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Throughout the ages, the church has made many attempts to interpret and faithfully implement instructions God gives regarding church structure and leadership roles. Crossroads implements an elder-led, non-denominational leadership model. This means that independent of any larger organization, our elder board seeks God in prayer and humility to oversee the body and apply God’s Word to the functions of the church.
We hope this short explanation will help you understand how we look specifically at the office of Deacon. We recognize that the Bible gives two “offices” that provide leadership for the church. The office of “Elder,” which is often translated as overseer or shepherd and the office of “Deacon,” which is usually translated as servant.
Although it’s unclear where the role of deacon was established, we believe the concept of who a deacon is and what a deacon does was introduced in Acts 6:1-6. At a time when the early church was growing, and the amount of work to be done was increasing, the elders appointed 6 men to serve a specific group of people - Hebraic widows. The responsibility of making sure these widows were cared for was turned over to this group of servants so that the elders could maintain their focus on proclaiming the Word of God. Outside of the definition of the word “servant”, there is no job description for a deacon. There are only 3 other references (NIV translation) in the New Testament, and they relate to title and qualifications – Romans 16:1, Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
Based on God’s revelation above, and giving consideration to church history, we define a deacon as any man or woman who faithfully fulfills a specific responsibility or serves a specific group of people thereby allowing the church to fulfill its purpose of proclaiming the kingdom of God (Proverbs 16:1). We’ve chosen not to give all those people the title of deacon, generically, but rather to give them titles as needed which identify their servant-responsibility to the group of people they care for. For example, our Student Ministries Pastor serves middle and high school students and our Finance Manager has the responsibility of managing the way we steward financial resources. They are deacons in the Biblical sense.
Of course, these responsibilities are not confined to paid staff. Many key volunteers who go through a review and application process would be considered deacons as well, and the list is always changing based on who God brings and where he is leading us. So, Crossroads has hundreds of deacons who fulfill a specific responsibility or serve specific groups of people. All servant-leaders (i.e. deacons) outside of the staff level are vetted through relationships according to the biblical qualifications noted previously.