Deacons: How They Serve and Strengthen the Church

By Matt Smethurst

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Deacons: How They Serve and Strengthen the Church

By Matt Smethurst

... Show All

How Can Deacons Mobilize Service in the Church?

Deacons are essential to a church’s health—yet confusion abounds regarding their biblical job description. What’s their God-given role in a local congregation and how do they relate to the church’s overall mission?

In this short book, Matt Smethurst makes the case that deacons are model servants called to meet tangible needs, organize and mobilize acts of service, preserve the unity of the flock, and support the ministry of the elders. Clearing away common misconceptions, Smethurst offers practical guidance for deploying deacons and helping churches to flourish.

Download eighteen free sample questions for deacon candidates.

Read Chapter 1


Matt Smethurst

Matt Smethurst is managing editor of the Gospel Coalition. He has served as both a deacon and an elder at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and is now in the process of planting a church in Richmond, Virginia.

Product Details

Category: Church Ministry
Format: Printed Caseside
Page Count: 176
Size: 5.0 in x 7.0 in
Weight: 8.32 ounces
ISBN-10: 1-4335-7162-5
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-7162-6
ISBN-UPC: 9781433571626
Case Quantity: 10
Published: April 13, 2021

Table of Contents

Series Preface
Introduction: "At Your Service"

Chapter 1: The Backstory and the Blunders: How Deacons Have Functioned
Chapter 2: The Blueprint: Where Deacons Began
Chapter 3: The Baselines: What Deacons Must Be
Chapter 4: The Breakdown: What Deacons Must Do
Chapter 5: The Benefits: What Deacons Provide
Chapter 6: The Beauty: Who Deacons Reflect

Conclusion: Deacons Are Difference-Makers
Appendix 1: May Women Serve as Deacons?
Appendix 2: Sample Questions for Deacon Candidates
General Index
Scripture Index


“If I could go back and pick one book to prepare for the onslaught of ministerial challenges our church has faced this year, it would be this one. Weary pastors, discouraged deacons, and churches struggling to stay on mission, get this book! It hits all the right notes.”
Bobby Scott, Copastor, Community of Faith Bible Church, South Gate, California

“The church has long needed this decidedly biblical, highly readable, and very practical book. Grounding the diaconate in the person and work of Jesus, Matt Smethurst answers the multitude of contemporary questions with judiciousness and care, drawing upon his deep knowledge of Scripture, history, and church life. Deacons should long remain the standard text in both the local church and the academy.”
Malcolm B. Yarnell III, Research Professor of Theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Teaching Pastor, Lakeside Baptist Church, Granbury, Texas

“My deepest concern in books on church polity is that the author would make his case based on solid Bible exposition, not denominational tradition or personal opinion. Smethurst has done this well: he has expounded the relevant texts on this widely misunderstood church office. With clear structure and striking insight, he recaptures the Bible’s intention for deacons.”
Alexander Strauch, author, Biblical Eldership and Paul’s Vision for the Deacons

“There have been many helpful books on almost every area of church life, ministry, and polity. The one missing area has been a full-length book addressing deacons. This book fills that gap. Smethurst doesn’t just explain the biblical teaching; he fleshes it out with numerous practical examples and illustrations.”
John S. Hammett, Professor of Systematic Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches

“A wonderful resource on a neglected subject. It is biblical, accessible, and practical—ideal for those in the process of serving as a deacon. Indeed, deacons who assist the elders, organize service, care for the needy, preserve unity, and mobilize ministry are wonderful gifts to Christ’s body. Smethurst explains and applies these ideas clearly, concisely, and compellingly.”
Tony Merida, Lead Pastor, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh, North Carolina; author, Ordinary

“The church needs gospel-centered, theologically minded, servant-hearted deacons who care for others out of a deep love for Jesus. Smethurst offers historical context, biblical insight, and practical examples of this vital role in congregational life.”
Melissa B. Kruger, Director of Women’s Initiatives, The Gospel Coalition; author, Growing Together

“Considerable confusion surrounds diaconal ministry. Faithful deacons, Smethurst reminds us, protect the ministry of the Word, promote the unity of the body, and provide for the tangible needs of our most vulnerable members. I plan to buy multiple copies, regularly give them out to our congregation, and use the book to equip new deacons and encourage current ones.”
Juan R. Sanchez, Senior Pastor, High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin, Texas; author, The Leadership Formula

“This book is accessible, engaging, and substantial. Both nonspecialists and readers with theological training will learn from its biblical, historical, and practical reflections on the diaconate, even where they may disagree with some of its conclusions. All readers should emerge from this book with zeal and appreciation for Christ’s great gift of diaconal ministry.”
Guy Prentiss Waters, James M. Baird Jr. Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

“In some churches the office of deacon is underrated; members don’t profit from deacons as they ought. In other churches the office is overrated; deacons want to function like and challenge the elders. Smethurst shows us the balanced and biblical view.”
Conrad Mbewe, Pastor, Kabwata Baptist Church, Lusaka, Zambia

“Matt Smethurst serves churches well with this succinct treatment of deacons that is biblically faithful, pastorally relevant, and exceptionally clear. Even if you disagree with him (and you probably shouldn’t), you will appreciate the tone in which he describes and defends the vital ministry of deacons. The feeling you get after reading this book is like being in a crowded theater that erupts with applause after a memorable movie.”
Benjamin L. Merkle, Professor of New Testament and Greek, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, 40 Questions about Elders and Deacons

“Matt Smethurst showcases how essential deacons are to gospel ministry, even while debunking misconceptions and unhelpful traditions. Practical, beautifully written, and full of encouraging stories, this is a helpful guide to an essential office.”
Jenny Manley, pastor’s wife, United Arab Emirates; author, The Good Portion: Christ

“Smethurst’s concise manifesto and practical manual succeeds in highlighting the glory of the office of deacon. This is not a dry, theoretical treatise but a clear and cogent call to recognize God’s irreplaceable gift of the diaconal ministry.”
Cornelis Van Dam, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament, Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary; author, The Deacon

“Matt Smethurst addresses a much neglected but vital part of church life. Deacons will encourage leaders and church members alike. It is full of biblical insight and inspiration. I can’t recommend it too highly.”
Sam Allberry, pastor; author, 7 Myths about Singleness

“There is no greater joy in life than serving the Lord. What a unique calling it is to serve as a deacon. Smethurst will lead you in a process of loving God’s highest calling: to be a servant. This book will help many!”
Johnny Hunt, Former President, Southern Baptist Convention; author, The Deacon I Want to Be

“Deacons have been the object of jokes for years—or worse, ignored. I love how Smethurst creatively fleshes out both the historical and biblical context of this important ministry—then presses into practical application. Use this crucial book to embrace and equip those called by God to serve as deacons.”
Mark Dance, Former Executive Editor, Deacon Magazine

“It is uncommon to find great, biblical, clear, and insightful content packaged in a small book. This is one of those occurrences. Today’s church needs this teaching urgently.”
Miguel Núñez, Senior Pastor, International Baptist Church of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

“Dear reader, this is an excellent book! It is more interesting and important than you probably assume. You think I just have to say this because this is a blurb? Take a moment, open to chapter 1, and read the first page—just the first page!—then come back to this blurb. There are lots of other pages that good! You should buy the book now and read it. Go on and get some more copies, and get people studying it at your church. They will be encouraged and your church will be helped to flourish!”
Mark Dever, Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC