For the bulk of my ministry, I have been intrigued with the biblical concept of servant leadership. And if you have paid attention, its tenets have enjoyed resurgence in both organizational and personal development over the past couple of decades. As Christ followers, we should not be surprised; after all, that is the way Jesus lived and led. And it’s the way he clearly encouraged his disciples to follow the lead of his words and actions. Still does.
The book of Acts is an intriguing narrative about the beginnings and establishment of the early Christian church. Referred to as “The Acts of the Apostles”, this sequel to Luke’s gospel is neatly divided into the stories of Peter and Paul and the cast of characters that accompanied them. This first post-gospel biblical entry presents a story line of the unbelievable and the absolutely predictable happenings surrounding the first century church. And it didn’t take them long to arrive at the intersection of practical need and personal response. The answer was the calling of the first deacons.
Sunday evening we experienced the joy of ordaining sixteen wonderful folks to the ministry of deacon. We asked them to do the same kind of thing Peter expected of the first of their like. Wait tables. Serve the people. Advance the ministry. Protect the fellowship. And let me say, these that we laid hands on Sunday are wonderfully qualified and specifically called to do all that.
Through the elevation of this ministry we will experience an increase in care for the sick, hurt, and aging among us. We will be better equipped to respond in times of special need. Our practice of prayer will grow deeper and spread out wider. We will become more welcoming and engaging. We will involve more folks in the care of the building and grounds that house our church. We will see more intertwining of clergy and laity in the daily activity of ministry. We will grow deeper, broader, larger, warmer, and stronger.
That’s a lot of “we wills”, but I declare them with confidence. I have confidence in the biblical model and ministry of deacon. I have confidence in the men and women we have called to carry it out. I have confidence in God’s design and desire for the church FBC St. Pete. But most of all, I have confidence in Christ, by whose strength and guidance it may happen. And these folks will help us all to lean into both.