We currently enjoy the ministry of these six Deacons:
What are Deacons and what do they do?
1 Tim 3:8-13
Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
The Scriptures seem to show that the Elders “serve by leading” and that their responsibility involves the spiritual oversight of the congregation. The council of elders is responsible for the primary leadership and oversight of the church. They protect the flock, feed the flock, and lead the flock of God.
So while the elders “serve by leading,” it seems to me that Deacons “lead by serving” (Acts 6). The qualifications for Elders and Deacons are the same regarding an individual’s character, but they differ in aptitude. The elders are to be “able to teach” while the deacons are to be “able and proved as servants.”
The Function of Deacons
The function of deacons is not spelled out here, but the qualifications for deacons suggest some functions.
Acts 6:1-7 ESV
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
Here the apostles who ruled over the Jerusalem church found it necessary to delegate some administrative responsibilities to others. In this case, the responsibilities included the distribution of food to widows who were in need. It seems appropriate to think of these seven men as “deacons” even though the name deacon had perhaps not yet come to be applied to them as they began this responsibility, for they seem to be given tasks which fit well with the responsibilities of deacons hinted at in 1 Timothy 3:8-12.
It is significant that nowhere in the New Testament do deacons have ruling authority over the church as the elders do, nor are deacons ever required to be able to teach Scripture or sound doctrine.
Some of the areas that our deacons concentrate on include:
Facilities: The deacons are deeply involved in managing the church property. This includes regular maintenance, repairs, renovations, parking assistance, and security for all public services.
Finances: While the elders oversee the financial business of the church (Acts 11:30), the deacons handle the finances related to their ministry. This could be expanded to include collecting and counting the offering, keeping records, preparing the budget in consultation with the council of elders, and so on.
Benevolence: Similar to what took place in Acts 6:1–6 with the daily distribution to the widows, the deacons are involved in administrating funds or other assistance to the needy.
Communion & Baptism: The deacons could be responsible for the preparation of the Lord’s Table on Communion Sundays, and serving the elements with the pastors and elders. The deacons could be responsible for the baptism tank and preparation for Baptism Sundays.
Ministry to Widows: The deacons could establish a widows’ list and review it regularly. Call and visit every widow in our church family.
Ministry to Shut-ins: The deacons could establish a list of all who are unable to attend services because of physical or emotional problems. Regular contact with shut-ins needs to be maintained. Through visits, calls, and special services held in their homes, they will know that they are not forgotten.
Logistics: Deacons should be available to help in variety of ways so that the elders are able to concentrate on teaching and shepherding the church.