In November 2013 we at Trinity commissioned deacons to serve us. The word deacon literally meant ‘waiter’ or ‘servant’; and the first time we see deacons* becoming a kind of office or role in the church is in Acts 6. Some widows in the first church were not getting looked after by the church, not because the church were lazy or stingy but because the leaders were busy doing other things. It was more of an admin problem than an attitude problem.
The leaders didn’t feel it was right to stop what they were doing - preaching the gospel and praying - in order to take care of the women, so they set up another leadership structure to specifically look after the physical needs of people in the church.
They didn’t just choose anyone.
They chose people with a good understanding of the gospel, people who were known for being servant-hearted and filled with the Spirit. Paul lays out some of the character requirements in 1 Timothy 3.
What are the deacons at Trinity responsible for?
INSIDE the church... The deacons are responsible for looking after the physical, practical and social needs of the people in the church. This will include:
the pantry - making sure basic needs are met
help with finances if necessary
hospitality - particularly in making sure new people feel at home with us
admin - helping people with CVs, visas, helping to organise accommodation etc.
OUTSIDE the church... The deacons are responsible for raising the profile of social justice in the church:
By flagging up good projects that people might like to give an evening or a Saturday morning to
By helping the congregation at Trinity understand how we should think about giving... money / time
An important point must be made: ‘being responsible for’ and ‘doing’ are not the same thing. In other words we as the church are not meant to breathe a collective sigh of relief and say, "phew someone else is doing all that... I don’t need to worry about it".
According to the Bible, every Christian should reach out to the poor and do what they can to uplift and redress the balance of injustice they see around them. They do this in response to the grace they've been shown by their Lord Jesus. Every community group should do what they can to help each other in the group. The same applies to looking out for and welcoming new people in the church. It's not someone else’s job it’s yours! The deacons are just overseeing this and helping us do it better.
Should you wish to contact the deacons, please email: email@example.com
* NB these are not to be confused with the deacons our denomination (REACH-SA) ordain as the first office held after theological training