In the first part of Acts 6, we find the selection and commissioning of the first Deacons. These seven men were “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (6:3) and were given a specific task — to care for the widows in the daily distribution of food (6:1-2). Several things quickly become apparent when we read about these men.
There’s a Need (6:1)
The congregation had a need — the widows were being neglected as the congregation grew. There was no one to prepare and distribute food to them. And, the Apostles were busy caring for the congregation in spiritual terms by devoting themselves to discipling the congregants in the word of God, preaching the word of God, and praying for the church and world. They didn’t have time to care for the physical needs of the widows and others. So, they appointed deacons to do this important work.
There’s No Building or Budget
I can’t help but notice that the the congregation didn’t have a building, and the congregation didn’t have a budget. There is no reference to these most frequently assigned deacon duties. The point is not that the management of property and finances isn’t important. Quite the contrary. It is. But, it is not the deacons’ main responsibility. The deacons were, first, to participate in the ministry of the church by meeting the physical needs of the congregants and those in their surrounding community. Everything else that they did was to enable them to accomplish this responsibility.
There are Resources to Distribute
The congregation had resources to distribute for the glory of God. The congregants had willingly and generously given their possessions so that the needs of men, women, and children could be met (4:32-37). It was the deacons’ job to distribute these resources in order to minister to the people. They were to lead the congregation in meeting physical needs. They were lead the congregants in being good stewards of their personal resources and those of the congregations. They were to facilitate gospel ministry with the distribution of resources.
There Was Church Growth
“The word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (6:7). The church grew because of the deacons’ ministry. Can you believe that? The deacons led the church in meeting the needs of those within and without the congregation, and the church grew. God used this deacon ministry, this servant ministry to bring people, even priests, to himself. Wow.
Deacons are part of God’s plan to redeem the world. They are to make this vision of meeting physical needs through service and the management and distribution of the congregation’s resources a reality. That’s a privilege.