Deacons-The Process of Selection
To start the process of selecting a deacon there must be a need in the church. Conditions must be at a point where it becomes obvious that there is or will soon be a need for selecting a man or men to fill the office of deacon. And a deacon ought not to be considered when there is no need within the church body. We remember again back in Acts chapter six that there was a need in the first church. And to fill that need seven men were chosen and set into the office to aid the ministry in the service of the church.
It should be that the pastor and other deacons, as well as the church membership who ought to have been discussing this need among themselves long before the question of choosing a deacon come to the forefront. They all should already have been praying to “the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:38).
And then this having been done the pastor should call for a conference of the church body to consider these men. The pastor and deacons should have already prayerfully considered the “qualities” of each of the men who they are about to consider putting before the church. And with conference being opened, the nominations should then be brought before the body for further consideration.
There should be the same spirit of unity and participation that follows after the original pattern that is set forth for us in the sixth chapter of Acts. The man or men that are set forth for consideration should be selected by the prayerful counsel of God the Holy Spirit. I can’t stress this enough, prayer must under gird each and every selection, every choice, and every action that is to be taken by the church. And since the New Testament has only two offices in the church, it becomes imperative that we as the church must not move without this prayer, and guidance by the Holy Ghost, or else there can be almost irreparable mistakes made by being careless about the selection of people to these offices. We MUST have the leadership of the Holy Ghost; so it is critical that we move quickly to seek His will, counsel and guidance.
Every good and faithful church, with her praying membership will ever be watchful for what the needs of the body are. And we find that such a church has a good and faithful pastor and good faithful deacons who long before the need becomes detrimental to the church will have already began the discussion of the considering of choosing new deacons. And it is the pastor who probably who above all others ought to be vitally interested in this selection. This is because of the position to which God has called him to and the confidence of the membership that his leadership in the church is a work of the Holy Spirit, which makes it necessary to consider his judgment to be of great value. The church membership holds to the fact that their relationship is one that is born out of the will of God.
But we must remember that the church must not rely solely on the pastor and the deacons to make the selection. Yes, it is true that the pastor has the overall leadership role under the authority of Jesus Christ, but it is to be ardently understood that he is still, and will always be a servant to the will of God and the church to which he serves, i.e. the congregation. And we ought to be very careful to not elevate any human being above that which is to the point of being “lorded over God’s heritage.”
Notice too that the first deacons were “appointed” or “ordained” by the apostles, but they were elected by the congregation. This is our God given pattern that we are to follow after. And with that being said, I am certain that it is always a good thing for the church to consult with their pastor in this matter, but I am equally certain that the choice belongs to the church as a whole.
The most frequent method of selecting a deacon is during the conference meeting, after much consideration, the pastor, serving as the Moderator calls upon the church to put forth nominations. And this places the initiative on the congregation, with each member having an equal opportunity to speak on the matter. After nominations have been passed on and accepted by the Moderator. Then he will move to consider the floor open to the congregation for each member to discuss the merits and “qualities” of each nominee. It is at this point if any one knows of any reason why a person who is nominated is not “qualified” and ought not to hold the office in light of the New Testament scriptures, they are to openly say so at this time. This is the correct time to do this because it is not appropriate to call into question these matters after the person has been placed into his office! After which he will call for a vote, either with ballets that are laid out for open inspection by all the membership, or by a voice vote. And the church having made their choice will then move on to have the nominee set before the elders for the laying on of hands in a duly formed presbytery. The Pastor appoint a set time to ordain the person or persons that the church have selected, and then he will then send out word, usually by letter to other sister churches of whom are of the same faith and he is certain are in scriptural order of the old line Primitive Baptist church requesting that they each send forth any ordained help in the effort to set upon a presbytery.
Next, we undertake to go into the actual ordination service.