By Jim Vogel. Republished with permission from Baptist Bulletin.
No church can be successful without committed leadership. It starts with pastors who are committed to the Word and the people they serve, but it includes deacons who take their role seriously and serve with genuine dedication.
As a pastor, I was privileged to serve alongside some committed, effective deacons. They contributed to the success of the churches I pastored, and I could not have accomplished my ministry without them. Consider this list of 10 commitments that are essential in effective “deaconing.”
A commitment to personal godliness
Deacons must first be personal examples of dedicated Christian living. Churches often suffer when they select deacons primarily on innate leadership ability or business acumen without a corresponding commitment to godliness.
A commitment to the church’s mission and vision
Deacons who are not behind the general ministry direction of the church hinder more than help.
A commitment to the leadership of the pastor(s)
Pastors do not expect their deacons to be blind, unthinking followers with whom there is never a disagreement. However, the Bible teaches that pastors give ultimate leadership in local churches. Men who cannot support their pastors should not serve as deacons.
A commitment to prepare for and attend meetings
Most churches have monthly deacons’ meetings that are central to their ministries of prayer, vision casting, and decision-making. Those who cannot be faithful in attending the meetings will miss important discussions and training opportunities. Additionally, I greatly appreciated deacons who came to meetings prepared, having reviewed the agenda, read pertinent materials, and prayed over important decisions ahead of time.
A commitment to ministry over management
The Biblical role of a deacon is a servant-oriented role, one that values opportunities to help people practically and is marked by humility.
A commitment to teamwork
Shared responsibilities, united prayer, mutual love and support, and joint decision-making characterize the efforts of deacons. Because even godly leaders do not always agree on every issue, deacons should respect the opinions of others and know how to disagree agreeably.
A commitment to caring
Deacons who make personal contacts between Sundays, call on homebound members, and help with visiting the sick in hospitals are modeling genuine caring leadership.
A commitment to training and accountability
Deacons should be trained before and during their service. Those who enthusiastically participate in training events and seek to improve themselves in this ministry are a great asset to any church.
A commitment to confidentiality
At times deacons have discussions and make decisions that must remain confidential. Commitment to confidentiality is needed to protect privacy or to ensure that information is appropriately communicated at the proper time. I suggest that leaders talk regularly about this and hold one another accountable.
A commitment to pray for the ministry individually and corporately
Praise God for deacons who recognize the importance of the spiritual discipline of prayer and set an example for their people.
Jim Vogel (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is executive director of the Northeast Fellowship. This article first appeared in the September/October 2008 Baptist Bulletin.