Although this post does not cover (in-depth) the biblical qualifications for the diaconate, the corresponding public vows provide some insight into the character and quality of the men who have been called to serve the church. In future posts, I will address the qualifications, selection, and training of deacons. This post, however, focuses on the public affirmation of deacon candidates to the deacon ministry.
I recognize that churches have different processes for selecting, training, and appointing deacons. Yet, I’ve found very few persons who can articulate the reasons for their approaches. Sadly, most leaders just employ a practice they’ve inherited without any meaningful reflection on the biblical principles and purposes for the deacon ministry. Thus, it may be helpful to consider the following outline as a starting point before organizing or reforming a deacon ministry.
1. The most important aspect of deacon ministry is the character of the men selected to serve (cf. 1 Timothy 3:8-13).
2. God ordains those who will serve in the church. The church affirms those whom God has called (cf. Acts 6).
3. Deacons know, love, and defend the gospel (1 Timothy 3:9).
4. Deacons should be set apart for a season of training (1 Timothy 3:10).
5. Deacons should publicly testify to and demonstrate their unwavering commitment to Christ and His church (cf. 1 Timothy 3:13).
The Public Affirmation of Deacons
I realize that some may be critical of making vows and do so by mischaracterizing the words of our Lord (cf. Matt. 5:33-37). However, what we mean by a vow is not a “swearing by” anything or anyone. Instead, we view the deacon vows as a public declaration of what the deacon believes, whom he will rely upon, and how he will carry out his calling.
The Deacon Vows of Sovereign Grace Church
To the deacon(s) being affirmed…
1. Do you reaffirm your faith in Jesus Christ as your own personal Lord and Savior? [I do.]
2. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, totally trustworthy, fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, the supreme, final, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice? [I do.]
3. Do you sincerely believe the Articles of Faith of this church contain the truth taught in the Holy Scriptures? [I do.]
4. Do you promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the statements in the Articles of Faith you will on your own initiative make known to the pastor(s) the change which has taken place in your views since your assumption of this vow? [I do.]
5. Do you subscribe to the government and discipline of Sovereign Grace Church? [I do.]
6, Do you promise to submit to and assist your pastor(s) in the Lord? [I do, with God’s help.]
7. Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to accept the office of deacon from a love of God and sincere desire to promote His glory in the gospel of His Son? [I have.]
8. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in promoting the truths of the gospel and the purity and peace of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise to you on that account? [I do, with God’s help.]
9. Will you be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as deacon, whether personal or relative, private or public, and will you endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the gospel in your manner of life, and to walk with exemplary piety before this congregation? [I will, by the grace of God.]
10. Are you now willing to take personal responsibility in the life of this congregation as a deacon to serve this body faithfully, relying upon the grace of God, in such a way that Sovereign Grace Church will be blessed? [I am, with the help of God.]
To the congregation …
1. Do you, the members of Sovereign Grace Church, acknowledge and publicly receive these men (this man) as deacons, as servants of Christ to this church? [We do.]
2. Will you love them and pray for them in their ministry, and work together with them humbly and cheerfully, that by the grace of God you may accomplish the mission of the church, giving them all due honor and support in their servant-leadership to which the Lord has called them, to the glory and honor of God? [We will.]