Calling Out Deacons at Immanuel

The Church Called Immanuel engages in a deliberate and intentional process every August, September, and October to call from among ourselves members to serve the congregation as deacons. This process is Immanuel’s way of nominating and electing deacons, and this process has been our guide since 1995. We do not claim it is a perfect process, but we do believe it assists us as we call out servant leaders. Here, at Immanuel, the authority to call members into service as deacons resides with the congregation and not with some special committee of the church. Engagement in this process of nominating and electing deacons is one of the responsibilities of church membership.

The integrity of this process is dependent upon our commitment to the process outlined in our Constitution and By-laws. The process calls for each member of Immanuel to determine, privately and before God, whether they can serve the Church Called Immanuel at this time in their lives and at this time in the life of Immanuel. As a congregation, we recognize that the servant role of deacon requires deeper levels of commitment to our life together for a period of three years. There are meetings to attend, responsibilities to assume, and roles of servant leadership to fulfill. We, as individual members, must determine if we can fulfill these responsibilities and roles that may require more of us—time, talent, and treasure—in service to Christ and his church. This is the part of the process we were all asked to take seriously in August of each year.

Since Sunday, 3 September 2017, there has been available to the congregation a list of names of members who may be nominated to serve as deacon. On Sunday, 24 September 2017, we will nominate nine members from that list to serve as deacon. The integrity of the process calls for us to prayerfully consider the people we will nominate. The office of deacon is mentioned three times in the New Testament—Philippians 1:1, I Timothy 3:8-13, and Romans 16:1. We should be familiar with these passages as we prepare to nominate servant leaders. Our By-laws state that the members we nominate “shall be committed to Jesus Christ as Lord, possess a giving spirit, open to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and demonstrate gifts for servanthood. They shall be supportive of the ministry of the church through the stewardship of their time, financial resources, talents, and personality.” [Article III, Section II] For the sake of the integrity of the process, “each member is asked to seriously reflect upon the gifts for service evident in individuals they desire to nominate.” The nomination and election of deacons is not a popularity contest. It is a process for identifying and calling out servant leaders.

Here, at Immanuel, deacons are servant leaders. They are not a Board of Directors. They are not responsible for the financial matters of the church or the maintenance of the facility or the supervision of the staff. They are responsible for the spiritual oversight of the congregation and the care of the people who compose our life together. They are called first to serve those most vulnerable among us. Deacons are not called to be Biblical scholars. They are called to hold the faith with a clear conscience and to serve the people of Immanuel in the spirit of Jesus. The office of deacon is not an honorary role. It calls for individuals to descend to the lowest place among us—the place of a servant. A deacon takes seriously the call of Christ to be a servant—to be one who lays aside their self-interests to serve others. A deacon is not an authoritarian leader declaring what the church should do or should not do. A deacon seeks to discern the leadership of the Holy Spirit as the church seeks to fulfill its unique calling to represent Christ in the world.

The deacons of Immanuel have been pursuing this model of servant leadership for over two decades now. The transition to servant leadership is challenging. Servant leaders seek to serve with an awareness of their spiritual gifts. We do not ask every deacon to do the same things. Each deacon, like each member, has been gifted by the Spirit for the common good. In our deacon body, we need a diversity of gifts and perspectives. We do ask each deacon to take risks serving the body of Christ called Immanuel. We do not expect perfection. We do ask for faithfulness to Christ and to the Church Called Immanuel.

On Sunday, we will take the third step in our nomination and election process as we nominate nine members to serve the Church Called Immanuel as deacons. Let us prepare ourselves for this significant responsibility. Let us also prepare ourselves to prayerfully consider fulfilling the role of deacon in the life of Immanuel if we are nominated by the church through the nominating process on Sunday. On Sunday, we engage in this process of calling out deacons. In this process, we may discover that the Spirit has led the church to call us to contemplate becoming a servant leader. The integrity of this process calls for us all to prayerfully consider the members we nominate and to prayerfully reflect on the possibility that we may be called to servant leadership at Immanuel.

The next step in the process will call for those we nominate to declare if they are willing to serve Immanuel at this time in their lives and at this time in our life together. As I said, this is a deliberate and intentional process as we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we call out servant leaders from among ourselves.


Jamie Broome

Jamie Broome began serving Immanuel in 1993. He previously served First Baptist Church in Midway, Kentucky for ten years. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Carson Newman University, where he met his wife, Rita, and his Master of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, where he also did a Th.M. and doctoral work in church history. He is a native of South Carolina, and the Broomes have two sons, Chip and Rusty.