Women deacons as church officers

Discussion in 'Church Office' started by Jeri Tanner, Apr 6, 2018.

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  1. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    I think the offices are more than "allowed"; the "are to be" seems to indicate duty to have them for a rightly ordered church. The Deacon is an office.
     
  2. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    An office that would more restricted by God as to what they are set up to do within the local Assembly. Elders and Pastors are required to be able to lead and teach, but Deacon seem to not need to fulfill that obligation.
     
  3. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    What is a trustee?
     
  4. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    Does not Timothy spell of qualifications for Deacons? Deacon is an office.
     
  5. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    1. What do you mean "same par?"

    2. Do you believe the requirements for elder and deacon are fundamentally different?
     
  6. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Timfost’s and Scott Bushey’s posts talk about that. I’ve realized from this thread that qualified deacons are meant to be part of the governing body of a church. I don’t think that’s familiar to those of us coming from the typical Baptist background, but do a good Bible study on it and read some material that teaches on it, and I think you’ll see it.
     
  7. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    We all seem to be agreeing here that the Office of deacon is in the Bible given to us, but trying to see what exactly their role is within the local assembly.
     
  8. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    I would be seeing the Pastor/Elder as being of a higher role/responsibility, as God has given to them the spiritual oversight/overseer of the local church.
    I also see the deacon being similar in qualifications to the Elders, except not required to be able to teach, nor holding spiritual leadership positions.
     
  9. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    what areas then would Deacon be given authority over, as the pastors/Elders handle the primary spiritual leadership role within the local assembly.
     
  10. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    To the OP, in and of itself the ordination or installment of women deacons would not cause me to leave my church. Combined with other errors or, as Earl put it, other straws on a camel's back, it could make me leave. I would, however, likely resign as a deacon.
     
  11. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    In your church, what are your specific assigned tasks?
     
  12. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    I assume you are asking me.

    The broad duties of the deacon in my church are outlined in the PCA's Book of Church Order, chapter 9, section 2:

    It is the duty of the deacons to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress. It is their duty also to develop the grace of liberality in the members of the church, to devise effective methods of collecting the gifts of the people, and to distribute these gifts among the objects to which they are contributed. They shall have the care of the property of the congregation, both real and personal, and shall keep in proper repair the church edifice and other buildings belonging to the congregation.

    Our board of deacons divvy up the tasks into four broad areas; Worship operations, Facilities, Finances, and Mercy. I oversee the Mercy ministry. This includes receiving and assessing financial assistance requests from within and without the church, establishing and strengthening external ministry partners, assessing and facilitating benevolence programs, working with the elders to assess and meet the care needs of our congregants, and encouraging the active participation of our congregants in mercy and care ministry. As a member of the board, I also participate in discussions concerning the other three areas of responsibility and vote on motions that are put forward.
     
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  13. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks, Brett. Have you considered the implications of governance in the deaconate deriving from the Form of Presbyterial Government, discussed somewhat in the thread? I ask because in reading and considering this along with the pertinent Scripture, I found myself informed in a way that changed my view of the office. (I already believed it was for men only.)
     
  14. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    I think the traditional roles of deacons are about what you’d think, and Brett gave a great overview of his duties that is informative and insightful. He definitely has a leadership role in his church.

    Read over again what Scott and Timfost said about how the role of caring for the physical needs in the church is not inferior to the role of caring for the spiritual needs. It’s been pointed out that the deacons chosen (by the congregation) and appointed by the apostles in Acts 6 were to take over part of the apostles’ duties. Notice that they were to be men “full of the Holy Spirit.” That implies something about these men that fitted them for leadership. Then look at Stephen and Phillip and how their being filled with the Spirit fitted them for the great deeds ahead of them.

    So the Bible elevates the role of deacons. I’m thinking we have diminished it in more modern times!
     
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  15. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Brett - this is very helpful. I'm in the process of trying to help our Diaconate become more effective and focused. Would you please, either here or via PM, let me know the duties of the deacons assigned to supervise the other 3 broad areas (Worship operations, Facilities, and Finances)? Thanks!
     
  16. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Ben, we have a somewhat more complex structure.

    Nine major teams: Facilities, Finance, Stewardship, Care Clusters (geographically defined groups of members for mutual service and fellowship) , 24x7 prayer (available to meet prayer needs when needed, and assist the pastor on call with hospital visitation), Urban Mission, Good Sam (probably similar to Brett's Mercy Ministry) Equip Mercy Ministry (long term mentoring toward self-sufficiency) and Missionary Care.

    Six Minor Teams: Frontline (greeting, parking lot duty), Disaster Response, Helping Hands (quarterly workdays for scheduled fixup projects for the elderly, disabled, and single moms), Diaconate Recruitment, Clements Hospital (basically usher and greet at a service held in the hospital chapel) Prayer.
     
  17. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I didn't see where anyone else has answered, so I'll take a shot. Generally, they have control of the real estate in churches which are set up to hold property in a separate entity. It can be used to try to keep the property out of the hands of the denomination in the event of a departure (no opinion as to whether that might work) or to limit liability. I would think that most bodies would go with incorporation and insurance to manage risk these days.

