Recently my pastor, Patrick Odle, asked me to use the manual I wrote on Deacons’ Training to teach some of the young men who are deacons and prospective deacons in our church. I’ve had two classes, and I cannot tell you how excited the men are to learn and share.
Many years ago as a pastor I felt the need to prepare men for the potential of serving as a deacon. I came to some conclusions based on a number of facts:
1. There are misconceptions of being a deacon:
Some thought of it as a corporate office or a board of directors, while others concluded the office was for spiritually-elite man, and so many men felt they didn’t qualify.
2. There can be a fear of being a deacon:
Understandably, many men feared what they would have to do or be involved in. This was confirmed by the men I am presently training. How do I meet new people? How do I make a call on my assigned members? What happens when I have to go the hospital to visit a member? And then, they have seen the tensions at business meetings when things were either difficult or there was dissension. Who wants to be part of that?
Therefore, I began the process of training men that were potential deacons. Upon my coming to Baptist Church Planters, I realized the great need of this in the church plants. Church plants are only as strong as the leaders and families. Church plants are very susceptible to appointing men either under-qualified or unlearned, which leads to future problems. Training men ahead of time or as they become deacons ensures, to a degree, that the future will be stable.
The selection of men to train can be varied. Either the pastor handpicks men and teaches them, or he could ask the membership to look among themselves and choose men they see as having the potential of becoming deacons in the future. Of course, ultimately, the pastor or present deacons need to filter out any who are biblically disqualified to ever serve as deacons.
The reward in taking time and effort to train these men is huge. Notice the many rewards:
1. A bond is built between the men and the instructor- most likely the pastor.
2. A reverence for the present men in the office of either Pastor or Deacon is reinforced as the men learn what service is really about.
3. The training eliminates those who might want a “power grab.”
4. The training allows men in the church to more accurately vote on deacons since they now know what is required.
5. If nominated, the man will know biblically whether he qualifies and whether to accept the nomination or not. (I have a chapter on this in the manual.)
6. If elected, he will know that this means he is a servant to the church body and will most likely function as biblically-instructed.
7. The church will fare much better with knowledgeable leaders.
I hope you will determine to begin to train/disciple men to be spiritually biblical leaders in the church of Jesus Christ.
(A copy of the manual is available at bcpusa.org/publications)