Baptist Doctrine in One Year
Lesson   # 10



The Deacons of a Church: Duties

Prayer: For the finances of the church, that God will put it into the hearts and minds of the people, not only to tithe, but to make offerings unto the Lord.

As deacons were appointed at first "to serve tables," it may be well to say, there are three tables for them to serve: 1. The table of the poor. 2. The table of the Lord. 3. The table of the pastor. The pecuniary supplies to enable them to serve these tables must be furnished by the church. The custom of taking a collection for the poor when the Lord's Supper is administered is a good one, and worthy of universal adoption. It is suitable at the close of the solemn service to think of the pious poor, whom sickness or some other misfortune may have kept from the sacred feast.

As some pecuniary expenditure is necessary in furnishing the table of the Lord, this should be made through the deacons; and it is eminently proper, though not indispensable, for them to wait on the communicants in the distribution of the elements,

Deacons must serve the pastor's table. It, is not for them to decide how liberally or scantily it shall be supplied. The church must make the decision, and enlarged views should be taken when it is made; for the energies of hundreds of pastors are greatly impaired by an incompetent support. The pastor's compensation having been agreed on by the church, the deacons must see that it is raised and paid over. They may appoint one of their number acting treasurer, who shall receive and pay out funds; but it should never be forgotten that deacons are by virtue of their office the treasurers of the church. To appoint any other member to act as treasurer is not warranted by Scripture.

As all pecuniary expenditures are to be made through deacons, they should at the end of every year make a report to the church what moneys they have received during the year, how they have been expended, etc. This will keep everything straight and plain, while it will have no little to do with a church's influence and efficiency.

Deacons should be appointed for an indefinite period, and set apart to their office by prayer and the laying on of hands. It is much to be regretted that many churches hold very loose views on these points. They attach very little importance to the deaconship, and seem to regard it very much as a clerkship or a trusteeship. Indeed a few churches, to their shame be it said, elect their deacons annually; and of one of them it was once said: "Nearly every male member in it has at some time acted as deacon." This amounts almost to a degradation of the deaconship. And those holding these views and indorsing this practice consistently oppose the ordination of deacons. They see not the propriety of ordaining men to an office to which they attach so little importance. Let deacons be chosen for an indefinite period and then let them be solemnly ordained according to the example given in Acts 6:6. "When they had prayed, they laid their hands on them" Prayer is appropriate on all occasions, and laying on of hands is a token of designation to office

Some object to laying on of hands, supposing the design of this ceremony in apostolic times was the communication of the Holy Spirit. That the Spirit was sometimes given in connection with the imposition of hands is evident from Acts 8:17; but the first deacons were chosen because they were already "full of the Holy Spirit." Therefore the laying on of hands was not for the purpose of conferring the Holy Spirit, but of designating to office. This is the object of the ceremony now, and no one who has scriptural views supposes there is a bestowal of extraordinary gifts.

It is the custom in some places to lay on hands in ordination during prayer. This is not according to scriptural example. Whenever prayer and laying on of hands are referred to in connection with each other, as in Acts 6:6; 13:3, it is evident that prayer was first offered - then followed imposition of hands to be seen and known as a designation to office, but which could not without a violation of propriety be seen during prayer. It is very desirable that all the churches adopt the practice of ordaining deacons by prayer and the laying on of hands. It adds to the influence of the deaconship when induction into it is accompanied by appropriate services.

Discussion by Leader:

1. What the church could do if every member tithed and then in addition to the tithe, made love offerings to the Lord; how that it would more than double our finances and enable us to do so much more for the Lord.

2. How that if we do not tithe, it costs more than the tithe in other ways, to rob the Lord of His tithe.

Parts for Assignment:

1. Name the three tables to be served by deacons and define them.

2. The Pastor's table.

3. The Table of the Lord.

4. The Table of the poor.

5. Deacons and finance.

6. Deacons and ordination; manner; length of service.

Discussion Questions:

1. What kind of a salary should a pastor receive?

2. What expenses does the pastor have that ordinary members do not have?

3. What does "double honor" mean in connection with the pastor?

4. Should stingy, penny-pinching men be chosen as deacons?

5. What about the Table of the poor, should the church take care of all the poor of a community? Is the church to take care of all the poor of its own membership? Why not? Widows? Lazy? Worldly?

6. What should the church do before a man is elected and ordained to the office of deacon?



Midi playing is; The Longer I Serve Him




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