Resource

Knowing the correct way to act or speak in unique situations will be a great help in your ministry. Here are tips for coming alongside someone who is "differently-abled", uses a wheelchair, is blind, or is deaf. 

August 17, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

Most of us have never experienced the trauma of losing a child. And while we may not be able to show empathy towards someone who has lost a child, we can express sympathy.

August 10, 2016 3 1 comments
Q&A

The congregation where I presently serve as an interim pastor would like to create a congregational resource database. What's been your experience? What rules need to be put in place?

July 25, 2016 0 2 comments
Blog

Many people fear that they cannot count on others for help anymore. As Christians, we are called to respond to those in distress, following the example of our master teacher. So how are we doing? 

June 15, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Story or Testimony

I was reading a Worship article in the Calvary CRC newsletter (Edina, MN) when the following headline caught my eye: Blessings in Service: Elder and Deacon Stories. 

May 12, 2016 1 0 comments
Blog

We are the dynamic energy of the people of God. Welcome the lonely, encourage those who are down, befriend the friendless. This is how the church works.

April 27, 2016 1 0 comments
Blog

We are always preparing for this mission of demonstrating biblical love to others—not as an “evangelism program,” but as a natural display of Christ’s love to others.

April 13, 2016 1 0 comments
Resource, Presentation

Here's a PowerPoint presentation about the changes in church order made by Synod 2015. It explores how these changes can enhance the role of deacons at all levels of the church - local, regional, and beyond.

March 23, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Presentation

In January 2016, the leadership of the CRCNA posted an announcement to all the CRC churches in the US. The announcement drew attention to the changes Synod 2015 made in the Church Order.

February 26, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Workshop or Training, Facilitated by Others

Faith & Finances training equips church leaders with a practical next step for people seeking assistance from their benevolence ministries.

February 13, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Here are two articles that I especially appreciated and think that all CRC deacons would benefit from reading.

February 4, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

When I first served as a deacon, a book that encouraged my growth was the CRC's Deacons and Evangelism. This book made me realize that mercy and sharing the gospel are inseparable. 

January 19, 2016 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

Has your church has found any creative or practical ways to minister and show love to those who are homebound during the winter?

January 18, 2016 2 1 comments
Q&A

At our elders meeting we were discussing the need to provide leadership training for potential elders or deacons that haven't yet felt qualified or inspired to serve. Do materials exist?

December 28, 2015 0 17 comments
Q&A

It's Ministry Question Monday and today's featured question is: "How does your church transition new deacons into their role?"

December 14, 2015 0 3 comments
Blog

I’ve heard people say: “I thought the church was supposed to help people”— meaning “You have to give me what I want.” What we must do is avoid developing a relationship of dependency.

November 20, 2015 1 0 comments
Blog

Mercy practiced for inferior reasons can be damaging, short lived, or even cruel. Paul proposed that mercy be practiced with cheerfulness. Cheer cannot really be faked.

November 12, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

At my church, we developed a brochure listing the best public and private social services in our area. What social services have you (or your church) found helpful?

November 6, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

The apostle Paul commands that we use our gifts for the benefit of others and God’s honor and glory—because the gifts are HIS and on loan to us. 

October 28, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

In order to show we care, we need to be available to others and we need to take time to listen to what is occurring in the lives of those we seek to serve. 

October 16, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

We need to shift from viewing diaconal ministry primarily as something done “to” or “for” others to more of one which does ministry “with” our neighbors, communities, businesses, and churches. 

October 15, 2015 1 0 comments
Blog

John Calvin intentionally partnered love of God with love of neighbor. How do Deacons, as catalysts, share the blessing of serving with church members?

October 8, 2015 1 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

For those near Dallas/Fort Worth, the PCA Mercy Ministry conference is just a few weeks away. Come if you're excited about mercy & justice. I would love to see you there! 

