Deacons as Leaders is a small collection of essays complied by Robert Sheffield.The essays are simple, practical, and, in the main, helpful. This book would be ideal to use in deacon training. My only real complaint is that Robert Sheffield’s essay was full of formatting gaffs like oversized footnote numbers and the use of the time “pastured” instead of “pastored” (twice). I didn’t see these kinds of mistakes in any other essay, and I can only imagine that the LifeWay editors received his essay too late to give it a really careful reading.
Charles Deweese’s essay was very helpful, as was Jerry Songer’s essay, “Deacons Leading With Pastor and Staff.” All of the essays in this book rejected the corporate idea of the deacons being a “board.” They all seemed to agree that ministering to people was the heart and soul of the deacon ministry, even as some of them allowed for certain administrative tasks as well.
It seems to me that this is one of the vexing issues facing pastors and deacons today: how best to balance the service/ministry aspects of the deacon body with the administrative aspects that many Baptist congregations expect as well? It is encouraging to note that that the modern mood among churches in the Southern Baptist Convention at least recognizes that there is something deficient about deacon bodies that do not stress ministry, even if greater steps towards actual ministry are lacking in too many quarters.
One senses that the concept of “deacon” in Southern Baptist life is in a state of flux. As such, certain important conversations need to be taking place. To this end, a little book like this could be very helpful.