Often deacons begin serving in their office with little training or experience, nor do they possess a working knowledge of Baptist history and distinctives. As a church planter, my goal is to leave behind a well-trained group of deacons as our church graduates to full-fledge self-supporting status. Our monthly deacon meetings are arranged to train current and potential deacons for church leadership with specific emphases that are included every month. The items and the reasons for their inclusion are in the following deacons meeting agenda:
1. Opening in prayer
2. Studying the Biblical qualifications, or characteristics, of deacons or an aspect of deacon ministry helps the men understand the standards. We have enjoyed studying each of the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:8–13. Because of the background of our men and the times in which we live, extra sessions on wine and marriage have been helpful.
3. Reading our church constitution reinforces the role of deacons in the church. The reading takes a brief time, and it underscores the deacons’ responsibility as leaders.
4. Examining the Baptist distinctives helps our deacons understand the Biblical positions that distinguish Baptists from other religious groups. Using the traditional acrostic “BAPTISTS,” we discuss the meaning of a selected distinctive and reference it with Scripture. When people ask our deacons why they are Baptists, they should have an answer. Their knowledge of the Baptist distinctives is important in keeping the church from drifting from its Baptist identity.
5. Taking a brief glimpse at Baptist history gives our deacons a positive sense of heritage. We consider different aspects of Baptist history—its development or a significant person or event.
6. Reading our articles of faith prepares our deacons to defend the doctrinal position of our church. We discuss one statement; each deacon explains its meaning, and we look at the listed Scripture references.
7. Practical training enables our deacons to minister with confidence. Each month we consider one area of deacon ministry, such as preparing for Communion, helping baptismal candidates, interviewing candidates for membership, praying in church, sharing a devotional, witnessing, counseling, or making hospital visits. This involves a few moments of show and tell.
8. Addressing ministry concerns
9. Reviewing the church schedule
10. Reporting on deacon care ministry provides the opportunity for the deacons to give brief updates on their contacts with church people and families under their care. We take time to pray for every person who attends the church.
11. Closing in prayer
This monthly agenda may seem like much to cover, but we usually keep our meetings to two hours. During the first hour we care for agenda items 1–10, and we reserve the second hour for prayer. The agenda works because we are committed to it and try not to waste time during our meetings. As a result of the intentional training of our deacons, the men are ministry leaders at our church.
Roger Ridley, Missionary Pastor (Baptist Church Planters)
Gretna Baptist Church