Identity crises: is there a role for deacons in 21st century Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches?
LE3 .A278 2008
Doctor of Ministry
Acadia Divinity College
Robert E. Naylor in the opening chapter of his book, The Baptist Deacon, asks the following question; “Are deacons needed now?” Citing issues such as a changed world, misunderstood office and leadership tensions, Naylor recognized the traditional deacon - pastor model in Baptist churches is being strained and in some cases replaced. What is eye opening is that he was writing fifty years ago! In this thesis, the writer has examined the deacons’ office to its present day application. The first chapter deals with the scriptural underpinnings and principles of leadership in general, and the eldership or deaconship specifically. The second chapter examines how the Church interpreted this role up to and including the Reformation. The third chapter explores the birth of Baptist office of deacon and seeks to understand its context within Baptist culture. The fourth chapter explores the document trail that leads to the 1905/06 Statement of Union, specifying how Atlantic Baptists have interpreted the role of deacons. The fifth chapter describes the thesis project whereby three comparably sized congregations were examined in relation to a change in their diaconal or organizational structure. The sixth, seventh and eighth chapters are three case studies of different leadership models. The final chapter offers a proposed approach to how churches may wish to address the deacon’s role today. This paper utilizes the New American Standard Bible as the default translation for all Scriptures. The case studies provided the researcher with greater clarity and insight into the thought processes of the churches and their leaders as they wrestled with the deacon role and relevance.
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