October 5, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

Just as deacons facilitate the financial offerings of God’s people, they must also collect data on the talents of God’s people. Which member is a hairdresser or a handyman? Can they help?

September 29, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

It is not the deacons’ task to be “lone rangers.” In Acts 6, “the Seven” (deacon prototypes) had to have wisdom and the Holy Spirit to manage their new ministry. They needed help, as do we... 

September 14, 2015 1 1 comments

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Thank you so much for this. I have some dear friends who have recently faced this trauma and I find these ideas to be wise and practical. I especially like how you end: "Remember, the goal of the bereavement process is not to leave grief behind. The lost loved one will never disappear. The goal of the journey is allow the parents to become functional grievers."

Thank you, Andrea.  This is helpful.

Hi Clayton,

The Deacons of our church have put together a "Lend-a-Hand" survey for us.  From the responses they received they have a list of people they can call on when there is a specific need.  It looks like this:

 

Romans 12:13 — “Share with God’s people who are in need.”

Dear church family,

The joy of being a part of God's family is being able to be God's hands and feet. As deacons, one of our duties is to encourage all members of our church to be a part of this wonderful work.  

The deacons would like to put together a Lend-a-Hand list so that we can be efficient and organized with connecting those who need help with those who can lend-a-hand

What are your skills? What are you willing or able to help with when there is a need in our community or within our church family?

We want to encourage everyone to take part when there is a need, and with this information we will be able to ask you to help in areas which suit the talents and skills God has blessed you with.

Please fill out your name below and tell us the areas where you could help.  The deacons will maintain the list and contact you when there is a need that matches your skills and see if you are available to Lend-a-Hand.  If you have additional skills which are not listed here please feel free to add them.  Please also indicate if you prefer to be contacted via email, phone or text.   This form will also be sent by email as a survey, we encourage you to use that method and to include your whole family in your response.

 

Name: ___________________________

 

Please check ☑ the appropriate boxes:⠀

CHURCH FAMILY OPPORTUNITIES

  • Babysitting
  • Cooking meals
  • Driving (lifts)
  • Handy man
  • Helping move
  • Other: _______________  ______________ 

COMMUNITY OPPORTUNITIES

  • Food Cupboard
  • Soup Kitchen Volunteer
  • Other: _________________

Communication Method

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Text

 

May God bless you all for the generosity and love that you show when you give through your time and talents.

From your Deacons

 

 

 

 

Speaking of 'The Elders Handbook', starting today if you attend a CRC you can now read it - and hundreds of other Faith Alive titles - for free in the new CRC Digital Library.

Here's the direct link to the Elder's Handbook page: library.crcna.org/resource/elders-handbook

...and you can learn more about the Digital Library at this short link: crcna.org/Library

There's also a Deacon's Handbook, a Church Staff Handbook, and hundreds of other titles. Spread the word about this new library, made possible by Ministry Shares.

Thanks for the thought about the recorded webinars.  I've helped with orientation for elders for decades now... starting in years when I could not be an elder myself.  Now I'm looking for ideas to help a younger generation consider the role and and responsibilities... 

The materials we have seem to present the role of elder as a pastor sees that role, rather than as elders actually experience it.  I'm particularly interested in how good training for council members could help create an environment in which Pastor/Council tensions are resolved without major trauma.  We are in conversation with the Pastor/Church relations folks, too.

I've used "The Elders Handbook" in other years, but it felt like it best served the people who had already served as an elder for a year or more -- which in some years includes all the new elders, so that was good.  

Hi Virginia: 

The Office of Pastor Church Relations would have helpful resources (pastorchurch@crcna.org) or you could check out my book "The Elders Handbook" (available to order here through Faith Alive). 

Louis 

Hi Virginia--I'd recommend Lester Dekoster's Handbook for Elders

Shepherd Leaders by Tim Witmer is also good, as is Philip Keller's A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

Hi Virginia! Did you check out the recorded webinars for new and/or experienced elders? In addition, the general Elders section is a great starting point. If you are looking for a specific resource or advice, you can always post your question to the Network community. Thanks for sharing!

