June was a whirlwind of activities for our church with the mission team to Ecuador being gone, VBS, student camp, and Nail benders trip. July promises to be just as busy: July 1st, the association is hosting the annual Celebrate God and America Independence Day Celebration. This event starts at 7pm and concludes with the firework show at 8:45pm. July 2nd, we will be celebrating Independence Day at the church and will have a meal together afterwards in the fellowship hall. On July 9th, we vote on the deacons that have been nominated and will hear a recap from the Ecuador trip. On July 16th, I will be attending my last seminar for my doctorate and Tanner will be preaching and giving us a recap from their student camp. July 23rd, we will hear from Nail-benders an update from their trip. And then we will conclude the month on July 30th by observing the Lord’s Supper.
Since we are voting on deacons this month let us look together at what makes a good deacon (1 Timothy 3:1-13; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Titus 1:5-9; Hebrews 13:17). Here in these passages we see the roles of pastors and deacons, let us first look at the similarities. Both are to have blameless reputation (1 Timothy 3:2,10), a manager of home (v.2,4,12), Godly character (v.2,3,8), and spiritual maturity (v.6,9). Now that we have seen the similarities, let us look at the distinct roles of pastors and deacons.
Teaching vs Well-taught: Paul’s list to Timothy demonstrates one main distinction that is significant to understanding the different roles of these two offices: the pastor is to be able to teach (v.2). The pastor’s calling is one of preaching and teaching God’s Word in such a way that guards the good deposit of the Gospel that is entrusted to this office (2 Timothy 1:14). Though we have a narrative account in Acts 8 of a deacon who instructed others in the faith, nowhere does Scripture require public teaching as a responsibility of a deacon. Holding fast to the clear teachings of the faith is required of both pastors and deacons, the implied reason being that neither would swerve from Gospel faithfulness. But the added reasons for exhortation and refutation of false teaching are applied only to the pastor. In summary, a pastor is to preach and teach the Gospel, and train others to do the same. A deacon, although may be able to teach, is to be a man of the Gospel serving to free the pastor for his main calling.
Oversight vs. Service: The office of a pastor is also referred to as an overseer (v.1), which captures another distinct role from the role of a deacon. Peter affirms this distinction as he exhorts his fellow pastors to shepherd the flock by exercising oversight eagerly, sacrificially, and humbly (1 Peter 5:2-3). A deacon’s primary roles is that of service. This is not to say that deacons do not oversee certain ministries, nor does this imply that pastors should not serve. But this refers to the primary biblical role of each office where the pastors exercise oversight (lead, oversee, administrate) over all matters within the local church and the deacons lead in service, under the submission of the pastor.
Shepherding vs. Practical doing: Peter exhorts the pastors regarding their primary calling, shepherding the flock (1 Peter 5:2). The office of a pastor is an extension of the care of the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). Most of the qualifications of the pastor (1 Timothy 3:1-7) demonstrate the heart of a shepherd who should be willing to lay down his life for his flock. Although there is shepherding involved in the role of a deacon at times, the primary gifts needed in a deacon are one of skill sets that allow a deacon to serve in a variety of roles that fill the unique and pressing physical needs of a church. Though men selected to serve the widows by the Apostles in Acts 6:1-7 are not called deacons, they present a helpful proto-type of the role of deacons that is established later in the church. Ultimately, deacons will not give an account to the Chief Shepherd for the souls of their flock, the office of the pastor is the only office that assumes this weighty, joyful burden (1 Peter 5:1-4; Hebrews 13:17).
Why is this important you might ask? It is important because churches that lose their way and eventually forfeit spiritual vibrancy often do so as a result of a sloppy evaluation of those who would step up to serve in these two biblical offices. When a church stops vetting those who would serve as pastors and deacons and those roles become filled by those who are unqualified, death of the church is imminent. Therefore, as you cast your vote on July 9th, do not vote because you think they are nice guys, do not vote because you hope that becoming a deacon they will start meeting these qualifications, vote because you are affirming that these men already are living this type of life. And just to be clear I have not seen who all has been nominated, so this is not an article that was inspired by someone on the ballot, but an article inspired by the importance of these two roles in the leading of our church from dying to becoming a healthy church once again.
To Stay up-to-date on all that is going on at the church make sure you check us out online. You can also see recap videos and past sermons at these links as well:
July 2nd Morning: Genesis 10-11 Evening: No Service
July 9th Matthew 5:24-30 Hebrews
July 16th Tanner Preaching
July 23rd Luke 11:24-26 Hebrews
July 30th Hebrews 3 Hebrews