The word deacon simply means servant, and I appreciate our five deacons: Pedro Sarmiento, Henry Ashe, Gerhard Theurich, Dick Welsh, and Matt Rowley. Although Acts 6 doesn’t use the word deacon, the pattern there lines up with the qualifications of a deacon in 1 Tim. 3.
The role of a deacon in Scripture is never a ruling role in Scripture. The expectation in 1 Tim. 3 is for them to be spiritual, but they’re not expected to teach or to lead; simply to serve.
Our deacons serve regularly by staying after the services on Sundays to count the offering. It usually takes over 30 minutes, and that’s one of the many ways that they serve.
The deacons help to serve the Lord’s Supper. The deacons serve by caring for people, and just this week, for example, Bro. Ashe spent time on the phone and in the hospital with people that he cares for. All of our deacons work at ministering (serving) throughout the week.
Choosing deacons in Acts 6 was an appointment from the congregation, so we as a congregation will nominate men from among us, and we will vet the nominations based on the biblical qualifications:
- Full of faith and the Holy Ghost (Acts 6:3, 5). Obviously, this means that they be saved, baptized, active, and faithful members of our church.
- In full doctrinal agreement with our church constitution and Statement of Faith.
- The deacons nominated will be evaluated based on 1 Tim. 3:8–12:
- 1 Timothy 3:8-12 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
- The statement “let them first be proved” is similar to the “not a novice” of the pastoral qualifications in verse 6, and the “lay hands suddenly on no man” phrase from 5:22—statements which tell us to wait and watch a while to see whether a man if faithful before appointing him to be a deacon. Since our deacons are voted on once per year, our preference is to wait at least a year before a man is considered for being a deacon.
- The statement “husband of one wife” would exclude a man who has been divorced in his past. Although a deacon is not in a ruling role, his position is still to be exemplary. His marriage and child-rearing are to reflect the ideals of God. Although it is not explicitly stated here in 1 Tim. 3, I believe Jesus held the highest ideal of marriage for both parties, because he said in Matthew 19:9, “whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”
- I do not consider it some kind of perpetual adultery to marry someone who is divorced—God’s grace is great enough to cover all our past, present, and future sins (they were all future at the cross!)—but in this area of marriage, there’s a higher standard for the two church offices of pastor and deacon.
- Divorce does not exclude a man from other ministries, nor from preaching, but only from the biblical offices. Several of our men with divorces in their past have served (and currently are serving) in discipleship, retirement homes, military ministry, jail ministry, as Sunday school teachers, and much more.
So our process for new deacons is:
- Submit names of men you might think would be a good deacon
- We will evaluate them and interview them, and if they agree, then
- We will include their name on the ballot in January, to which you will simply vote yes/no.
Just in case you were curious, here’s what our church constitution says about officers:
ARTICLE IV — OFFICERS
SECTION 4.01 — CHURCH OFFICERS
The officers of the church shall be the pastor (also called an elder or bishop in Scripture), deacon, minister of finance, minister of Sunday school, and church clerk. One person may hold more than one office, except that of the pastor. The pastor, from time to time as he deems appropriate, may appoint other church officers, subject to confirmation vote of the church membership. All officers or persons holding positions in this church shall be members in good standing.
SECTION 4.02 — DESIGNATION OF CORPORATE OFFICERS
As an accommodation to legal relationships outside the church, the pastor shall serve as president of the corporation; the church clerk shall serve as secretary of the corporation; the minister of finances shall serve as treasurer of the corporation; and the chairman of the deacons shall serve as the vice president of the corporation.
SECTION 4.03 — ELIGIBILITY FOR OFFICE
(A) The church shall not instate or retain an officer who fails to adhere to, or expresses disagreement with the Statement of Faith. All church officers, upon request of the pastor shall affirm their agreement with the Statement of Faith (as set forth in Article II).
(B) Only church members are eligible for election or appointment to any church office or position.
SECTION 4.04 — ELECTION OF OFFICERS
Election of officers shall normally occur at the annual meeting of the members, but election of officers may occur at other scheduled administration meetings when necessary due to resignations or dismissal of officers of the church. A quorum shall consist of 30% of the current voting membership of the church. The church clerk shall keep current membership records and determine if a quorum is present at any administration meeting.
SECTION 4.05 — TERMS OF OFFICE
(A) The relationship between the pastor and the church shall be permanent unless dissolved at the action of either party by giving a month’s notice, or less with mutual consent. The calling of a pastor or severance of the relationship between the pastor and the church may be considered at any regular or called church administration meeting, provided notice to that effect shall have been given from the pulpit to the church two (2) Sundays prior to said administration meeting. A 3/4 majority of eligible members present, and voting shall be required to call a pastor, or to sever the relationship between the pastor and the church. Disciplinary removal of the pastor from office automatically terminates his membership in the church. A restoration to membership after disciplinary removal will be subject to the requirements of Section 3.01 D.
