The Process of Appointing Deacons

Apart from the character qualifications we’ve already considered, the only place in Scripture that provides insight into appointing new deacons is Acts 6:1-6. Since no subsequent teaching in Acts or the NT epistles alters or annuls this example, it is fitting to view this scenario as a biblical case study for appointing deacons in a church. In this example, we find harmonious cooperation between the pastoral leadership and the congregation.

First, pastors recognize a need within the congregation.

As the pastors of the growing church at Jerusalem discipled new converts and mingled with people throughout the church, they intercepted a growing criticism (Acts 6:1). Greek-speaking Jewish converts complained that widows in Hebrew-speaking families were receiving preferred treatment, while other widows were being neglected. The pastors agreed that this unintended problem needed to be resolved, providing all widows with proper care and guarding the church from division. However, they recognized that resolving this logistical problem themselves would diminish their ability to meet necessary spiritual needs in the congregation (Acts 6:24).

Then, pastors define the need, outline the qualifications, then request recommendations from the congregation.

The pastors of the church at Jerusalem did not personally select and appoint men to meet this need. Instead, they instructed the congregation to recommend an appropriate number of men from within the congregation for this purpose (Acts 6:3). Doing this ensured the church would appoint men whom the congregation trusted and respected, encouraging transparency and enabling proper representation. Furthermore, the pastors required a plurality of deacons. In fact, as with pastors, the NT always refers to deacons as a plurality (Phil 1:1). Multiple deacons ensure proper accountability and necessary camaraderie to fulfill their tasks. For selecting these men, the pastors provided basic guidelines for the spiritual and personal character required to serve in this capacity (Acts 6:35). Several years later, Paul provided more detailed requirements (1 Tim 3:8-13).

Finally, pastors confirm the candidates.

Once the congregation had selected seven candidates with unanimous consent, they presented the names to the pastors of the church. After affirming that these men met the necessary requirements, the pastors prayerfully and officially appointed these men to meet the needs of the widows in the church. It is instructive to note that this appointing process, whereby the people receiving representation nominate representatives, but leadership appoints them appears in the significant OT counterpart to NT deacon delegation. In this scenario, Moses instructed the congregation of Israel to select men to represent them, having specified qualifications (Exo 18:21). He said, “You choose them and I will appoint them, so long as they meet the qualifications” (Deut 1:13). This is the same pattern followed by the church at Jerusalem in selecting and appointing deacons.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *