Recently, my church ordained three additional men to the office of deacon. The service, and time afterward, was filled with an air of celebration for what the Lord is doing in our church. The sanctuary was packed and fellowship hall was full of home cooked meals and dessert (we’re Baptist!).
While Ordination Sunday was significant in the life of our church, the work of the church doesn’t stop after the ordination service. There are still things the church should do to make sure their deacons are successful in fulfilling their role.
Here are three practices to employ that help your deacons fulfill their role:
(1) Pray for Them
I know you have heard the phrase: “prayer changes things." While that is an extra-biblical slogan, it is true. Prayer does change things. We have witnessed this time and time again in the life of our church, especially on Wednesday nights. Every Wednesday, we hold a prayer meeting and Bible study. When we start our prayer time, we begin by praising God for the work He has done in our lives, the church, and community, as well as we praise Him for the prayers He has answered. Through this practice, we have come to see that prayer does change things, and it is powerful.
Since prayer is powerful, we should consistently pray for the deacons serving in our churches. We should pray for them to increase in wisdom, guidance, patience, compassion, and love. As well as we should pray for their strength and endurance, as they serve the church and the mission of God.
Might I make a suggestion on how to pray? Divide your deacons up so that you are praying for one, or several, depending on how many you have, each day of the week. So for instance, at my church, we now have five deacons, which means the church should pray for one deacon on Monday, another on Tuesday, another on Wednesday, and so on. I am convinced if you commit to regularly praying for your deacons, you're inviting God to do a mighty work in your church.
(2) Encourage Them
Speaking from experience, one word of encouragement can really spur someone to keep pressing on, to keep fighting the good fight, to keep battling in the trenches of ministry.
If you want your deacons to be all they can be, to serve your church, and Christ’s mission well, you should not only pray for them, but you should also encourage them in their work. Tell them how they are making a difference in your life, the life of your church, and the life of your community.
I am not saying you need to toot their horn, or even make a big announcement, just a simple thanks every now and again, or a quick testimony about how their ministry has impacted your life, or even the life of someone you know. Doing so is all it takes to refuel them for the difficult task at hand, which is something they will need often because ministry and serving others is hard work.
(3) Serve Alongside Them
Yes, deacons are called to serve, but they aren’t call to serve alone. Think about the first deacons in the Jerusalem church. There were seven, but there were also over five thousand members. There is no way seven men served all five thousand members of that first church. They certainly had others helping and serving alongside them.
Now, I understand most churches don’t have a membership base of five thousand. Nevertheless, the principle still applies – we are to serve alongside those who have been set apart for service in God’s church. We aren’t to call, and then leave them to do everything for us. Doing so not only means we are neglecting the use of our own spiritual gifts, but it is also the surest way to burn them out.
Those are several ways the church can help their deacons fulfill their role. I encourage and challenge you to do each and every one of them. To pray for, encourage, and serve alongside your deacons. If you do those three things, I know they will have a successful ministry in your church, and your church will have a successful ministry to your people and the community.