Why Deacons Are Essential

 

Essential Church practices the Biblical leadership model of Elders and Deacons.  The New Testament leadership position of deacon is first described in Acts 6:1-7.  The church was growing rapidly, and certain groups of people were being neglected and were falling though the cracks because the
Apostles could not keep up with the sudden growth.  The twelve Apostles discerned a need to expand the leadership within the church by identifying 7 men who would be able to lighten their load and increase their impact.  The initial search qualifications mentioned in Acts 6 are described in v. 3- “men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom.”  
     As we began the process of identifying, training and commissioning spiritual leaders in the church at Essential, we determined that we would use the following process.
1.  Identify men who are growing in their faith and invite them to participate in the ASPIRE Spiritual Leadership development plan.  ASPIRE is a 2 year, weekly commitment.  For the past year, each of these men have faithfully met every Thursday morning at 6am for in depth discipleship.  During that time, I have continually been assessing them and holding them accountable in the things that we have been learning together.
2.  After the first year of ASPIRE, I met with each of the men individually and together we read through and discussed the Acts 6 passage on deacons.  Using the scripture, I assessed their readiness for the role of deacon based on the following qualifications-
* Good Repute: I asked each man to describe how they would assess their current reputation with their family, workplace, neighbors and church.  I also asked them if there was any sin or behavior that if it were to become public, would adversely affect their reputation.
*  Full of the Spirit:  I asked each man to assess their personal relationship with Christ.  Is it growing?  Do they sense the Lord is actively transforming them into a greater likeness of Christ?
*  Full of Wisdom:  I asked each man to honestly assess whether or not they are making wise decisions in regards to their lifestyle, their finances, their family and their time.
     Finally, I concluded my time with them by emphasizing that while the role of deacon literally means “servant,” it was important for them to realize their responsibility as spiritual leaders within the church body.  We read verse 7 which says that after the deacons were commissioned, “the word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly.” I challenged each of the men to see their role as spiritual leaders who will actively make disciples and live according to the Word of God.  
3.  Those men who have been approved to move forward in the role of deacon will be considered at the end of year two for the role of Elder.  While a deacon is a spiritual leader who leads through service and by modeling the Biblical values of Essential, the role of the elder goes an additional step further by serving as an “overseer.” For a greater description of the role of an elder, click here.  During this second year of ASPIRE, each of the men will be taking their wives through the year one ASPIRE curriculum.  The purpose of this will be to strengthen them as spiritual leaders within their homes and equip them for future leadership of individuals and groups to go through ASPIRE.  
     As we commission our deacons to serve and lead our church, we recognize that we all are in constant need of grace and that each of these men are continuing to work out their salvation as they grow further into the likeness of Christ.  With this in mind, we as a church should both hold these men to a high level of accountability as spiritual leaders, yet also pray for them and extend them grace when they fall short.  We must also keep in mind that because the Lord is working in them in this new way, they will also become a greater target to the enemy.  I encourage each of us to regularly lift these men up in prayer, asking God to protect them from the wiles of Satan and strengthen them for the calling of deacon.  In all these things, we believe that God will be honored as we continually strive to “Magnify Christ and Multiply His Kingdom.”