We now refer to them as “The Seven,” a group of men who stepped up to serve the early church at a critical moment. Remember the story from Acts 6? As the number of believers grew, so did its needs. Unfortunately, some congregants (e.g. Hellenistic Jews) felt as though they were being neglected in the midst of the growth. And complaints abounded! (I told you we could trace our Baptist lineage back to the first century!) The solution? The Seven! The forerunners of deacons! These men were selected by the church to wait the tables of Grecian widows and minister to their needs. Through their service, the fellowship of the church was protected, and the ministry was furthered.
These men continue to offer us a clear example of the deacon servanthood that should be found in churches today. Indeed, deacons are to do whatever it takes to maintain the unity of the church, even if that means waiting tables. As my Mississippi buddy, Jim Futral, explains, “Deacons are ‘problem-solving helpers’.” Now, I know that Baptist deacons are not always viewed in such a positive light. To many, they are considered the problem. Don’t forget that it was a Baptist college that chose a “demon deacon” as their mascot! But a genuine deacon helps the church overcome obstacles that threaten the gospel’s advancement!
I am especially grateful for those brothers I call deacons here at Temple Baptist Church. They understand the initial responsibility of the deacon—to keep the fellowship of the church through service and ministry. For almost four years now, I have served with some of the most solid, selfless deacons I have ever encountered. And this Sunday, we have an opportunity to nominate ten more such individuals to the Deacons Council. Read Acts 6:1-7 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13 to help you in the process. Finally, I ask you to pray fervently this week for guidance and discernment as the Holy Spirit prompts your selections.
Luke reminded us about the powerful results of the first deacon election: “And the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7 ESV). What an awesome statement! The choosing of deacons allowed the Kingdom to continue its advancement. Let’s pray that God will use this week’s deacon nomination as well to multiply ministry and expand the Gospel’s impact.