Deacons/Deaconesses

The word “deacon” comes from the Greek diakonos, which means “servant”, following Jesus’ example in Mark 10:45, “for even the Son of Man came not be served (diakoneo) but to serve (diakoneo), and to give his life as a ransom for many”

PURPOSE

Deacons at Hope Oakville serve and mobilize (Acts 6:1-7) the people of Hope to follow Jesus’ life of servant compassion (Mark 10:43-45) and his command to love one another as he has loved us (John 13:34), and to love our neighbour (Matt 22:39), in acts of compassion and mercy towards those with practical and visible needs.

WHY DEACONS?

In Acts 6, the deacons served the church by meeting physical and administrative needs. A deacon is an official servant recognized by the church to help the pastors protect and prioritize the church’s mission by meeting the tangible needs of the congregation. In the past, Hope Oakville had deacons that served when our church was smaller in size, in the areas of Finance, Facilities and Benevolence. By God’s grace the church has grown in size and staff and deacons will focus not on the “administrative” but on the “physical” needs of the body of Christ.

DEACON QUALIFICATIONS

As per God’s Word, Paul’s focus to Timothy (and the rest of us) regarding deacons was not on what deacons can do, but instead on who deacons must be. This reiterates how God cares more about character than about gifting. At Hope, we too will focus on the biblical qualifications when choosing deacons, as per 1 Timothy 3:8-13. These qualifications begin with being dignified (worthy of respect, above reproach) which includes the following characteristics:

  • Not double-tongued (guard their tongues and ears)
  • Not addicted to wine (self-controlled)
  • Not greedy for dishonest gain (not a lover of money)
  • Hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience (know, hold, and live the faith)
  • Tested and proven hearts of compassion, humility, and faithfulness to God and His body
  • Faithful family life (godliness must begin with the closest relationships)
  • Men and Women

THE JUSTIFICATION FOR WOMEN DEACONS

1.) The Bible does not forbid women deacons. According to Scripture, we affirm that every leadership opportunity is open to women, including the role of deacon, except when prohibited by Scripture, as with the role of elder/pastor. Deacons “lead by serving” and are primarily charged with helping in areas of need which will include making decisions about resources and calling others to help.

2.) Paul referred to women deacons, not deacons’ wives in 1 Timothy 3:11. Although the ESV states “their wives (gynaikas) likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things," there is a footnote in the ESV Bible, that the term “gynaikas” can mean either “wives” or “women.” Paul uses the same term eight other times in 1 Timothy, which are all best translated as “women.” The possessive pronoun “Their" from “their wives” is not in the original text but was added to support the translation “wives.” It also seems odd to focus attention on deacons’ wives in verse 11 and for Paul to not have commented on the qualifications of elders' wives in 1 Timothy 3:1-7.  

3.) Phoebe was a deacon and not just a servant. (Romans 16:1) It is significant that Phoebe was called a “diakonos” of a specific church in Cenchrae, and not like many other references in the Bible to a believer being a servant of the gospel or of Christ.

4.)There have been many deaconesses in church history, from writings of Christians such as Clement of Alexandria (AD150-215), Origen of Alexandria (AD 184-253), the Apostolic Constitutions (AD 380), John Chrysostom (AD 349-407), Jerome (AD 347-420, John Calvin (1509-1564) and Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), who wrote “Deaconesses, an office that most certainly was recognized in the apostolic churches,” and “It would be a great mercy if God gave us the privilege of having many sons who all preached the gospel and many daughters who were all eminent in the church as teachers, deaconesses, missionaries, and the like.” A few deaconesses in church history, such as Olympias, Pentadia, Salvina, Anastasia, and Theosebia, represent thousands whose names remain hidden to us but known to their Lord whom they served faithfully.

Reference: Matt Smethurst, “Deacons—How they serve and strengthen the church”, pp 135-152, “May women serve as deacons?”

NOMINATION AND SELECTION

Members of Hope Oakville can nominate candidates for Deacons by completing the online nomination form. Nominated persons will be contacted and, if interested, will need to complete a questionnaire and an interview. Qualified candidates will be invited for training.