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KBC releases handbook to promote healthy deacons, healthy churches

LEXINGTON (BP) — A healthy deacon leads to a healthy deacon ministry, which is an important part of a healthy church.

Such is the principle behind “The Deacon Ministry Handbook,” released through the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Church Consulting and Revitalization team.

Steve Rice, who leads the team, said the book came about after studying just how crucial effective deacons are to a healthy church and a desire to increase resources for that area.

“The tools we were using were good, but they were not recent. There wasn’t anything available we were aware of that fit our context, so we wanted to produce something that would speak to laymen,” said Rice.

The 144-page book is available through B&H Publishing and was authored by KBC staff. Video guides are also available for individuals or group study.

Royalties from book sales will go toward church revitalization and health efforts, Rice said. A Brazilian publisher has expressed interest in a Portuguese translation.

Todd Gray, KBC executive director, pointed to the years of ministry experience among the convention’s six regional consultants who contributed to the book.

“These leaders know first-hand that when a pastor and deacon relationship is working well, then ministry is accomplished and the Great Commission can advance,” he said. “While the book has been well-received by Kentucky Baptist leaders, our prayer is that it will be a resource that will be utilized by churches across the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Alan Witham, Central Region consultant and the Regional Consultants Group leader, said that various aspects of deacon ministry – both theological and “how-tos” such as hospital visitations – are addressed in the book’s eight chapters and 25 accompanying videos.

The large number of videos is based on the team’s desire to keeping the videos relatively short, no longer than 15 minutes with most holding  to the seven- or eight-minute mark.

Chapter 7, for instance, is split into videos of less than five minutes each to address various activities of a deacon. 

“Those (the videos) were provided for occasions such as at the beginning of a deacons meeting,” said Witham. “They help raise a deacon’s leadership IQ.”

The book also discusses different models of deacon ministry to help churches find the right one for them.

“When deacons function in a biblical model, they contribute greatly to the church functioning at its greatest potential,” said Witham. “But when deacons and other church members are cheering on their pastor while watching from the sideline, the church is operating at less than what it could be.”

Church members and visitors can’t help but notice the positive effects of a healthy deacon ministry, he added.

“It shows servant leaders doing what it means to serve others and Christ. You see a model of shared ministry where people are living out their part of the Body,” Witham said.

Rice said two copies – for the pastor and deacon chair – of the resource are slated to go out to all 2,400 KBC churches.

“You show me a roomful of men actively seeking God,” he said, “and you’ll have a healthy deacon ministry.”