Why You Need Elders and Deacons

by Joseph Franks

In Numbers 18, God organized his ministers. All those in the tribe of Levi were set apart to serve him, but not all were to serve him in the same manner. Aaron and his sons were to come near the vessels of the sanctuary. They alone were to lead in the ordained worship rituals and ceremonies. They alone were responsible to mediate between God and man and bear the sin burdens of the people. The remaining Levities were to assist in their God-determined manner. It was their duty to provide protection, provision and support for Aaron and his sons. Their ministry was equally important, but it was different.

In Acts 6, Jesus organized his ministers. Some men were to focus upon prayer and the Word of God. These men were to assist God in communicating to his people, and assist the people in communicating to God. Alongside them would soon come other ordained servants of God. These men would be equally spiritual, reputable, and wise but they would serve in a different capacity. They would become experts in loving the needy and stewarding the resources of the church.

Now one can understand why Presbyterian polity is experiencing a revival around the world. A bicameral form of church government appears to transcend covenants and/or dispensations. In both Testaments, God ordains some of his ministers to focus on pastoral communication (i.e. elders). He ordains other ministers to focus on pastoral administration (i.e. deacons)

Therefore, how do we apply this today?

1. Pray for God’s blessing on all the men who serve you as elders and deacons. They have a heavy burden that God has placed on their backs. Encourage them as they serve you and Christ well.

2. Realize the vital necessity of having elders and deacons. While these men are equally called and filled, they are not identically gifted. It is a great misfortune to see elders trying to serve as deacons, and deacons trying to serve as elders. If your church has not this biblical form of church government, encourage your leaders to study connectionism, plurality in leadership, and the different nature of the offices of elder and deacon.

3. Apply this principle to all other ministries within the church. While God has not called all men and women to serve as elders and deacons, God has called all Christians to serve him, and he has gifted them in accordance to the manner he would have them serve. So spend some time analyzing your service today.

  • How has God gifted you? What are your skills?
  • What are your consistent interests? Towards what sort of ministry does your heart lead you?
  • What sort of environment do you prefer? Are you better equipped for fast-paced or slow-paced ministry? Do you enjoy crowds or one-on-one time?
  • How has your particular life-story prepared you for ministry? What experiences has the Lord sent your way?
  • How and where would your friends and elders encourage you to serve?
  • What opportunities has God placed before you?

In the Church of Jesus Christ, some are elders, some are deacons, but all are priests. Encourage those around you to serve in their God-directed manner, and then find yours. There is no room for the 80/20 rule in the household of God.

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