Essential Clarifications for Appointing Deacons

Not Necessarily Able to Teach

After considering qualifications for prospective deacons, churches should also recognize one noteworthy quality that Scripture does not require. Deacons must not be required to demonstrate an aptitude for teaching ministry. Scripture requires a noticeable teaching ability of pastors, but not of deacons (1 Tim 3:2). Though a deacon may certainly be able to teach, this ability is not required. Churches should remember this when they select new deacons. If they do not, they will overlook God-given, qualified men.

Not Perfect

Altogether, the deacon qualities and qualifications may be combined and summarized as being “blameless” (1 Tim 3:10). This does not mean perfection, or no men could ever serve as deacons. What this means instead is that no one should be able to accuse a prospective deacon of noteworthy misconduct or inconsistency. From a theological standpoint, we know that every Christian is blameless before God. Paul tells us that Christ will present every genuine believer blameless before God (Col 1:22-23). This is encouraging news!

But the matter of a deacon’s blameless reputation concerns something else. It concerns the accusations of people around us and not our gracious, forgiving God. It especially concerns the accusations of unsaved people (1 Tim 3:7). Whereas brothers and sisters in Christ will generally be forgiving towards one another, the unsaved often look for opportunities to point fingers at the church and the gospel she represents. For this reason, prospective deacons should not carry with them any valid charge of known wrongdoing.

Not Equal by Comparison

As a church learns to identify potential deacons, they also should not expect every candidate to exhibit necessary qualities to the same degree. While all candidates should exhibit the qualities prescribed by Scripture, some will do so more distinctly. Luke hints at this by the way he lists the men chosen by the Jerusalem church. He names Stephen first, then mentions some of his personal qualities immediately afterward. By doing this, he does not imply that Stephen was the only deacon who possessed these qualities. Instead, he indicates that while these qualities described all seven men, they described Stephen in a very distinct way. In fact, Luke reiterates his outstanding testimony in subsequent statements (Acts 6:8107:55). Knowing this, congregations should refrain from comparing deacons, whether active or prospective, against one another (2 Cor 10:12). Though some candidates will exhibit certain qualities more distinctly than others, none will do so perfectly or to the same degree.

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