Recovering the Biblical Effectiveness of the Deacon Ministry -- By: Raymond D. Elder

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 22:1 (Fall 2004)
Article: Recovering the Biblical Effectiveness of the Deacon Ministry
Author: Raymond D. Elder

Recovering the Biblical Effectiveness of the Deacon Ministry

Raymond D. Elder

President and Founder, CPR Ministries, Inc.
Pastor, Euhaw Baptist Church
2530 Bee’s Creek Road
Ridgeland, SC 29936


When a contractor begins to build a house or other structure, he also wants to be sure to pour a steadfast footing. Every precaution is taken in this because he knows that the foundation is, without a doubt, the most important part of the structure. He then ensures that the corners are square. If the foundation or corners are even a fraction of a bead off plumb, the structure will get continually worse if it is not corrected. It is important to check each section to ensure squareness from the cornerstone. It always pays to maintain a taut plumb line.

Christ spent three and one-half years with his disciples digging the footing and laying the foundation for the church. He knew that He, himself, would be the Footing, Foundation, and Cornerstone for the church. For that reason, He poured Himself into it from the very beginning of His ministry.

The Book of Acts gives us the account of how the disciples, beginning at Pentecost, maintained that tautness on the plumb line to ensure that everything they did was square from the Cornerstone. Early on, the church experienced phenomenal growth. From Acts chapters 3 and 4, one learns of the external persecution that resulted from the proclamation of Jesus Christ. Chapter 5 presents us with the invasion of hypocrisy in the church from two of its own. By the time we reach chapter 6, it appears there might be some slack in the plumb line as the apostles were confronted with discontentment in the body with the potential for dissension. In all of these situations, the apostles rose to the challenge in godly wisdom. The situations of external persecution and invasion of hypocrisy were met with prayer, the Word of God, wisdom, and boldness as the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit. In response to the discontentment from within, they again exercised godly wisdom and initiated what we refer to as the beginning of a new position in the church, that of the deacon. This was a vitally important move on the part of the apostles. These seven men responded in true Christian fashion and resolved the issue at hand.

Through the centuries, however, the plumb line has become slack. In church after church and situation after situation, the honorable, but humble position of the deacon has degenerated from its intended purpose. This precious and priceless position is often sought today as an office of prestige and power rather than being selected for having exemplified a true servant’s heart.


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