LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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Hillcrest Church Office
August 26, 2004

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Here is this week's LeaderLines. . . .

“Come Meet Our Diakonoi!”
by Tom Goodman

During the 6:30 p.m. service this Sunday, August 29, we will introduce you to our deacon candidates, and we’ll hear from them how God has worked in their lives.  Our candidates are Craig Johnson, James King, David Miller, and Al Shaffer.

Why do we have deacons?  Three reasons: to minister to the church, to model the ideal Christian life for the church, and to motivate the church to be her best.

First, deacons minister to the church.  Where can you find the biblical job description for deacons?  We can turn to several places in scripture to find the twofold job description of a pastor/elder/overseer (leadership and teaching).  For deacons, however, there’s no explicit duties listed in all of scripture—except in the name itself.  The English word “deacon” was formed from the Greek word diakonos (pronounced “dee-ACK-oh-noss”), which simply means “servant.”
In Acts 6, as the church grew beyond the ability of the apostles to handle everything themselves, seven men were set aside to handle the daily distribution of food to the church’s widows.  This enabled the apostles to focus on their primary responsibility, which was “prayer and the ministry of the word.”  This is the earliest example of the church setting aside people in “official” positions as diakonoi (pronounced “dee-ACK-oh-noy”).
I’m so glad I’m in a church that practices this biblical understanding of deacon service.  Deacons in a lot of Baptist churches govern the affairs of the church, but deacons at Hillcrest prefer the biblical model.  As one deacon described the role of the deacons, “we are a sounding board, not a governing board.”
In addition to those who “officially” serve as deacons, we have a lot of “unofficial” deacons in our church.  You see, the word diakonos and it’s variants show up about 100 times in the New Testament, and in only two or three places does the word explicitly refer to a church office.  In every other instance, the word refers to the work that all of us should be doing.  While we set aside “official” deacons to serve the church, we should all be diakonoi . . . servants . . . deacons.  We should all find a way to minister in and through the church.
Second, deacons model the ideal Christian life for the church.  Church members should look to deacons as role models.  That doesn’t mean that deacons are to be perfect, but they are to be on the path of improvement, conscious that people are watching them carefully.  That’s why the qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3 really deal with character and behavior rather than skill.  People watch their family life, their business dealings, their money management, their support of the church, their treatment of the paid and volunteer leadership of the church, and so on.
Third, deacons motivate the church to be her best.  That means that the deacons must first of all know what a church looks like when she is at her best.  Beyond that, deacons have the job of challenging the church to head that direction.
Pray for our new ministers, models, and motivators!

— Tom —

Important Notes:

New College Class Starts this Week!  We’ve had a number of college students visit us in the last two or three weeks.  This Sunday we’re going to start a special six-week study for all college students.  Jim Siegel will lead a study of comparative religions, which will be very relevant for those in college studies.  The class will be held at 9:30, and it begins this Sunday, August 29.  Spread the word!
Send an E-Card!  Patty Bailey has created an attractive e-card to promote our new Sunday morning series, Movie Messages.  Send your friends an e-card at www.HillcrestAustin.org/ecard.