The New Testament church has two offices: pastor and deacon. It is a high privilege and responsibility for each local church body to choose men to serve them. Our congregation gets to exercise this responsibility this Sunday. I want to offer some pastoral counsel as to how one should go about selecting deacons.
There is a temptation to simply vote for your friend or family member if their name is on the list. Perhaps you will be tempted to vote for the most recognizable face. Rather though, I urge you to consider the biblical function of the office of deacon (Acts 6:1-7), and then consider the biblical qualifications of the deacon (1 Timothy 3:8-13).
The Bible is clear as to the role of the deacon in Acts 6. The deacon is a role made necessary by the growing logistical problems of a growing church. The apostles serving that first church in Jerusalem quickly learned that more people simply meant more problems, and their solution was the office of deacon. They instructed the church to choose seven men, other than themselves, to serve them. They did this so that they could continue to focus on the ministry of the Word of God, because they realize that Word of God is of the highest priority for the church. The role of deacon is intended to protect the ministry of the Word of God. I urge you to consider this calling as you vote for men to serve our church.
Like Acts 6:3 instructs, ask questions about each of the nominations:
Is this man reputable? How do people in our community and our church think of this individual? Do co-workers and neighbors speak highly of him? Or does he have a reputation for negativity and causing trouble? Do people generally try to avoid spending time with him? Do they have to explain his actions with a statement like, "That's just how he is..."? The apostles instructed the first church in Jerusalem to choose men of good repute. Prayerfully consider the reputations of these men. As they serve the church, they will represent you in the community. You will want men of good repute.
Is this man full of the Spirit? Is this a man that is clearly a child of God? Have we seen evidence of the Spirit's work in his life? Does the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) grow abundantly in his life? When confronted with issues in his life, does he address them with Scripture and prayer, or does he handle them in a worldly fashion? One of the men chosen to serve the early church was Stephen. We get a glimpse into Stephen's spiritual life just after he is chosen, beginning in Acts 6:8 through the end of chapter 7. As a spiritual body, the church wants men who are full of the Spirit to serve them. Prayerfully consider your nominees.
Is this man full of wisdom? Do people listen when he speaks? Can we trust what he says as wise counsel? The office of deacon arose from logistical needs in the church. Problem solving was the first immediate function of those early deacons. Wisdom would prove to be a crucial requirement, and the need for wisdom has not shrank in the least. Consider this as you vote for deacons.
Other qualifications are laid out in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and we will hear these expounded upon on Sunday morning, July 15, just before we are called to vote. Briefly summarized they are: His heart, his faith, his service record, and his family life.
I want to encourage you and exhort you to prayerfully consider whom God would lead you to vote for. A deacon election is a serious and a biblical responsibility. It is not a popularity contest! It is not a beauty pageant. There are no losers. It is simply our method to discern God's sovereignly chosen men. Please pray!
You can watch Sunday's sermon on Acts 6:1-7 beginning at the 31:30 mark below.