SUNDAY PREVIEW: A Fresh Look at the Role of Deacons
For the last few years, the staff and the elders at Oldham Lane have been meeting periodically to discuss VISION. We call these gatherings Think Bigger. Do Better meetings, and the goal is to discuss things pertaining to our future and how we can help Oldham Lane reach greater heights. The primary focus in our last meeting was on deacons and our approach to ministry. Here’s how we commonly look at deacons within the Lord’s church: there’s a task that needs to be done, so we get a guy to do the task. That’s it. Mission accomplished. What if we thought in bigger terms? What if every elder, every member, every deacon looked at the tasks within the Lord’s church with a mission- mindset rather than a task-oriented mindset? What if everything we did centered around this: MAKING & GROWING DISCIPLES? Instead of appointing a man to do a task, we’re appointing a man to serve in a ministry with the goal of making and growing disciples.
For instance, during our meeting one of our elders, Tim Smith, mentioned Royal Estates–a nursing home where we currently conduct a worship service every Sunday evening. There are four different groups in our congregation that rotate the responsibility of conducting the service. Tim asked the question, “When is the last time anyone was converted at Royal Estates?” I thought about that for a second. I had never viewed Royal Estates as a mission field. Tim then asked a follow-up question, “What if we got to Royal Estates early every Sunday evening and knocked on the doors of the residents and invited them to the service? And what if we put more effort into organizing the service in a way that showed the residents how serious we are about making and growing disciples?” It’s easy for a ministry, such as Royal Estates, to become a task. And I think, to some degree, that has happened. But what if every ministry at the Oldham Lane Church of Christ were viewed as relationship-oriented and approached from a missional standpoint?
Deacons must understand that the SPIRITUAL COMES BEFORE THE PHYSICAL. It’s not just about carrying out a task. It’s understanding the WHY. Why are you carrying out that particular task? Because of the mission, which is MAKING & GROWING DISCIPLES. Once you’ve invested in the WHY, then you can move to the HOW—how do I carry out this task and accomplish the ultimate goal? All too often, what happens is that a deacon is assigned a task and the only goal is to get it done. But just getting it done falls short of the goal. We must grab hold of the WHY. We must all be on the same page–the elders, the staff, the deacons, the members. We must all be reading from the same script in order to accomplish the goal.
We have reached a point in the life of Oldham Lane where we need more deacons to serve. We can select and appoint men who will get the job done. Or, we can select and appoint men who will accomplish the mission. We don’t just want men who are task-oriented. We’re looking for a few good men who are mission-minded.