Unemployment! Can deacons help? In this economy, and in many communities, our churches come in contact with job seekers. What can deacons do?
Mark Stephanson has posted a very helpful blog on how deacons can help job seekers with disabilities. But I think his blog has broader implications for deacons!
First, as Mark suggests, the situation offers an opportunity to build a relationship - showing interest, concern, caring, is step one. Get to know people not as problems to be solved, but as fellow image bearers who share the brokenness of our world and also the wonderful gifts God has given.
Mark points out another helpful practice that is helpful for all deacons who come up against the unemployment problem in their congregation or their community. Convening conversations with resource people is a fine deaconal practice that applies more broadly. This helps to build a network of contacts and resources that deacons can use to get their work done. Personal relationships with community resource people can be cultivated through this practice.
Not all the deacons need to be in all the conversations. So sharing information among deacons is another vital practice. This could be as simple as a list of agencies and phone numbers, but it becomes a treasure trove when links are made with individuals, trust and respect is built, and the church becomes a valued partner with prospective employers, job seekers, and community service agencies.
The church is not an employment agency, but deacons can be a powerful resource to support discouraged job seekers. As Mark points out, that's pretty consistent with the ministry to which Christ calls us!
Deacons shine when they are well resourced and well connected.