Why Read “The Deacon”

It is my hope that this book may help equip and encourage deacons and enable members of the church to grow in appreciation of the diaconal task.

Each age in the history of the church has its own challenges in applying the biblical instructions on the diaconate to today’s pressing issues. This book seeks to address the questions that are raised. Should the diaconal office not be open to women? Is there still really any need for the diaconal office with government safety nets, welfare agencies, and insurances that can take care of just about anything. But what about the poor in the less developed parts of the world? What task do deacons have concerning this crying need?

 

A newly ordained deacon once asked me: what exactly am I supposed to do? The fact that he made that query was the initial impetus to the writing of this book, not just for the deacon, but also for the average member of a congregation.

Have you ever wondered what the biblical expectations for the deacons in your church are? This office is not always as appreciated as it should be. But, once you understand its biblical basis you will recognize that it is truly a tremendous gift of God. The blessings associated with it are incredible, even in congregations that are financially prosperous and do not appear to have many materially poor in their midst.

The diaconate isn’t just about money. This book hopes to demonstrate that the importance of the deacon goes far beyond simply providing for material needs. This office is all about everyone in the congregation sharing in the joy of salvation. To attain this understanding we need to consider this office within the context of the entire Bible and not just the New Testament.

Doing so raises interesting questions. Why was there no diaconal office in Old Testament Israel? How did God provide for the poor then? What are the implications and principles for us today? Working through the New Testament material will also help us to understand why God granted this office to the church as well as his current expectations for this office. You may wonder why Rome has a completely different idea of the deacon than Protestant churches. Such queries can be answered by investigating the early history of this office in the patristic and medieval church and considering what happened at the Reformation with its determination to return to the biblical roots of the office.

Each age in the history of the church has its own challenges in applying the biblical instructions on the diaconate to today’s pressing issues. This book seeks to address the questions that are raised. Should the diaconal office not be open to women? Is there still really any need for the diaconal office with government safety nets, welfare agencies, and insurances that can take care of just about anything. But what about the poor in the less developed parts of the world? What task do deacons have concerning this crying need?

This book addresses these and other related questions without letting the theoretical exclude the practical. Understanding the biblical demands and expectations for the diaconal office yields important useful principles and advice for deacons today. To facilitate discussion the book contains questions for discussion and reflection as well as suggestions for further reading.

It is my hope that this book may help equip and encourage deacons and enable members of the church to grow in appreciation of the diaconal task. This office is indispensable for the health of the church.

The Deacon by Cornelis van Dam

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