Calvary Bible Church

The Doctrine of the Ministry of the Diaconate

Ordained by the College of Elders, 10/29/00

We, the Elders of Calvary Bible Church of Kezar Falls, Maine;

In a sincere attempt to rightly divide Godís Word on all subjects pertaining to the effectiveness and correctness of Godís Church, do ordain this doctrine regarding the role of the Deacons of the Church: those most blessed servants of Godís shepherds and flock. As in all areas of guidance and teaching of the Church, we create this document out of a prayerful and committed search of the Holy Scriptures, allowing the sacred truths contained therein to shape our opinions in greater conformity to those divinely communicated to us by God; who is deserving to receive our praise, thanksgiving, worship and devotion forever and ever, Amen.

  1. Defining the term, "Deacon":
  2. The word translated, "deacon" in our English versions of the New Testament, is the word transliterated "diakonos" from the Greek word, diakonos. This word, according to W.E. Vineís Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, "Öprimarily denotes a servant, whether as doing servile work, or as an attendant rendering free service,Öit occurs in the New Testament of domestic servants, John 2:5, 9; the civil ruler, Romans 13:4; Christ, Romans 15:8; Galatians 2:17; the followers of Christ in relation to their Lord, John 12:26; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 1:7; 4:7; the followers of Christ in relation to one another, Matthew 20:26; 23:11;Mark 9:35; 10:43; the servants of Christ in the work of preaching and teaching, I Cor. 3:5; II Cor. 3:6; 6:4; 11:23; Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23, 25; I Thessalonians 3:2; I Tim. 4:6; those who serve in the Churches, Romans 16:1; Phil. 1:1; I Tim. 3:8, 12; false apostles, servants of Satan, II Cor. 11:15Ö"

    The foregoing exposition shows us the variety of ways diakonos was applied in the language and culture of the New Testament. Most of these applications; however, we no longer associate with "deacon" in current English usage and, in fact, often are even translated as different words in the English New Testament (i.e. servants, minister, etc.). Thus, this paper will concentrate on the uses in the New Testament of diakonos as "those who serve in the Churches" since this is the primary, if not exclusive, application of this term in contemporary American English parlance. The Deacons are godly servants who minister to the Church as servants to the Elders, so they may better fulfill their roles as spiritual shepherds of the congregation. They are ordained by the Eldership and have no authority outside of the Elders. Deacons are loyal ministers for the Eldership in the ways delegated to them by the Elders so that the Elders may concentrate on the Word of God and prayer (symbolizing the pastoral ministry).

    This concept of Deacon is first brought to our attention in the New Testament in the situation the Elders found themselves wrapped into in Acts 6. Although these men are never associated with the term "deacon" their function leads us to believe they were people who were placed in the role now closely associated with the term. A problem arose early in the life of the Church. There was a complaint against the Hebrew speaking Jews by the Greek speaking Jews, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution of food. The apostles solved this problem by appointing the men who were filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom over this ministry, according to the divine hand of God. Our example for the diaconate is thus established for the rest of the life of the Church.

  3. Qualifications for a Deacon:
  4. The qualifications for a Deacon are recorded for us in I Timothy 3:8-12 and Acts 6:3. A Deacon must therefore be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. They are to be tested to see whether or not they will be blameless, signifying maturity in faith, not perfection. They must be faithful to their wives, have control over their own households, have a good reputation, and be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. A Deaconess must also be reverent, not a slanderer, temperate and faithful. In examining the qualifications for Deacons, we must deal with the situation of women in the role of Deacon, referred to as "Deaconess" in our Church. First, the Bible indicates that Deaconesses go back to the beginnings of the Church age. In I Timothy 3:8, Paul signifies he is about to develop the qualifications for another group of titled servants from the former discussion. In other words, he has spelled out the qualifications of a Bishop, and then says "likewise" signifying another list of qualifications is to follow for another group of ministers in the Church, namely Deacons. Then in verse 11, we see "likewise" once again employed, implying we are going to hear more qualifications of titled servants in the Church, which we would refer to as Deaconesses. Since there was no proper female Greek term for "diakonos" Paul signifies this new category as "women."

