As we continue the process of developing deacons, our most recent meeting focused on The Practice of Deacons. A previous post lists resources for A Theology of Deacons, the focus of our first meeting. In attempting to work out the practice of deacons, we found it helpful to make a distinction between two areas of service—community and mission-focused deacons.
There are two main areas of service community-focused and mission-focused service. Mission-focused deacons serve in ways that change over time. For example, the Early Church probably didn’t have Media or Arts Deacons but they did have deacons that served widows and orphans. As the church expands and contracts throughout history, moving from continent to continent, culture to culture, the expression of the church varies. As a result, there are some areas of service that remain the same and others that change. Consequently, the cultural and historical expression of the church requires deacons that serve the mission of the church and deacons that serve a church of mission.
There are deacon ministries that are pretty standard, transcultural and transhistorical such as: mission/social justice, community/benevolence, financial. These ministries have historical and biblical precedent, focusing not so much on outward mission but more on inward ministry to the community of faith. In summary, there are community-focused and mission-focused areas of ministry for deacons, ministries that serve the mission of the church and ministries that serve the church of mission.
Tonight we had our first of three sessions on deacon training. I was moved by the number of quality of potential deacons sitting in our house. God has been so kind to Austin City Life! In preparation for training our deacons, I did the following:
Then I wrote and mailed a letter of invitation to potential deacons, gave them a copy of Driscoll’s booklet, and developed a teaching outline for our three session Deacon Training. In all of this I borrowed heavily from Bob Thune and David Fairchild. Thanks guys! Here’s the list of topics we are covering each month:
October 5, 2008 1st training meeting @ Dodson’s house
Discussion topic: A Theology of Deacons
Assignment: One Page Reflection Paper on 1 Tim 3:8-13
November 2, 2008 2nd training meeting @ Dodson’s house
Discussion topic: The Practice of Deacons
Assignment: One Page Dream Ministry Description
December 7, 2008 3rd training meeting @ Dodson’s house
Discussion topic: Holding to the Mystery of Faith
Next Assignment: One Page Summary of the Gospel
December 8-14, 2008 Interviews and Installation
We’re just finishing up our second round of Deacon interviews. I’ve been overwhelmed and the godly caliber of men and women who have gone through our training process and eagerly aspire to be lead servants in our church. As the elders interviewed each candidate, we asked them 5 main questions:
1. Based on the character qualifications of 1 Tim 3, where are you the weakest?
- We followed their answer up by asking for specific examples.
- We inquired how they are experiencing growth and change in this area.
- We looked for a personal and specific application of the gospel to their weaknesses and helped them with this, whichÂ created a great pastoral moment to exhort, encourage, & counsel
2. Do you have a budget and how much debt do you currently have?
- If deacons are exemplary servants, they need to be exemplary with their money.
- If they are handling finances for the church, we should be handling it well at home.
- Follow up questions about good vs. bad debt and plans to pay off.
3. Are you in a Fight Club (discipleship group)?
4. Do you have time in your schedule to commit to being a deacon?
- We laid out general expectations and emphasized flexible but regularly monthly commitment.
- Monthly deacon team meetings work to create collaborative environment for ministry.
5. Why do you want to serve as a deacon?
- This gets to the heart and allows us to see if this is all duty or a calling.
- Was a blessing to hear some of the responses.
On Sunday, we installed the first deacons of Austin City Life, 5 months after they completed training! Church planting! We introduced them as lead servants in our church who have demonstrated a commitment to the character, theology, and service of deacon. It was a sweet time to reflect on the gospel growth in our church, and to celebrate our deacons commitment.
As I introduced each person, I asked them the following question: “Do you pledge, by God’s grace, to serve this church with the character, faith, and service fitting of a deacon? If so, say ‘I do’”. This question simulateously called each person to sober commitment and to God’s all-sufficient grace in serving the church. I am thrilled to have such fine deacons dedicated to the good of our church, the good of the city, and the glory of God!
Here are the Deacon Resources we used and developed along the way. The newest contribution is the manuscript and outline of what I said during the installment. Hope it helps.