What should deacons do?
If Acts 6:1-7 is to be our example and guide, the work of deacons may be defined as: whatever the congregation decides it needs, as prompted by the leadership, as chosen by the congregation, as solves the situation, and as will enhance the proclamation of the gospel.
We would appreciate a few more examples from Scripture as to what deacons did in the early church. Not having them, we are left to follow the few principles found there and the leading of the Holy Spirit as we perceive it.
Before sharing our list of 50 acts of deacon service, let us make these five observations concerning their work:
1. There is no definitive list anywhere giving the responsibilities of deacons.
2. The guiding principles seem to be a) whatever the church needs and b) the leadership supports.
3. Deacons are servants and are not found to be in authority over anyone anywhere in Scripture.
4. We should think of deacons as “leading from the rear.” They keep the flock together, take care of stragglers, work for unity, and help the fallen along the way. The pastor or pastors ride point. (Anyone dismissing this work as unimportant needs to think again.)
5. The work of deacons will vary from church to church, and from year to year. But, as in Acts 6:7, their service should always reflect so positively on the Lord Jesus Christ that outsiders will want to join such a wonderful fellowship.
One more observation: Once we remove a church’s body of deacons from any kind of authoritative, governing responsibility, the issue of whether a church can have women deacons becomes pointless. Every church needs women servants; pity the church that has none.
Here, then, are 50 ways in which deacons may serve the Lord’s people. The order is completely random, and will require tweaking over the next few days as we edit out redundancies and add others.
1. Chaperone youth and children’s meetings at the church.
2. Chaperone youth and children’s trips away from the church.
3. Take care of handyman jobs around the homes of the elderly and poor.
4. Organize church-wide “paint-up/fix-up” projects for the church facilities.
5. Fill in for absent Sunday School teachers.
6. Minister to church families that have lost their homes by fire.
7. Help the unemployed in the church to find jobs or get training for new jobs.
8. Giving benevolently to the needy.
9. Seeing to the families of members in the hospital.
10. Build a handicapped ramp for members who live in wheel chairs.
11. Clear trees after tornadoes.
12. Cook for picnics for special groups in the church (adoptive families, families of the incarcerated, etc.).
13. Demolish an old building at the church in order to clear space for the new youth or children’s building.
14. Sponsor a yard sale to support special needs school.
15. Conduct a Sunday School at the jail.
16. Clear away undergrowth at the associational camp.
17. Visit the church’s homebound sick and elderly.
18. Serving at Vacation Bible School.
19. Making videos of VBS for parents’ night.
20. Encouragers of the church staff.
21. Cell group leaders.
22. Prayer team leaders. (One deacon used to head up our church’s entire prayer ministry. It has never been as strong since he went to Heaven.)
23. Deacons on call for church members needing help over the weekend or at night.
24. Bringing the Lord’s Supper to shutins or into the nursery area for workers on days when the congregation is receiving it.
25. Phoning church guests on Sunday afternoon.
26. Prayer time with the pastor before the worship service begins.
27. Prayer for the pastor during the worship service.
28. On Wednesday nights after prayer meeting, visit church members who are in hospitals.
29. Conduct a quarterly car clinic for widows and other needy in the church (change oil, minor repairs, etc)
30. Serve meals on wheels to shutin members.
31. Develop ministries for the Intensive Care Unit at a local hospital (to the families in the waiting areas).
32. Chaffeur members in nursing homes who need to get out for doctors visits, etc.
33. Parking lot ushers and security detail during all church events.
34. Building security during worship.
35. Become peacemakers for members who are upset with leadership or one another.
36. Sitting with a homebound invalid so spouse can get out, run errands, get some rest.
37. See to the needs of the pastor’s wife and children whenever he is preaching out of town.
38. Drive members to rehab.
39. Take members to oncology centers for cancer treatments.
40. Sitting up all night with families in the ICU waiting room.
41. Picking up a widow/widower for church each Sunday when they are unable to drive.
42. Leading co-workers, friends, etc., to Christ and discipling them.
43. Driving a widow’s car to have the tires rotated, oil changed, etc.
That’s the extent of my list so far. Some readers will know that on Facebook, I asked friends to tell me acts of service they knew of deacons performing. I’m certain there are a thousand more, but this is where the list stands at the moment.
We’ll be returning throughout the weekend to tweak the list. Feel free to add your own comments and suggestions.