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Deacons: The Road Ahead

by | Feb 28, 2013 | News

I remember taking driver’s ed. My teacher was an almost-retired assistant football coach with a pack-a-day habit (probably exaggerated by driver’s ed). I remember one time riding while another guy was driving. He hit a pothole and jerked the wheel. The car left the proper lane and landed in the ditch on the other side of the dirt road. The coach/ instructor with his hands and voice shaking said, “That’s good. You stopped the car.”

Not sure what he was smoking to gain such generous optimism.

Sunday, we studied 1 Timothy 3:8-13 where Paul directs Timothy to set up the office of deacon to serve the church by assisting the elders in various areas of ministry. You can listen here or read more about this in our “Deacons at Exodus” paper.

One area that biblically faithful Christians disagree about is 1 Timothy 3:11. Is this about the wives of deacons or is this about women who serve as deacons? Most translations have a footnote that rightly translates the verse without the possessive pronoun. The “their” is not “there”. Then, the question of wives or women is the last matter. Most agree that husband of one wife literally means “one woman man” in v. 12. The same word for woman (literally) is used in v. 11 and 12. This and other reasons lead our elders to support women serving as deacons. Again, you can listen to the sermon or read the paper for the full explanation.

As we have prayed through this and started discussing this with our leaders at Exodus, one of the common responses has been a desire to see it in practice. What’s it going to look like for us to have deacons? What will it look like for women to serve as deacons? How exactly is this going to flesh out in our cultural expression of the church at Exodus?

As I think about this, I’m very aware that the easiest place to walk is on the sidewalk. We could walk on either the egalitarian sidewalk of women doing everything (we find this to be an unbiblical position) or the hierarchical sidewalk of women doing “nothing” (or rather doing lots without a title—most churches without women deacons have lots of women fulfilling deacon roles.) The safest place is one of the extremes. But, God hasn’t called us to safe places. He’s called Exodus Church to be a people of men and women who are mobilized and equipped for the highway of gospel ministry for the name and fame of Jesus.

There will be potholes on this journey. And we will hit some of them. There will be mistakes we make, lessons we learn and corrections we make. Our hope is that we would not wreck the car reacting to potholes, but that we would see God graciously give wisdom as we labor in this journey.

Driving on the highway is not easy. But, we are convinced that the journey is going to be an awesome ride as we seek for the gifts and abilities of men and women to be encouraged and mobilized for gospel ministry through the office of deacon and other roles that men and women can fulfill in the mission of Jesus in the local church.

 

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