Deacon Affirmation Process
God identifies certain character qualifications for deacons in a local church (1 Timothy 3:8-13) and provides an initial template for their ministry of mercy (Acts 6:1-7).
We believe that deacons are primarily responsible to coordinate relief for physical needs. In other words, they are not primarily responsible for general administrative oversight, building or property management, or for teaching. As Alexander Strauch writes, “Through the deacons, the local church’s charitable activities are effectively organized and centralized….They help the poor, the jobless, the sick, the widowed, the elderly, the homeless, the shut-in, the refugees, and the disabled.” (The New Testament Deacon, 156)
Here is a brief explanation of our process at Trinity Evangel Church for testing and affirming current deacons as well as recognizing candidates for possible deaconship.
First stage (near the beginning of April): Conduct a formal review by all current elders and current deacons of all current deacons. This review will include but is not limited to the following:
- Are you meeting all of the character qualifications for deacons found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13?
- Do you continue to desire to serve in the office of deacon?
- Do you fully affirm the doctrinal statement of Trinity Evangel Church (per the requirement for deacons to “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” 1 Timothy 3:9) or, if not, what are your hesitations?
- How would you describe the spiritual fruitfulness of your ministry of mercy responsibilities?
- Do you believe that the congregation affirms your deaconship?
Second stage (near the end of April): Announce deacons and candidates (who were introduced the previous year) to the church.
Third stage (throughout May): Provide one month for discussions, both for recommending new candidates for the office of deacon as well as working through any concerns with current deacons.
Anyone may recommend a man for consideration to be a deacon. Men recommended during this time and affirmed by the current elders will be introduced as candidates to the entire church. Any prospective deacon will be “tested” for at least a year following the principles for testing deacons in 1 Timothy 3.
Fourth stage (near the end of May): Acknowledge and affirm the deacons at a public service of the church. Announce any deacon candidates who will serve in testing for the following year.
- We hope that our church would never need to depend solely on this review in order to deal with unqualified leaders. In other words, elders, deacons, and the flock should be addressing problems throughout the year. Nevertheless, the formal review has liturgical value for the entire church.
- We expect all believers to observe the process outlined in Matthew 18 when it comes to confronting sin, namely, to start by confronting “between you and him alone.” However, observing a man’s qualifications (or lack thereof) for being a deacon may concern something that isn’t necessarily a sin issue. The one with concern is encouraged to speak personally to the deacon/candidate but, if he feels intimidated or is concerned that he will be blown off, he is encouraged to take a witness along with him. If that does not resolve the concern, the elders should be included in the process.
- When it comes to nominations of candidates and concerns for current deacons, the flock is encouraged to speak, in person, to the persons involved. We believe that face to face conversation ought to supersede written notes, letters, or emails.
- We encourage men to speak on the behalf of their families in relaying concerns regarding a deacon or deacon candidate. If an unmarried woman has concern, we encourage her to filter her concerns through her Life to Life leaders.
- We will publish the above process, including the review questions, on the church website as an ongoing reminder of deacon accountability.
Additional Process for the First Time
- Invite all men to read and discuss The New Testament Deacon by Alexander Strauch.
- Invite feedback about the process at a regularly scheduled Men to Men, and due to the timing in the year, we will invite them to nominate any deacons to the elders through the month of December (2012).
- The elders will recommend the first deacons at the beginning of January (2013) to be affirmed in May per the normal, though shortened, testing process.