The term "deacon" means to minister or serve. Within each Baptist church is a group of deacons chosen for devout attributes who assist the pastor, preach to the congregation and reach out to the community.
Qualifications for Baptist deacons differ between churches. Some churches require that deacons be ordained and trained similar to pastors. Some churches permit only men to become deacons, while others allow men and women. The Bible passages Acts 6 and Timothy 3:8-13 address spiritual and moral qualifications for deacons, which include wisdom, faith, honesty and sincerity. The Bible also states that a deacon must manage a household well and drink alcohol sparingly.
Within the church organizational structure, Baptist deacons perform duties to support the pastor. In some churches, deacons administer communion and collect financial offerings. While it is the pastor's job to pray for the needs of the church and oversee internal ministry, deacons make themselves available to members for prayer and guidance to alleviate the workload of the pastor.
Because church organizations in the U.S. are tax-exempt, the law requires that they establish boards and committees for budgeting, government reporting and decision-making. This is intended to create a checks and balances system within each church. Baptist deacons serve on these boards and committees to guide the congregation and act as financial advisers and counsel to pastors and elders.
Deacons assist pastors in community outreach by ministering the gospel outside the church, visiting the sick and homebound, recruiting and receiving new members and traveling on missionary trips. Within a congregation, deacons set examples of compassion and stewardship. The deacons also help with educating and nurturing youth within and outside of the church.
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