 

 

The comments below suggest that there is a wealth of good training material available for deacons -- but it looks thin when it comes to elders.  Do people have any good resources to suggest for training elders?

 

Yes, I have been familiar with VIS for a long time and would heartily recommend their expertise.  I also would recommend Volunteers In Action in Denver, CO (another ministry established by CRC members).  www.volunteersinaction.info  

 Unfortunately, the ministry I was part of for 10 years called Christian Service Ministries in Classis Chicago South recently disbanded.  

 

 

Harvey,

Have you checked the resources at Faith Alive? 

Give them a call or order online - it's possible that they only take online orders. Also, you may call the classis Pastor for help with resources, or a church visitor - who is usually a pastor in your classis. 

http://www.faithaliveresources.org/AdvancedSearch/Default.aspx?SearchTer...

Grace, Daniel 

In our area, West Michigan, we use the help of VIS Volunteers in Service, an organization established by CRC members to help and support deacons in their work. 

VIS is helping CRC churches, and many benefit from their training, but now they're growing and helping all other churches that need help or support for the deacons. 

Try calling them, here is their website, http://www.visgr.org - you can ask for Bernita if you need a name. 

Grace, Daniel 

I highly recommend doing a search right here on The Network section for Deacons on the subject. There have been a relatively large number of posts, at least one webinar and resources--including the Diakonia Remixed report to Synod 2013 and the report to Synod 2016 from the Task Force to Study the Office of Elder and Deacon--that I have used and made available to deacons and diaconates from churches in our classis. 

Classis Holland recently spent an evening with Steve Timmermans (CRCNA Executive Director) and Andy Ryskamp (recently retired Director of World Renew U.S. to learn a bit more about where we are heading and how we hope to get there. There was a recent post on the website of the Holland Deacons' Conference that provided some of the information they shared that evening. Here's the link to that post: https://hdccrc.org/whats-ahead-for-crc-deacons/

 

A lot of good resources and suggestions have already been shared here. The Network site for deacons itself contains a wealth of information, ideas and resources. Simply type in what you're looking for in the search box on the upper right corner of this page, check the "This Section" button and click the search magnifying glass icon. 

In addition to what has been mentioned thus far, I would be remiss if I didn't also mention the Holland Deacons' Conference (aka HDC) . . . the diaconal ministry of the churches and communities of Classis Holland. We too have a website (hdccrc.org) that provides resources and support for deacons including regular blog posts providing timely and relevant information and news that is diaconal in nature.as well as a page dedicated to Deacon Resources.

Finally, HDC is available to meet with local diaconates for consultation, planning assistance, training on a variety of diaconal topics such as Community Asset Mapping, Effective Benevolence Practices, Deacon Orientation, and more. 

 

In addition to my book, Not Just a Soup Kitchen: How Mercy Ministry in the Local Church Transforms Us All, I have a video on The Role of the Deacon  which is broken up into small sections. Go to https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdVuoO90C3zc_Tn3ZUWCZSn50jgUPusVa

I think one thing those of us who are wealthier are called to consider is not using our wealth to travel somewhere warm.  I think this needs discussing in our broader church: the use of our wealth, the call to community, to be present, to care for those who don't have that kind of wealth.

Wow.  Thanks, David!  This sparks my thinking about the role of deacons at classis and synod.  How can the deacons help us as assemblies and as a denomination, to infuse this servant-hood into our life together in our neighborhoods, cities, towns, and nations?  If ever our world needed to experience fearless incarnational service, it's now.   

     Back in the day, we all were aware of the phenomenon of "changing neighborhoods".   People left, churches left, and then those who came next experienced the irreversible decline of the systems and networks that are the vessels and sinews of healthy community.  It was an incredibly complicated tangle  of social, economic, religious dynamics, and the church basically walked away.... or in some cases ran. I think we thought we could give up on some of the square inches over which Jesus is Lord.

