I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. Philippians 1:3-5
I like to tell Deacon jokes for a number of reasons: I was a deacon, I’ve seen some crazy things in deacon meetings, I’ve heard crazy stories about pastors and deacons, and mainly because they are usually funny and easy to relate. Despite the jokes, I have been able to serve with some of the finest men and deacons the past 20 years and for that I am very thankful.
I was ordained as a deacon in April of 1999 at Immanuel Baptist Church in Danville. I was humbled and honored by being asked to serve as a deacon and wanted to be the best deacon I could possibly be. I was given a notebook with my families and I immediately tried to contact all the ones on my list (which was much more difficult than I had expected). I was excited to serve and participate in the life of the church and attend the deacon meetings. Our pastor resigned shortly after I became a deacon and so there was a transition period. After months of attending deacon meetings, I discovered that we seemed to talk about everything but serving. I was the young guy so I didn’t say much.
In 2000, we got a new pastor his family was put on my deacon family list. I loved him and his family. As time went on, it seemed that every month the deacons would question every little thing he did (like not properly recording his odometer readings on his mileage reimbursement). I could share a few crazy stories but I vividly remember an older deacon saying to the pastor “we can take it out back if we need to.” After about a year of badgering the pastor, I couldn’t take it anymore. In one particular meeting, I felt like the Spirit gave me such righteous anger that I thought I was going to explode if I didn’t say something. I finally said, “that’s enough! You are not going to talk to my pastor like that.” (I was ready to take it out back if need be.)
When I became a pastor, I wanted to work with deacons and see them as partners in the gospel and not my enemies. I often think back about becoming a deacon and how I really just wanted to know how to serve the needs of the church. As a pastor, I don’t want to pile up a bunch of “stuff” on the backs of deacons and make them feel guilty when they don’t accomplish those expectations. I’d rather just give them a few things (like caring for widows and shut-ins and helping with particular needs that arise at church). From my experience, good deacons just want to know where/how to serve and they jump right in.
Our deacons at BBC did a short survey and had a social distanced retreat in May and had some meaningful discussions about how to best serve the church. They want to make themselves available to serve the needs of the church. You will soon receive a letter or email with the list of deacons and their contact information. They earnestly have a desire to serve and have been a tremendous blessing during the COVID crisis in helping with drive-in services, our food distribution, seating and sanitizing, and meeting other needs that have come to our attention.
We also worked on a mission statement to help them stay more focused. The mission of the Deacon Ministry at Burlington Baptist is to serve alongside the pastor and staff in fulfilling the Great Commission, providing pastoral care for our members, and meeting the various needs of the body. This will be accomplished by serving, praying, equipping, encouraging, witnessing, and living on mission for the sake of Christ. I appreciate the steps the deacons are taking to be faithful servants and gospel partners. I look forward to working with them and will be talking more about deacon selection and ministry in the next couple of months. And, I’m always looking for good deacon jokes. If you hear a good one, please pass it along.