Board of Deacons?
| Who is in charge of leading
Is it the pastor or does
that task fall to the board of deacons?
Dr. Lee Roberson (Highland
Park Baptist Church, Chattanooga, TN) is often quoted to have said, "Everything
rises and falls on leadership." That statement could not be more
appropriate when determining the answers to these questions.
Obviously, the Word of God
places great importance on both offices of the church. The pastor.
First Timothy 3:1-13 spells out the qualifications for both. Just
as this portion of Scripture indicates that a pastor "must be" all that
God demands of him, the deacons are to "likewise" emulate the same characteristics
while also fulfilling even more qualifications. In fact, the wives
of deacons (not pastors) are instructed to avoid very specific behaviors.
Therefore, are we to conclude
that, since the deacons are so much the more required to be qualified men
of God along with their wives, they are then to be given greater authority
regarding the business of the church?
Nothing could be further
from Biblical truth.
In fact, the opposite is
true. The Scriptures spend more time qualifying deacons because those
who fulfill this office are to consider themselves as servants. The
Greek word is "diakonos" (dee-ak'-on-os) literally means "one who serves
others." In fact, the root word, "diako" means "one who runs errands."
The office of deacon is one of being a servant to all from the pastor to
the members of the church. Therefore, the only possible conclusion
regarding the obvious need of Scripture to spell out the importance of
true spirituality amongst those who would be deacons, as well as their
wives, is that of their needing to realize that they are not to ursurp
the pastoral authority. Consequently, the concept of a deacon board
who has been given authority over the church is absolutely unscriptural.
Conversely, the Greek word
for pastor is "poimen" which literally means "he who is a shepherd."
Ephesians 4:11 uses this term to describe one who gives spiritual guidance
and counsel. The pastor leads God's flock/church. They have
the greater responsibility.
Those who defend deacon authority
only have to look at those churches who have given into this false concept.
For example, The Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA) is
known for their commitment to board run churches. This group is also
a fellowship of small churches with few exceptions (the exceptions occur
when certain pastors are given free reign to lead the church as they should).
Furthermore, Baptist churches who allow deacon boards to control the business
of the church are usually smaller congregations. Their view of congregational
government has been taken to the extreme. Therefore, the evidence
indicates that board run churches lack pastoral vision, authority, and
leadership, thus, resulting in limitations that hinder both spiritual and
numerical church growth.
The bottom line is that pastor's
are called by God, whereas, deacons are appointed by the local church.
Pastors are given visions for the growth and development of a congregation
just as a shepherd takes care of a flock of sheep. What possible
sense is there in claiming that any church is to be a dynamic and effective
soul winning ministry bent on ongoing growth, while making an impact in
the community, and then setting up its organization to contradict these
goals? Deacons are to work as servants to assist the shepherd in
the fulfilling of that vision. There is nothing more beautiful in
a congregation than a group of deacons who humbly serve God's people under
the leadership of a pastor who is driven by a vision from and for God.
Key families are not to run
Charter members are not to
run God's church.
Deacon boards are not to
run God's church.
None of these are to run
God's man, either.
God calls a man. That
man fulfills the function of the bishop/pastor. As long as he remains
Scripturally qualified, it is he whom God will provide the vision and leadership
to lead the house of God. Only when he violates clear Biblical qualifications
is he to be disqualified. Otherwise, once called by God and any local
church, his leadership authority is to be respected, followed, and never
"And let these also first
be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless."
~ 1st Timothy 3:10