Beginning in 2020, the elders plan to build on the parish model by utilizing ministry assistants, or Parish Deacons, to extend our reach in caring for the church. Why are we doing this? The simple answer is we care about our people! We also believe using deacons as assistants is faithful to the biblical teaching on the diaconate for three key reasons:
1. Deacons as Servant Leaders
First, the word “deacon” in the passages of Scripture referring to the biblical office (Phil 1:1, 1 Tim 3:8-13) is an English transliteration of the Greek word diakonos, which usually means “servant” but can also mean “assistant” or “aide.”
2. Deacons as Aides to the Church and to Elders
Second, in both passages of Scripture in which deacons are mentioned, they are referenced in relationship to the elders. The context seems to imply that the work of deacons is related in a subordinate way to the work of elders, who provide spiritual care for the church (Acts 20:28). This explains why the character qualifications of deacons is so similar to those of elders. The primary distinction between elders and deacons is the elders’ responsibility to exercise oversight (1 Pet 5:2) and teach (Acts 6:4; 1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:9).
3. Deacons as Compassion Ministry Helpers
Finally, the first deacons in Acts 6 weren’t involved solely in “temporal matters” but administered a compassion ministry to church members in need. Deacons are instrumental in caring for the physical needs of the church body through various stages and trials in life.
Qualifications & Training for Deacons
Because God’s Word teaches that deacons must first be “tested” before serving (1 Tim. 3:10), a committee of elders has worked to identify and develop members of our church to serve in the office of Parish Deacon. Each of the 26 individuals who have been selected for this role has participated in a multi-week training course called the “Servant Leaders Training,” which involved readings, lectures, and discussion.
Candidates also completed an online assessment and were interviewed by an elder to verify their qualifications for the office of deacon.
The Responsibilities of Deacons
Deaconate candidates who are approved by the congregation will serve a three-year term. We anticipate additional candidates to be nominated for service as deacons in 2020 and beyond.
Among the tasks of a deacon envisioned by the elders are:
- Administration of parish events
- Maintaining parish member rolls
- Contacting parish members for prayer requests
- Assisting in caring for members in crisis
- Coordinating meal trains and other benevolent assistance
While not exhaustive, this list gives a general idea of what you can expect from your Parish Deacons.
For more information on member care at College Park, view the Elder Parish Map.