First Baptist Church
Saturday, May 18, 2013
The deacons are spiritual leaders who along with the pastor are charged with the responsibility of leading the church under God's Holy Spirit. They can be seen as those who keep their fingers on the spiritual heartbeat of the church. Should our hearts become sin-sick, should we grasp for things of the world rather than for the things of God, should we allow any root of discontent to grow up among us causing our hearts to become bitter, deacons should serve as our leaders who help bring us back into rhythm, seeking the heartbeat of Christ.
Role of Servant
A deacon can best be understood from the scripture as a servant of Christ, the Church, and others. Baptists often refer to Acts 6:1-6 as a model for choosing deacons. These individuals, who were chosen because of their spiritual depth and wisdom, were commissioned the task of serving the hungry and widowed. I Timothy 3:8-13 also maintains that the role of deacon should be reserved for those possessing spiritual maturity and a heart of service.
Spiritual maturity does not necessarily come with age, but an older candidate (at least age 25) will have had ample opportunity to demonstrate spiritual depth, faithfulness to the Church and a record of service to the Lord Jesus Christ. Spiritual maturity is not limited a person's gender and neither is the commandment to serve one another.
Even though women of the early church were given few rights above property status, the gospel shows women in serving roles. Many traveled with Jesus and the disciples to towns and villages, "helping to support them out of their own means." (Luke 8:1-3) Paul commends Phoebe, a deaconess of the church in Cenchrea in his letter to the church in Rome," (Romans 16:1) and also Junia, whom he refers to as an apostle. (Romans 16:7) There are even places in the New Testament where women are affirmed in their roles of proclamation. Phillip the evangelist, one of the seven mentioned in Acts 6, had four daughters who prophesied (preached). (Acts 21:9)
Luke, begins Acts with a quotation of the prophet Joel saying that "in the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people, your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, you old men will dream dreams, even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18) Therefore, both men and women serve as deacons at First Baptist Church. Whomever the congregation feels led to choose. Male or female, one should live a life that proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ. Such people are worthy of respect, maintain moderation and temperance in habits and demonstrate honesty and trustworthiness in their daily life. Deacons likewise should manage their family and household well and exemplify spiritual leadership in all walks of life. Deacons, like all believers, are expected to give tithes and offerings to the church (Malachi 3:9-10), care for the needs of the poor, hungry and sick, support the pastor in the mission and ministry of the church, and commit themselves to continual growth in their relationship with God.
First Baptist Church will elect one deacon for every 15 resident family units rounded to the next highest multiple of three deacons. One third of the deacon membership will rotate off annually and be replaced by newly elected active deacons. The Treasurer is an ex-officio member if not an elected deacon. Deacons rotating off are not eligible for election as an active deacon for a period of one year.
Our Deacon Covenant
As a deacon, called by Christ and ordained by His church, I promise to serve my Lord with all diligence and commitment. I will strive to conduct my personal affairs with the highest measure of moral integrity, doing nothing that could bring reproach upon the church in times of worship, ministry, and fellowship. I will lead my church in Christian stewardship, cheerfully giving my tithe, my time, and my talents to advance the cause of Christ. My service shall be conducted in a manner that promotes peace, unity, and goodwill among other deacons, and among all church members. I will attend deacons' meetings faithfully, prayerfully considering all issues presented. While at times I may disagree, I will not act disagreeably. If offended, I will respond with grace and forgiveness, putting aside all gossip, bitterness, hatred, and strife. Since the unity and the integrity of the church is at stake, I will maintain strict confidentiality regarding all matters discussed in the meetiings. As a deacon, I will not seek to control but to serve, relying not on the love of power but on the power of love. Trusting only in the power of the Spirit, I promise to keep this covenant as best as I humanly can.