished from the elders in that they are not the governing body of The Edge Church nor are they charged with the duty of authoritative teaching or overseeing the spiritual formation of the church body. The deacons’ ministry happens under the oversight and authority of the elders.
Do the deacons focus only on ministry within the church? We are inclined to believe that the office of deacon is focused primarily on serving within the church. In Acts 6, the office was created to solve a problem that arose within the church. This does not mean that there may not be exceptions to this, but this will be the normative practice of deacons.
Why does The Edge Church include women as deacons? The Greek word for deacon can be both masculine and feminine, though this alone does not settle the issue. In outlining the qualifications for deacons, Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:11, “In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.” Now, this could be the wives of deacons, but could also simply be women. The latter is suggested by the fact that elder’s wives are not mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Additionally, deacons are distinguished from elders in that they are not the governing authority of the church nor are charged with the duty of authoritative teaching. So the role of female deacons does not seem to contradict Paul’s instructions regarding elders. Lastly, we know that Paul specifically honors a woman named Phoebe as a deacon of the church in Romans 16:1, where he says “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.” In light of this biblical evidence and an evidence of female deacons throughout church history, The Edge Church affirms both male and female deacons.
Does divorce and remarriage or singleness disqualify a person from the office of deacon? Since the qualifications for elders and deacons regarding marriage are identical, The Edge Church practices the same policy for each office. In short, we do not believe that divorce and remarriage automatically disqualifies an individual from serving in either office. Additionally we do not believe that one must be married in order to serve as an elder or deacon.
The qualification given for both elders and deacons regarding their marriages is that the candidate be “the husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2, 12, Titus 1:6). Directly rendered, the Greek phrase reads “a one-woman man.” The text is teaching that if one is married, the elder or deacon must be absolutely committed to their spouse. These texts speak to the subject of fidelity in marriage, not marital status. This phrase addresses the issues of polygamy or fidelity in marriage, not divorce or singleness.
This does not mean divorce is insignificant or of no consequence when considering someone for the office of elder or deacon. The elders will carefully consider each candidate for deacon and determine whether or not it is right for them to lead the church in this position.