Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolas and Stephen are names that probably mean as much to you as Wayne Falls, Printes Fryman, Zach Wicker and JB Vance. The common thread here is that they were all deacons, but nearly 2000 years apart!
That one word, deacon, brings out a wealth of emotions. Some who have served as a deacon have been tainted by the “politics” that have errantly crept into the position. Power struggles, personal agendas, and the lack of understanding of the function have caused church splits, sleepless nights for pastors and even for some to walk away from the church. But on the other hand, those who have served as a deacon according to biblical principals have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and have made a lasting impression on the church and the people they have served.
In Acts 6, we find that the church, though being persecuted, is growing rapidly and the Apostles are going from region to region teaching and baptizing. They come across a group of widows who were being overlooked during the food distribution and were asked to resolve the conflict. The Apostles answer to the problem brought us the first recorded servants known as deacons. By appointing these men “full of the Spirt and wisdom” to serve the people, the Apostles were able to give their attention to “prayer and teaching the word.” These chosen men were so dedicated to the task, not for their own glory or gain, but to the glory of God, that they were all martyred for their faith. Now that’s a deacon!
Our church is currently in the process of selecting and teaching willing men about the role and responsibilities of a deacon. They are learning about having a servant’s heart. They are understanding that serving frees up the pastors for the teaching of the word. They are seeing positive life change happen by investing in people’s lives. They are experiencing the fruit of building a biblical community that is impacting our neighborhoods and workplaces.
Wayne Falls, Printes Fryman, Zach Wicker and JB Vance – none of them were martyred for their faith. But these guys spent countless hours of playing pool, camping, attending basketball games, paying for youth trips and dedicating their time to countless families in my home church and were instrumental in the leading of my family to faith in Christ. They did all of this without me knowing until much later in life. Now that’s a deacon!