Celebrating Deacons

Recently, Calvary had the privilege of ordaining six new deacons. What a special time for our church. This article will give some brief thoughts about the qualifications of deacons provided in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. Also, it will address some of the questions this passage raises about deacons and concludes with a thankful tribute to those deacons serving our Calvary family.

Question #1: What is the difference between a deacon and an overseer?

The qualifications for deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13) immediately follows the qualifications for overseers (1 Timothy 3:1-7). The difference between the two offices involves different roles. Deacons focus on the role of service – service to the poor and needy and service to the church in general. Overseers (i.e., Pastors/Elders) focus on the role of teaching the word of God and leading the church. Both groups are called to be exemplary role models for the church and both should work together to enable the church to function as a healthy body of Christ. Although deacons and pastors may have different roles, they are both called to exemplify the same godly character.

Question #2: Can women serve as deacons?

Obviously, Calvary answered this question about twenty years ago with an affirmative “yes.” However, many have noticed that this makes Calvary somewhat unique for a Baptist church. It is helpful to know that there is a good biblical argument in favor of women deacons and that a number of evangelical theologians support this view. It is also helpful to know that supporting women deacons is different than supporting women pastors/overseers, which is an entirely different issue. Furthermore, it is well documented that there were women deacons in the 2nd and 3rd century church. This early evidence of women deacons supports the view that Phoebe in Romans 16:1 was actually a deacon and not just a faithful servant of the church in Cenchreae.

Question #3: Can deacons drink alcohol?

Actually, the qualifications for both pastors and deacons addresses the issue of alcohol. 1 Timothy 3:3 says that an overseer must not be “given to drunkenness” and 1 Timothy 3:8 says that deacon must not “indulge in much wine.” These passages are telling both pastors and deacons that they must be good role models with alcohol. The scriptural guidelines do not forbid drinking, as long as it is in moderation. Getting drunk is clearly crossing the line and must be avoided. Furthermore, this principle applies to all believers (see Ephesians 5:18), but seems to be especially important for pastors and deacons.

A tribute to Calvary’s deacons:

When I was serving on Calvary’s staff during the early 1990’s, the relationship between the pastor and the deacons was not very healthy. At that time, the deacons functioned more as overseers (or elders) and deacon meetings were sometimes critical and contentious. Not so today. I am very grateful that today’s deacon body at Calvary is focused on service. I am thankful that today’s deacon body at Calvary is committed to partnering with the pastor and church staff to help our church be spiritually healthy and to fulfill our mission. In short, I am thankful to serve with our deacons who frequently encourage me, inspire me, and serve me. Rich blessings to our six new deacons who will be joining this important group of ministers at Calvary. We are thankful for you and for all of our deacons.

Scott

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