(B) The term of service for all officers and positions in the church, except the pastor, shal(C) A vacancy occurring in any office, except the office of the pastor, may be filled by the pastor’s appointment, subject to ratification by the church at the next called administration meeting.
(D) All elected and appointed officers shall serve in their respective offices until their successors are duly elected or appointed.
SECTION 4.06 — PASTORAL OVERSIGHT OF THE OFFICERS AND STAFF
Assistants to the pastor, associate pastors, secretaries, and all full or part-time workers shall be placed on the staff or dismissed by the authority of the pastor. They shall work for and with the pastor and shall be answerable to him. The pastor shall be responsible to the church for their conduct and actions in the performance of their duties. Any salaries for the above mentioned workers shall be set by the pastor and deacons and approved within the annual church budget.
ARTICLE V — DUTIES AND POWERS OF OFFICERS
SECTION 5.01 — THE PASTOR
(A) Qualifications: The qualifications of the pastor are those given in (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). The pastor must be an ordained Baptist minister and must be in full agreement with the accepted Articles of Faith of this church.
(B) Term of Office: The pastor shall be called for an indefinite term.
(C) Salary: The pastor’s salary shall be set at the time of call and may be changed by a vote of the members, as recommended by the deacons, at the annual administration meeting. All salaries at Calvary Baptist Church, Temecula, shall be reviewed annually by the deacons. Salaries shall be voted upon as part of the annual church budget presented at the annual administration meeting of the church.
(D) Sick pay and vacation pay: Pastor shall be given sick time off with full pay and paid vacation time according to the following schedule. The pastor shall reasonably give two (2) weeks advance notice to the deacons of his intent to take vacation time off.
Vacation Years of Service
2 weeks after one full year; 3 weeks after 5 full years; 4 weeks after 15 full years.
SECTION 5.02 — DUTIES OF THE PASTOR
The pastor shall act as the shepherd of the church membership, recognizing the Lord Jesus Christ as the Chief Shepherd and Head of the Church. The pastor shall have the oversight of the church as Scripture dictates: “feed the flock of God which is among you, taking oversight thereof not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2-3).
The pastor shall conduct the services of the church, preach the gospel, preach the whole counsel of God, administer the ordinances, watch over the membership, extend the right hand of fellowship to all new members, promote the spiritual interests of the church, organize, and develop its strength for the best possible service. The pastor shall appoint members of various committees as needed to assist in carrying out the ministry of the church.
Any use of church facilities for other than regular weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual church services and meetings must be approved by the pastor.
In the event of his absence from the pulpit, the pastor shall select the speaker to fill it. The pastor shall moderate all church administration meetings and shall act as president of the corporation as set out in the corporation laws of the State of California. The pastor shall present an annual report to the members outlining the progress of the church in the past year and the goals for the upcoming year.
SECTION 5.03 — DEACONS
The qualifications of deacons are given in (Acts 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 3:8-13). The deacon board shall consist of three or more members.
SECTION 5.04 — DUTIES OF DEACONS
The deacons shall serve the church under the leadership of the pastor and shall help him in the work of the church. As in (Acts 6:1–6), they shall look to the pastor for their special appointments and work. Any special projects performed by deacons shall be done with the approval of the pastor. The deacons shall serve the Lord’s Table and assist the pastor in the performance of his duties. They shall visit the sick and administer the relief work of the church, and shall assist the pastor in the visitation program of the church.
Each deacon shall have a portion of the church membership assigned to him. He is to follow up on any from his list who are absent and contact them. He will help get out the word on special days and revivals etc. by calling those on his list. He will keep the pastor informed of any on his list who are ill, hospitalized or who need the pastors attention. Deacons shall hear testimony of those requesting membership and then determine if those persons have:
(1) A clear testimony and understanding of their salvation.
(2) A Biblical baptism by immersion subsequent to their salvation.
(3) Agreement to the church constitution and Statement of Faith.
In the event the church is without a pastor, the deacons shall select three (3) from among their number who shall serve as a pulpit committee. Deacons may select 2 or more men from the membership to aid in serving on the pulpit committee as needed. In the event the church does not have qualified deacons when the pastorate is vacant, a pulpit committee shall be elected from the membership.
The deacons shall act as trustees for the corporation, in compliance with the corporation laws of the state of California. As such, they shall be empowered to execute deeds of trust, mortgage liens, promissory notes or other pecuniary obligations, and to transfer, assign, and convey all church property or any part thereof upon official recorded instructions of the church. The deacons shall sign all papers with this title (trustee), affixing their names and signatures only as members of the board and not as individuals. The deacons, acting as trustees, shall not be personally liable for any financial commitment of the church. Included in the deacon’s responsibilities shall be development and proposal of the annual budget of the church.
The deacon board, following each annual administration meeting of the church, shall elect from among their number a chairman who shall serve as vice president of the corporation and a secretary to keep the minutes of the deacon’s meetings.
-Pastor Ryan Rench