So, I find myself wondering: Am I am itinerant deacon in some strange sense?
What I mean is that nearly a decade ago now, I was ordained a deacon by my father-in-law, who at the time was also my pastor. The church was small. Very small. Which I actually think was a plus, as we could have discussions and Bible teaching/debate as often as sermons—and sometimes both in the same hour to hour-and-a-half sermon.
So, I didn’t have a lot of duties, really. It wasn’t like doing the Lord’s Supper (communion) was all that taxing, even though I had to serve the entire congregation myself. I said it was small, right? I didn’t have a lot of greeting to do at the door. But I helped. And when I wasn’t helping during services, I was a sounding board for my father-in-law, and I did other support duties for him, like trying to set up a rudimentary online ministry, editing religious writings he was doing, and things like that. Even after I moved hundred upon hundreds of miles away to relocate in New England, I have done things like transcribe tapes of a book he was writing about the role and nature of Satan.
Since coming out here more than seven years ago, I haven’t really served much as a deacon. Part of that has been the lack of a church home for much of that time. We would find a church to attend, and find it reasonably tolerable or even promising, and then after some weeks or months, we would find some fatal flaw in regard to staying there (crazy heretical things cropping up, people treating our multicultural family with the cold shoulder, sexism or homophobia, etc.). Wisely, I haven’t made a point of mentioning my deacon work in the past when I have entered a church, not wanting to be put to work and getting sucked in when I’m not even sure it’s a church I want to join.
At one church, I did make my deacon past known, and it was a small church of size similar to my father-in-law’s, and I helped with communion there a couple times and some other stuff, but then the pastor started getting a prophet complex, started preaching a lot of prosperity/name-it-and-claim-it stuff, and started preaching about how if you weren’t speaking in tongues, you weren’t born again. I clammed up about being a former deacon at the next several churches we tried after that.
For almost a year now, we’ve been members of a church. It’s a fairly big church (for this area, that is), and it’s involved in the community a lot and people are pretty nice. The sermons can be a bit light sometimes, but the liberal bent is more in line with the views of myself and my wife, since the more conservative churches seem to like to campaign against legalizing same sex marriage, stomping on women’s right, and wonderful things like that. I’d rather have a church that errs on the side of equality and human rights and kindness, rather than one that preaches nasty attitudes.
The pastor hasn’t really called on me to serve, and it doesn’t look like there’s much need for me anyway.
So, what is my role? Am I really a deacon?
I like to think that I am, and that is where the whole itinerant deacon concept cropped up in my mind. Itinerant preachers are those who travel, and don’t really set up shop in a particular town or church. I think that’s what I am, because of the Internet presence I’ve created for myself. I talk about spiritual and religious matters (among other things), and having a blog that can be read by anyone in the world, I “travel” in a way. But am I serving as a deacon? I think so. I am lifting up Jesus and serving church needs, in the global sense of the church of Christ. I sometimes find inspiration in posts from sermons that my current pastor gives, and so at times I am helping him get his words out there, however indirectly.
So, I am a helper, and a representative. I guide people where I can to examine scripture and to look for answers and spiritual growth, and those seems to me to be very deacon-like things.
So, I’m ordained, but not called to a specific place. I am no Bible scholar, but I believe I have deep enough spiritual discernment to be of help in presenting Christianity, the Bible and Christ in a good light.
I am, in the end, a servant. Albeit a servant who sometimes cusses and sometimes is irreverent. But you know, Jesus had a sense of humor and sometimes a short temper, too. So I’m in good company there.
And so, for now, I remain your humble itinerant deacon.