 It feels like the cities of the nations are experiencing something like that today.  Societies are at risk of being overwhelmed by the needs of people pressing to be allowed in.  Systems can't cope.  Cultures can't assimilate that fast.  Those with resources leave the turmoil  and walk away.  And we all watch as things unravel.  Some of us try to help.  Unless the Spirit of Jesus the Servant pervades the global church, the Church may again find itself out in suburbia, where things may feel a little better.... for a while.  What does radical servant-hood mean for the Church today?  

If the Church in North America is in fact being challenged by the secularizing of our society as never before, surely we are also being challenged to renewed commitment by the global themes of war, ecological decline, prejudice, and homelessness on a scale we couldn't have imagined.  We simply cannot respond only as individuals or congregations. We are called to be many members unified in large scale responses, so that systems and cities, populations and nations, may turn toward justice and mercy.  That means that we'll have to discern as assemblies, as a denomination among sister denominations, what needs to be done.  By us.  And then we'll have to follow the Spirit to think bigger, speak wiser, and work humbler, and get more done.

David, you have been at this for a lifetime.  Thank you.  And may God continue to use you.

 

ServiceLink's website has a section under the Engage menu with 'Helpful Information and Job Descriptions for Elders and Deacons'

Direct links to the webinars for new elders and deacons can also be found on the same page.

 

Other resources should include Tim Keller's Ministries of Mercy and Resources for Deacons, Randy Nabors' Merciful, Chris Sicks' Tangible, and my Not Just a Soup Kitchen: How Mercy Ministry Transforms Us All. The latter includes excerpts from a CRC out of print resource Servant Leaders.

Try Diaconal Ministries in Burlington.

Volunteers In Service coaches and trains deacons. They facilitate a deacon orientation training annually in August and has had very positive feedback on that training. VIS also is taking a more active role in facilitating council retreats. VIS staff meets with deacons to actively listen to what deacons are facing in today's world and responds in helpful and supportive ways. VIS works with deacons from the CRC church as well as other denominations. On the VIS website are blog positing on topics requested by deacons. For more information check the VIS website at www.visgr.org or email Bernita Tuinenga at btuinenga@visgr.org  We welcome the opportunity to hear from you!

Good suggestions here!  I'd like to add The Deacons' Handbook, by Lori Wiersma and Connie Kuiper VanDyke, available from Faith Alive.

There are several webinar recordings designed to help get deacons get off to a good start that are posted here on The Network. You'll also find a variety of recorded webinars suitable for new and/or experienced elders. Several of the recordings include slide handouts and/or additional helps for training purposes.

Diaconal Ministries Canada has many helpful resources for deacons. Check out their website at http://diaconalministries.com/.

I also recommend the following books for training deacons:

  • When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. Online video lessons to accompany the book are available at https://www.chalmers.org/the-small-group-experience.
  • Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
  • Live Just.ly from the Micah Challenge. World Renew's version of this book is available from Faith Alive Resources.

Carol,

At the CRCNA we've facilitated many webinars on topics that are suitable for new and/or experienced elders. In some cases, these are presentations that have been used for the purposes of giving elders their training and/or orientation at various churches. You can see the full list of recordings here http://network.crcna.org/topics/type/resource/type/webinar-recording/topic/elders

Hi Staci - thanks for posting this question again. I would also be interested to know what kind of training is provided for elders as this is a topic of interest for many churches.

Great post, David! How often I am scared to step into a leadership position out of a fear of being the 'lone ranger'. Great reminder that even the earliest disciples needed to be equipped by the Holy Spirit to train other disciples. Thanks for sharing!

Praise God!  It will take some adjusting, patience and grace, but this is a historic decision.  

