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.”
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.
Deacons who are not behind the general ministry direction of the church hinder more than help.
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.
One of the perennial challenges that face congregations and the leaders that lead them is the question of how to add individuals to either the elder team or the deacon team. Challenges abound. If congregations are not very careful, they run the risk of leading the church in either one of two directions. The first is a kind of oligarchy where only a select few could ever be elected, even if there is a larger pool of available individuals that could be selected from.
In this first scenario the major concern is not, “Who is biblically qualified?” but rather, “Who will be blindly loyal to the few leaders who have always controlled the congregation?” In this first extreme the leadership of the church has a total “lock-down” control of the church-life.
The second, equally bad, approach is found in churches where the leadership has absolutely no control over the process of electing leaders. In this second extreme, the leadership is under the control of a hyper-congregational “pure democracy.”
In seeking a biblical answer to the extremes, today’s leaders face a challenge in the area of biblical interpretation. There are occasions when the Apostle Paul simply appointed or had one of his apostolic representatives “appoint” elders or leaders (example – Titus 1:5). The question here is, “Is there any sense in which that practice can be adopted by church leaders today?” (Paul was an apostle – we are not!) The answer is yes … and no.