    In some cases, the church might also set up a foundation with trustees to manage certain gifts outside of the normal treasury function. The officers of the foundation might be titled trustees.
     
  18. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    If I understand you correctly, I assume you are asking me what I think of the notion of deacons having authority. I believe they do, but it is a delegated authority. I'll try to explain my reasoning below.

    First, I don't think the authority that deacons possess is derived from the Presbyterian form of government. Rather, It is taught from Scripture, if not explicitly, then by good and necessary consequence. In the Bible, authority is conferred by the laying on of hands. Assuming the common understanding that Acts 6 records the first ordination of deacons (or proto-deacons), it is interesting to note that the seven men chosen were commissioned for their task by the laying on of hands and prayer. Now, the laying on of hands was used to confer other things other than office (guilt to the offerings, healing to the sick, the Holy Spirit to those who had not yet received him, etc.), but context shows that none of these are occurring here. It is similar to the laying on of hands done by Moses to Joshua, recorded in Numbers 27:18-23; or perhaps Numbers 8:18 is an even more appropriate parallel, as the congregation laid hands on the Levites for their setting apart for the service of the temple. In 1 Timothy 4:14 The elders laid hands on Timothy. In Acts 13:3 Paul and Barnabas were set apart by the laying on of hands. In each of these instances the laying on of hands was used to set apart men for a purpose, and they are given power and authority to accomplish that purpose. In the PCA, men are ordained to office in accordance with this scriptural practice. BCO 17-2 states:

    Ordination is the authoritative admission of one duly called to an office in the Church of God, accompanied with prayer and the laying on of hands, to which it is proper to add the giving of the right hand of fellowship.

    Second, the authority the deacons have is specifically in the task they have been set apart to. Again, the parallel with the Levites is instructive. We are called to serve. Our BCO states in 7-2

    The office of deacon is not one of rule, but rather of service both to the physical and spiritual needs of the people.

    But wait, how can a deacon have authority if the office is one of service and not rule? This is why I say that the deacon has delegated authority. Just as the apostles their rightful authority to the seven men in Acts; just as Moses delegated authority to the elders of Israel; and just as Jesus delegates His authority to the Apostles, the deacons are delegated authority in their service. We are directly under the authority and supervision of our sessions, but in our service we can exercise Godly discernment to authoritatively carry out our duties.
     
  19. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    Edward, your church has about 20 times the members that we have. The complexity is probably very appropriate and necessary to care for your congregation. If the Lord grows us, I would love to get a behind the scenes peek at your diaconal ministries. We are nearing our next stage of growth and are rethinking our approach. We'll probably keep the same categories for now, but we will focus on engaging members of the congregation to assist us in carrying out our duties.
     
  20. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    Ben, I'll gladly share. I'm locking up at work and when I get home I'll sit down and type it out. Possibly in a separate thread.
     
  21. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    The needs are probably similar, but the volume would be different and the structure streamlined. I provided the breakdown in case that there were holes that might be missed. (Although there are probably few churches that would need to man a preaching station at a hospital on a weekly basis).
     
  22. beloved7

    beloved7 Puritan Board Freshman

    Oversee church assets, make sure we are in accordance to our by laws etc
     
  23. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    So more of a financial oversight capacity?
     
  24. beloved7

    beloved7 Puritan Board Freshman

    Essentialy, yes. We have an actual accountant/ financial manager as well. The trustees oversee church assets in general, mainly the building and grounds. They are in charge of allocating different projects for trustee work days, keeping track of building conditions, contacting contractors for projects etc.
     
  25. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior


    It seems that you are saying your authority is given from the elders. Would you agree that a deacon’s authority comes from the office “which was committed to them by the Holy Ghost in the apostles”? (Owen, Works, 16.146)

    "This office of deacons is an office of service, which gives not any authority or power in the rule of the church; but being an office, it gives authority with respect unto the special work …" (Owen, Works, 16.147).
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
  26. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    I recall the mainline Presbyterians up north using trustee as a third office, usually on matters of property. In my younger years, I saw elder, deacon, and trustees listed on the bulletin. If I'm not mistaken, some states may require trustees and it is met with an annual meeting by session or by a few appointed to do so. (The requirement comes from property tax exemption.)

    As to the differences in requirements, Timothy and Titus give descriptions that should be true of all believers. The officers need to have walked in this way and should be publicly recognized as having done so. The description differs in one way: wives of deacons are specifically required to have discernment -- I suspect because we are often aware of the times our husbands are called in to help.

    You can have an OPC church without deacons, if none are qualified, but you cannot have one without elders, even if that means getting help from presbytery. Deacons are given by scripture, but their duties are delegated by session.
     
  27. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    There have been times in the church when deacons were considered more essential to a church properly set up. This is an article I read earlier in this thread that I found helpful; it’s from the dreaded Covenanter dot org website but they do have a lot of good historical information.
    http://www.covenanter.org/reformed/...rdinary-and-perpetual-in-the-christian-church
     
  28. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    As a general rule, I'm disposed to think, there are things more serious in play at a church prior to the ordination of women, resulting in the latter.
     
  29. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    When either a Presbyterian or a Baptist church starts to ordain women as pastors, then you seem to drift next into ordaining practicing gays/Lesbians, as the floodgate has been opened up in that assembly.
     
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