    We also have the example of Phoebe in Romans 16:1. She was not only a servant, but a "Deacon of the Church." It has been argued that this was in reference to the word deacon signifying someone who helps others, but not as a role or title of office for this woman. It would be highly unusual, however, for Paul to qualify her service specifically as "deacon of the Church" and not just as a servant to many in the Church, as he did with Mary in verse 6. She worked very hard in service too, but is not entitled a "Deacon of the Church." It is noteworthy that Paul not only commended her, but asked the Church to assist her in whatever she needed from them, to fulfill her ministry.

    It is important to note that Deacons and Deaconesses fulfil the same role in the Church, as ministers to the Elders where the Elders delegate responsibility to the diaconate; but, the Elders will always grant responsibility and authority to men and women consistent with the revelation God has granted us regarding headship and authority, as shown in I Timothy 2:11-15. Deaconesses will be granted proper authority and responsibility which does not place them in the unbiblical and undesirable position of being spiritual heads of men.

  5. Responsibilities of the Deacons:

From the description of the "proto-Deacons" in Acts 6 and the qualifications for ministry in I Tim. 3, we begin to assemble a pattern of activity of the New Testament Deacon. They are to be involved in mercy ministries, caring for the needs of the flock when the Elders require, so the Elders may attend to their responsibilities as spiritual shepherds of Godís flock. Essentially, the Elders may create and dismiss ministries for the Deacons to be involved with as they deem necessary, with the exception that the Elders may never give the responsibilities of the establishment of sound doctrine and ultimate decision making authority in any arena, since these responsibilities are clearly designated to the Eldership in the Word of God (Acts 20:17, 28-32; I Timothy 4:12-16). Currently, the Elders have ordained 3 different areas of ministry for the Deacons of CBC: the purse, relief and encouragement. These may be added to, adapted or eliminated according to the needs of the Church as deemed necessary by the Elders at any time.

The present responsibilities of the Deacons of the Purse are the delegated management of the funds and real property of the Church, except for the relief fund. They are to recommend a budget for the Eldersí approval, recommend capital purchases, and make certain that all real property is maintained in good condition.

The Deacons of Relief have delegated oversight of the relief fund, under the ultimate supervision of the Elders. They are to coordinate the use of this fund and volunteers in the Church to meet essential needs of the congregation and, as they see fit, people outside the congregation. They also give a quarterly report of expenditures from the relief fund and progress of any volunteer assistance to the Elders.

The Deacons of Encouragement have delegated oversight of any spiritual encouragement they are able to offer as they see fit. They are to maintain a regular visitation schedule with all the members of the Church and report any spiritual concerns regarding anyone in the brotherhood with the Eldership. They are to be the "first line of contact" with anyone in the brotherhood missing for a significant period of time from regular Sunday morning Church meetings. They also report quarterly to the Eldership regarding their maintenance of their regular visitation schedule.

It is our sincere hope that this document shall be used as a tool to aid us in teaching the doctrine of the ministry of the diaconate God has communicated to us in His Word in a clear fashion, to edify the Church by bringing us together into one mind; to glorify God by proclaiming His holy truth; and to fulfill our charge to faithfully feed the Lordís flock by correctly dividing the Word of Truth. This document is in no way inspired or significant except that it reflects God'í teachings in His holy, sacred and inspired Scriptures. As we grow in Christ and in dependence upon the Word of God, we will constantly review this doctrine and adjust this document so that it always communicates the best understanding of Godís Word in the clearest way.

The Calvary Bible Church College of Elders

Pastor Daniel Ahern

Pastor Barry Judd

Pastor Keith Stackhouse

Pastor Samuel Stone