Deacons - The Administration
Okay now the church has selected their choice for the candidates for the office of deacon. Doesn’t the scripture say in Acts chapter six that they were “appointed over this business?” What is the “business” of the church that a deacon is supposed to do?
I will say here that there are no specific services which are assigned to the deacons in the scriptures. But the “business” of the church is where the deacons are needed the most. The question must be “What are the needs of the church?” Understand this important question will allow the church to find their most able men in such areas as sound financial and business judgment. These men, who are most likely themselves property owners or they are familiar with many economic conditions that will aid them in their particular service. Simply by the nature of their everyday lives, God the Holy Ghost has equipped them to the care of the church business.
We recall that the original seven men in Acts six were “appointed over this business.” This word “business” refers not so much to the financial life of the church as it is for the “needs” of the church. The men in Acts were to serve “tables.” What kind of tables? They were to serve tables of benevolence. Theirs was the physical work of distributing that which was brought for the supply of the needy widows within the church body. And in order for us to understand the “needs” of the church in the New Testament, it is necessary that we take a look at a few passages of scriptures.
Lets start out with Acts 2:44-45, “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” These folks in the early church had everything in common and they provided for their needy from one common fund. This was the business of that first church! And we find that in Acts 4:34-37 that Brother Barnabas and others sold their possessions and put the proceeds into that common fund.
Okay now we see that Acts 6:1-2 tells us that there was a complaint about the distribution of those funds. And there was a “need” for someone, other than the Apostles/Elders to take up the mantle of this work…and the mantle fell upon the deacons.
We see again that an offering that was taken in various churches for the “poor” in Acts 11:29-30. And in 1st Corinthians 16:1-3 we see that this offering provided a regular plan for providing for the needs of the people within the bonds of the church brethren.
Then again in we see that 2nd Corinthians 8-9 seems to be devoted to this subject. Paul tells Timothy about the kind of widows who were to be received and cared for in 1st Timothy 5:3-16. Notice that the primary emphasis in all of these passages is upon the meeting of the “needs” of the people in the church, rather than then upon the fact that deacons were to be responsible for handling the funds. Let’s be very careful now to not loose our focus; we must conclude that the primary role of the deacon is one of service!
And at the same time, it’s necessary that a deacon have God given and God guided leadership abilities as well as administrative skills. These “qualities” are very useful to the church, especially after the spiritual “qualities” are first satisfied. Then it is certain that deacons should be used in the church’s business affairs. They are not the only ones who are to be used in this work, and this is not to be considered to be their soul responsibility by divine right. But it is an area by which they can take the leadership in and render a wonderfully fruitful and faithful service in bringing others into the work for the good of all.
Can I make something very clear here and now? I want to empathize, that the spiritual qualities be first and foremost considered and settled before any man is called upon to handle any church business, money, and property. Consecrations of a man’s capacities as developed in the things of the world and to the things of God are necessary for the proper handling of the business of God’s church.
I’m saying this for a good and sound reason beloved; money is not just only money. And property is isn’t only property. I say this because these things are a reflection of the truth of the things which have been set aside and dedicated to the house of God to use. These things are a part of two worlds, the natural and the spiritual, and the deacon is to be in the world but not of the world. They are entrusted with the offerings of the worshipers, to use in the care of the church building or house, and the “needs” of the congregation. For example, to replace a broken pew, or to repair a leaking roof, or whatever my come up that needs to be taken care of.
So It’s imperative that the person who is handling the business needs of the church have the wisdom of God in the things of this world. He must be blessed with these two “qualities” if the church is to be cared for in a proper manner.
In most churches the pastor and deacons are the trustees for the church to which they serve. This is a good and beneficial thing for the church. It enables them to perform any legal matters that involve the church, such as dealing with the bank account, official property matters, etc.
As a general rule, where it is both possible and practical it is desirable that the deacons assume the responsibility of the church finances, such as in serving as the treasurer. In this capacity he is a steward with the responsibility of receiving all moneys received into the church as offerings. Keeping an accurate record of amounts received, deposited, and paid out in expenses incurred as a result of the use of such services that are needed to maintain the church building and property. But it should be remembered that the office of the deacons is NOT a policy making office. No, we must not loose our focus here; the church is congregational in its government. And the deacons serve according to the will of the church. But it certainly is proper and good for the church to receive the recommendations of both the pastor and the deacons before any important matters involving the distribution of funds before any voting.
And we must understand that each and every member of the church is also a steward just as is both the pastor and the deacon. No church can be considered to be faithful to Her task that does not teach its membership proper Biblical stewardship. And the pastor must preach and teach and the deacon must provide the first example of being faithful in the matter of giving. They ought to be the first to understand and to put into practice the basic Biblical admonition to “give not grudgingly, nor of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver,” (2 Cor 9:7) giving of their own time and labor, and of their financial blessings. The offerings that are brought into the church are undesignated, and will need to be distributed by the will and vote of the church. The pastor, and especially the deacons are one key in this basic New Testament method of stewardship.
Another place where the deacon is indispensable is in the upkeep of the property. The deacon is to take the lead in bringing together and involving the membership to clean and repair the church building and the property as it is needed. And it is the fact that he is a spiritual and dedicated man that enables him to understand that he is to carry out the will of the church membership its business, because he knows that the wisdom that is needed come only by and through God.
We’ll close here for now, and hopefully in our next article we will undertake to consider the actual ordination of the deacon. May God bless us to be good and faithful stewards of His blessings.