What other Church Order changes do you forsee being needed if Synod permits deacons be seated at classical and synodical meetings? The task force already has proposed a significant number of related Church Order changes, but those changes don't directly depend on the changes to Articles 40 and 45.

Thanks for sharing this with our readers Bernita! I especially appreciate that you acknowledge that we are all equally broken and need to extend Christ's mercy to others just as Christ has shown and continues to show us mercy. I believe that this is an important perspective and posture that can help keep us from seeing and treating "those in need" as less than or more broken and in greater need than ourselves. 

posted in: Grace or Disgrace

The question is how to get deacons involved in Classis and Synod? Would a stipend for those losing wages be an effective measure? Some Classes have stipends for elders to attend Synod. Perhaps that is a route to explore...

Thanks, Terry for your remarks. I wonder what the participation rate of deacons is at Classis Atlantic Northeast? I left CANE in 2008 and at the time, deacons delegated to Classis was relatively new, but participation/attendance at Classis was not a very high percentage. Has that changed considerably over time? I believe Classes that allow women deacons will likely have a higher percentage of attendance than Classes that have not yet approved that measure.

 

Who cares if the deacon can or cant speak at Classis, or synod, or who has what role if the work of the church of either office is not being done effectively.  We have much to say and are amazingly articulate in our own assemblies but are mute in practical matters in our congregations and especially in our communities.  We have the cart before the horse.  Let's go for what's working and rewrite our playbook.  

I think that looked at from a historical perspective, the office of deacon is incredibly flexible and has manifested itself in many different forms.  Your note about nominating people according to skill sets brings up an interesting historical note, Harry.  In Geneva the deacons were divided up into procurators, what we would call administrative deacons, and hospitalars, who had the care of the poor and sometimes lived among them.  Calvin defended this distinction exegetically.  Maybe in our new setup it will make sense to make use of it again.  

Terry,

Thanks for "jumping in" to share your perspectives and thoughts as someone who has been intimately involved in this process for several years now. I am grateful for interest and responses that Norman's post has generated thus far. I encourage those who are following this conversation to share their thoughts on the post itself or in response to any of the comments made thus far. 

I appreciate Norman and Terry's comments. The church made an interesting change when it broadened the skill sets for the ED of the Denomination. Now when you look at the skill sets of those who are nominated to the BOT and the Boards of the various ministries, the "quota's"  for Ministers and Lay people come into play.The "Lay" people for that do not have to be Elders or Deacons but certainly can be. Looking at skill sets has became a factor on one of the Boards I served on and that is good.

If that review of skill sets could be applied to those selected to go to Synod, the distinction between Elders and Deacons could largely fall away. Now of course you need a skill set evaluation at the congregational level if you want to be consistent. But here is where the problem comes in. Pastors on the payroll can always (I hope) get time off for Synod/ Classis. But for lay people this is more problematic. Not only they have to devote time to local work in the role of Elder or Deacon but they can also be delegated to Classis and Synod.

Despite all of the new technology, and how it was supposed to help us, it has probably done the opposite. It is harder than ever to "get away" from the job. In our church polity we have to rely on the wisdom of church Councils and Classis to select the most capable (and I hope with appropriate skill sets) people as delegates to the Ministry Boards and to Synod.

I will make (repeat) another bold suggestion. Could the church not take Calvin College out of its governance structure and also find a totally new way to govern World Renew (e.g. give that role to the Deacons)?

I'll try to address your various points from my perspective as a deacon, a deacon who recently attended a classis meeting (and spoke at the meeting), and a member of both task forces that wrote the subject reports.

