All issues that churches can face have already been addressed in Scripture. This week we are going to look at how the Bible teaches us to organize in order to minister more effectively.
Problems and triage
In Acts the early church had an issue. People were giving and yet some widows were beingoverlooked. People had fallen through the cracks. The Apostles recognized the importance of physical needs being met, yet they could not abandon the spiritual needs around them in order to fulfill this important ministry.
Creation of Deacons
The solution was to appoint men to oversee this business. In other words, the elder are to oversee the spiritual life of the church and the deacons are to oversee the physical life. It is important to note that the deacons were not necessarily the ones who had to DO the work; they were tasked with OVERSEEING the work to ensure it was done. This distinction is very important for both elders and deacons.
Stephen and Philip
Although they were deacons we see virtually nothing recorded about any of the deacons doing any of the work they oversaw. Instead we see Stephen performing miracles and preaching. We also see Philip doing the work of an evangelist, preaching, and raising his daughters to proclaim God’s Word.
Overseeing vs. Ministrering
Both elders and deacons are tasked with overseeing. However, they also are tasked with ministering as well. These two things are not mutually exclusive. Also, properly done ministry does not neglect family. Simply put each believer has natural talents and spiritual gifts. Both are to be used. A plumber may fix a leaking sink at a widow’s house. This is him using his natural talents. However, his true spiritual gift may be teaching. He should use both gifts in service to the Kingdom. Elders and deacons are the same way. A deacon may be making arrangements for the plumber to fix the sink, but as in the case of Philip, this should in no way detract from his ministry to his children.
Elders are called to oversee the spiritual work of the church and equip the saints for ministry. Deacons are called to oversee the physical needs of the church giving special attention the widows. This means that every believer needs to be making both their natural talents and spiritual gifts available for use within God’s Kingdom. (Next week we will look at how to know your spiritual gift.)
We must guard ourselves against two false beliefs. One, that family and ministry are mutually exclusive. We cannot sacrifice our marriages and our children for the sake of the ministry. This is directly contrary to Scripture. Two, we must reject the idea that only special people can minister. Many tasks around the church only require time. These tasks should be evenly distributed according to each person’s abilities and overseen by the elders and deacons. Many of these tasks can be done as a family. Each individual and each family should be prayerfully considering how they can serve both physically and spiritually in order to advance the Kingdom.