Deacons Part 1 – Does it take a man

This is a 3 part series on choosing deacons. First we will discuss what is a generally accepted role of deacons in a Baptist church.  Next we will look at the requirements of a deacon (which I have stated several times before).  Finally we will ask why women cannot be deacons.

Below is one Southern Baptist Convention church’s Deacon Organization Charter dated 2008.  This is a very large church near Houston, Texas.  This church does not allow women to serve as deacons. They have adopted the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Let’s play a game.  Can you find anything in this list that can be done ONLY by a MAN? 

PURPOSE:    Deacons are servants of the Church, working with the Sr. Pastor and his staff to carry out the Church mission while protecting the unity of the Church.  The Pastor, at his discretion, may use the Deacons as a sounding board and advisory group.  The Deacons will not function as a “governing board” unless so directed by the Church under special circumstances.

STRUCTURE: Each year the deacon body elects its leadership:
        -To prepare and lead monthly meetings,
        -To coordinate deacon participation in special events
        -To serve as liaison, responsive to Sr. Pastor needs
        -To assure timely communications within deacon body
        -To fill role of chairman when needed
        -To assist Secretary with meeting meetings when needed 
        -To take leadership role on special projects
        -To take minutes of monthly meeting, prepare them for approval
        -To take minutes, record actions at special meetings
        -To maintain accuracy of Deacons Directory
RESPONSIBILITIES:  The Deacons will:

– Utilize their individual spiritual gift(s) in some ministry activity within the Church (e.g. teaching Bible study, singing in the Choir, serving on Committees, ushers, greeters, etc.)
– Participate as an active member on at least one Deacon Ministry Team
– Participate in both regularly scheduled and called Deacon meetings.
– Assist as directed by the Sr. Pastor in serving Communion.
– Assist as necessary with other special Church events (e.g. Church wide fellowships, special worship services, community outreach events, etc.)
– Assist as necessary as prayer support partners for those who come forward either during the invitation time following the worship service(s) or for one-on-one prayer support.
– Nurture the unity of the Church by being ready at all times to give a scriptural explanation for the basic doctrinal beliefs of the Church, actively promote the resolution of conflict between members, and provide positive verbal explanation and support for the goals and objectives of the Church.
– Generally serve and minister to the needs of the Church as they become evident.

Give up?  I do, too, because there is not one thing on this list that requires a man to do the job.  Are you with me?  Are you willing to speak up and tell your church that the duties of a deacon does not require a man?

When a church denies any woman the office of deacon simply because she was born female, they have denied all women.

About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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14 Responses to Deacons Part 1 – Does it take a man

  1. TL says:

    Note that there were women ‘deacons’ in the early church. There was no ‘official’ position of deacons. Deacons were essentially those who ministered and served the church in spiritual matters. Paul called himself and his fellow workers deacons/ministers. It was a general category of those who chose to serve the church in the manner of Matt. 20:26-28. It wasn’t until a few hundred years later as the churches became more organized that deacon and elder were made into official positions.


    • An yet many willingly embrace denying women the right to serve in a capacity that wasn’t even officially organized until several hundred years after Paul wrote his words. What ignorance! What an arrogant mess has been made of Christianity! What harm we continue to do!


  2. Kristen says:

    This is bizarre, really. I thought they used 1 Tim 2:12 to say women could not serve in positions that give them authoritative teaching powers in the church during meetings of the congregation. So– why ARE they excluding women from being deacons? Do they even have a defense?

    I see no reason why women could not be elders or pastors, either. But this exclusion from being deacons fails even by their own interpretation of the Bible.


    • They exclude women simply because of one verse – Verse 12 “a deacon must be the husband of but one wife” HOWEVER, that verse goes on to say “and must manage his children and his household well.” Many churches also use that verse to indicate that the deacon must not ever have been divorced, nor his wife ever been divorced. Few use it to say that a man MUST have a wife, but some do.

      This is from another First Baptist Church in my hometown:
      8.A deacon must be a one woman man. Our church recognizes divorce as an unfortunate result of sin in the world, but also understands the ability of God’s grace to transform and renew those who have experienced it. The phrase, “a one woman man,” means he is not involved in sexual impurity and, if married, is committed to his present wife.

      But they are wrong about that. One woman man means “the husband of one wife and not of multiple wives such as Islam, and some Mormons.”


  3. Kristen says:

    Since Phoebe is specifically referred to as a “deacon” in Romans 16 in the original Greek, then either Phoebe was a married man, or they are wrong in their interpretation of “husband of one wife.”


  4. Mabel Yin says:

    I always think those who prevent gifted and spiritual women from serving God will be getting a good lashing from God on Judgment Day.


  5. TL says:

    Mabel Yin, true but that doesn’t do much for the slighted and rejected women now. 😦


    • Michelle says:

      …or for the church now, or for the spread of the Good News, now.

      Heh–Phoebe, a married man. Thank you for the grin that gave me. 🙂


  6. Kristen says:

    Since “God don’t call no women deacons” then if they say she wasn’t a deacon, then she wasn’t a deacon. (LOL)

    So much for the “authority of Scripture,” huh? I guess they are right and Paul was wrong?
    And these are the people who like to fault egalitarians for going against “the plain sense” of the Bible! I guess the “plain sense” is only plain if it says what they have decided it says?


  7. Mabel Yin says:

    Legalism versus Christ all over again.


  8. Mabel Yin says:

    Dr. Lynn Mitchell (head of religious studies, Univ. of Houston) said, “a lot of this happened after churches started to have buildings. In the early churches, you can’t prevent women from going “behind the pulpit” because there were none.” I made the observation that Southern Baptists and other male supremacists do allow women to go behind the pulpit……………… to vacuum.


  9. TL says:

    “One woman man means “the husband of one wife and not of multiple wives such as Islam, and some Mormons.”

    Actually, it was an idiom that simply meant faithfulness. Paul was couching what he was saying with the Hebrew way of a play on words. Starting out with ‘faithful is the word/saying’, he goes on to name the first characteristic (not a physical requirement) of a faithful person was to be faithfulness in relationships. You can read more about the idiom concept in “Familiar “Leadership” Heresies Uncovered” by Rev. Bruce Fleming (France). There is a copy on


  10. Mabel Yin says:

    Received a Fuller handout today titled “Women in Ministry” by the late David Scholer, professor of NT. You may read it here:

    Click to access Biblical%20Basis%20For%20Equal%20Partnership.pdf


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