Your opening and concluding observation about not being sure about ever hearing a deacon speak at classis might be more indicative of the agenda and culture atmosphere of what classis meetings are like to deacons. Have the deacons been encouraged and mentored by pastors and elders to actively participate in the meetings and committees? Are the topics and discussions relevant to deacons? Do the deacons have a voice in shaping the meeting agenda? In my experience, certain pastors/elders may dominate the discussions. At the last meeting of Classis Atlantic Northeast, the delegates broke into small groups of four to pray for one another and also discuss a topic. Deacons participated equally with the elders and pastors in these small groups. This is one small example of how deacons can be encouraged to have a voice at a classis meeting. I've been told that almost every deacon from one of the churches who has attended a classis meeting in recent years has returned with renewed energy and excitement about ministry.

A couple points regarding the church order changes:

  1. The proposed changes are the result of four years of work over two task forces. The churches have had ample opportunity to comment on the changes and suggest revisions. (One specific revision suggested via overture in 2013 has been incorporated into the 2015 report.) I am sure that future synods will have additional changes based on experience working with these proposed changes.
  2. I hope that at this synod an advisory committee is assigned the sole task of working on this report. The advisory committee in 2013 was assigned additional work that didn't allow it to fully focus on the report it was given.
  3. Changes viewed individually rather than in the context of all the other changes may be questioned, but we looked at every church order article with a big picture view of the offices to ensure that the articles communicated the vision of the offices of elder and deacon that we, and hopefully the church, wants to see.
  4. We have no expectation that these church order changes, in themselves, will be the primary means of revitalization of the offices of deacon and elder. That's why there are other recommendations in the report that are just as important as the church order changes. In my opinion, this report should be viewed as the beginning of a journey of revitalization and not the final word on what needs to be done.

Finally, addressing your concern about imposing a model on the entire denomination, well, isn't that what being a denomination with a church order is all about? Isn't requiring elders and pastors to be delegated to classis meetings already an imposed model? I encourage classes to be creative and share their experiences with incorporating deacons into the structure of classis.

If, as some suggest, the roles and responsibilities of the offices reflect or are intended to reflect and perform the functions of Christ as prophet (pastor), priest (deacon) and king (elder), what does it say about our denomination's view of the role and responsibilities of the deacon (priest) when we don't include them and give them a voice and vote at synod?

 

Norman, I full support the full inclusion of deacons at all assemblies.  We work together in God's kingdom and we need to share information, encourage one another, and partner together.  So, we need every opportunity to be in the same room together.  I understand your uncertainty, and we'll have a big learning curve.  I'm hoping that the changes we have to go through will leave lots of room for evaluation and flexibility so we can make accommodations.

Norman, I did find your reference to deacons not participating at classis meetings quite disturbing, and I shared that with you privately.  No elder, minister or deacon can be evaluated by the number of words that are being said at a classis meeting.  I might even suggest to you that some people (ministers in particular) probably say too many words at Classis and do not add a whole lot of value to the meeting.

I have been very blessed being in the presence of all God's servants.

Diane Plug

John Klein-Geltink, a deacon from Classis Chatham, emailed his response to this post and asked me to share it here--for some reason he was unable to post it directly.

Hello Jack
When I read the report I was rather put off as are other deacons.For the past 13 years a number of deacons of Classis Chatham have served on the Classis Chatham Ministry Committee and attended Classis meetings and voted on all matters. We even asked to set time at classis to have churches share Diaconial ministry at local communities,which did happen at our last May meeting.Deacons also designed questions to be discussed at Church visits about the nature of diaconial work in their commuttees.So I am not sure what Norman is talking about.
 

To those who might have missed it, there is a post on The Network's site for Deacons entitled, "What's Up With Deacons Going To Synod?." The post itself is a letter written to CRC Deacons by The Task Force to Study the Offices of Elder and Deacon. Given the interest sparked by this particular post, I think anyone wanting to better understand this issue might find it helpful. You can get directly to the post by going here. You might also be interested in reading a letter written in 1939 by a deacon that addresses the matter of deacon inclusion/representation also posted on the page for deacons here.

 

Jeff,

I think you--and others--might appreciate and benefit by reading a letter written in 1939 by deacon Hendrik Schoonekamp about the need for and importance of deacon inclusion and representation. You can read it on The Network's page for Deacons here.

