Deacons: Clarifying What Really Matters Now


Many people are comfortable in "their churches" while the world around them deteriorates and yearns for God. To many church leaders and members, being comfortable with the way they do church is more important than risking discomfort and unfamiliarity in order to reach the world with the Good News.

How might deacons lead our congregations to act differently in the "new normal"?

 

If we look carefully at Acts 3–8, it becomes clear that those early deacons paid close attention to their world's conditions—physical, spiritual and relational. Some of them even became martyrs because their convictions were so deep and life-altering. The harsh realities of our world and the painful condition of many of our churches scream for the attention of our spiritual leaders and church members.

 

What Really Matters Now?

 

While God is certainly real and clearly moving in many churches and parts of the world, it is equally true that God doesn't seem to be very active or evident at all in many churches and in many lives. 

 

Many people are comfortable in "their churches" while the world around them deteriorates and yearns for God. To many church leaders and members, being comfortable with the way they do church is more important than risking discomfort and unfamiliarity in order to reach the world with the Good News. 

 

So, what really matters now?

 

  • The comfort of the church member, or the ability to take risks and reach the unchurched?
  • Having a pastor and deacons that care for every need of the membership, or having deacons and pastors that "equip the saints for their work of ministry" (Eph 4)?
  • Using our financial, human and building resources to accommodate our needs, or allowing God to use our resources to accommodate and reach those outside our membership?
  • Telling others what they should believe, or learning to listen to non-Christians, building relationships with them so they might observe who we are and ask why we live the life we live?
  • Learning to build and live in our exclusive congregations and gatherings, or learning to live and relate in our pluralistic world and create inclusive groups so non-believers and non-members might feel more comfortable visiting?
  • Creating more programs for us, or creating more non-threatening entry points that would create a Christian witness in various institutions and communities in our state and nation?

I realize these questions threaten and even unsettle some people, but I am convinced they are worthy of discussion and prayer by at least our spiritual leaders. I also know that in many situations the church talks a good talk, but the world is keenly aware that our words and our behaviors often do not match. 

 

I also believe that the ideal is not "either/or" but "both/and" in most of these situations. The problem with this is that our history is clear: We have far too often spent more time and money on "us" than on reaching and ministering to "them." Thus, the condition of our world and church.

 

Resources for Your Review and Continued Study

 

Eddie Hammett is leadership/discipleship consultant for Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and adjunct professor at Gardner Webb Divinity School.

 

Buy Hammett's books now from Amazon.com!

 

Making the Church Work: Converting the Church for the 21st Century

The Gathered and Scattered Church

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