While I support the idea of including deacons at Classis meetings, I wonder about the participation. It is hard to find deacons that are able/willing to take a day off of work for a Classis meeting. I often wonder about the possibility of deacons having their own meetings and reporting to Classis. A number of years ago I was in another Classis that made the change to include deacons. The attendance of deacons was minimal at best. We need full participation of deacons to make it work well.

True, deacons have their hands full at the local church level.  This has sometimes been used as an argument for not delegating them to the broader assemblies.

But couldn't the same thing be said of pastors?  Of elders?  Yet there is no talk of them staying home.

Ultimately, doesn't it all go back to fully reflecting the work of the risen and ruling Christ, though the offices, at all levels of assembly and decision making?  It will be interesting to see what might take place when this becomes a reality.

 

 

Here is the summary of the Synod's Agenda. Look how neatly all the ministries of the CRC HO Departments & Ministries have been pigeonholed into the five streams. The CRC Extension Fund in Canada, which is 3 times large than the US (Loan Fund) one, is not even mentioned anywhere.

Faith Formation
Calvin College
Discipleship and Faith Formation Ministries
Servant Leadership
Chaplaincy and Care Ministry
Christian Reformed Church Loan Fund, Inc., U.S.
Pastor-Church Relations 
Pensions and Insurance
Safe Church Ministry
Global Missions
Christian Reformed Home Missions
Christian Reformed World Missions
Loving Mercy and Doing Justice
Committee for Contact with the Government
Disability Concerns
Race Relations
Social Justice and Hunger Action
Urban Aboriginal Ministries
World Renew
Gospel Proclamation and Worship
Back to God Ministries International
Calvin Theological Seminary 
Worship Ministries

The order is very telling. Gospel proclamation is last. With a 557 page Agenda it will be an interesting Synod. Why Deacons would even want to participate is a question for me. They have their hands full at the local church level.

I for one am excited to see what the changes might bring. I have been at classis meetings where elders barely spoke a word. According to this line of reasoning, perhaps we shouldn't delegate them to classis, either.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments for us to consider as we look ahead to Synod 2015. I share your concern about the possibility--perhaps even likelihood--that the delegates to Synod 2015 could get "bogged down" with all the recommended changes to the articles of church order. You raise some important questions and I would like to hear what others are thinking about it as well.

For anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of and appreciation for compassion, I strongly recommend: Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life.  One of the many things I learned from reading this book was that compassion is much more about taking action than it is about a feeling or emotion. Although I read this book in the early 1980s, it helped shape my thinking about my relationship with and view of those who suffer. Today, when I hear someone mention the problem of "compassion fatigue," I am grateful that I have God who never tires of having and showing compassion to someone like me on a daily basis.

posted in: Compassion

Thanks for sharing this letter. The corporate church has always recognized the work of Deacons. The local church, and I am willing to venture in 100% of the CRCNA congregations, are in someway engaged.  World Renew is the CRCNA's  diaconate.  The work they do and the support from the community and governments is significant.   This is one of the areas of the church that does NOT need fixing. Including Deacons as official delegates to synod and add that to the complexity of that oversight body is not needed.

The funds to run World Renew, or for that matter the Diaconates of local churches, are not an issue. Deacons also have regional Diaconal Ministries which work well.

Thanks to Mr. Schoonekamp and the Deacons that have gone before him, after him and are now serving, have done an excellent job in proclaiming the message of Jesus in the work they do both locally and via World Renew (and many other organizations). 

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I too have discovered that many of those on the margins often have a faith in and relationship with God that is not only present but often more vital and real than my own. These experiences challenge my assumptions and remind me that we are all broken and in need of God's shalom . . . it's just that some brokenness is more visible or more difficult to hide.

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Isaac Hoogland
Amanda Bakale
Jack Kooyman
David Apple
Rand Hedman