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A strong diaconal assembly goes beyond the scope of "one at a time" mercy and benevolence ministry; together we address root causes and we conspire and act together to change the systems perpetuating poverty in our community.

June 11, 2014 0 2 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

Whether you're a seasoned deacon or someone who's new to church leadership, this handbook will help you perform your duties with efficiency and compassion in a way that shows the love of God to those around you.

June 5, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Proposed Changes for Deacons from The Task Force to Study the Offices of Elder and Deacon

June 2, 2014 0 0 comments
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The Central Union Mission in Washington, DC exemplifies the holistic approach of faith-based organizations to alleviating poverty.
From the Streets to the Pews: A Story of Holistic Healing by Emily Davisson
http://www.capitalcommentary.com/central-union-mission/streets-pews-stor...

May 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

How are or are CRC deacons addressing issues of waste, injustice, and selfishness?

May 13, 2014 0 6 comments
Blog

All three offices share in the great challenge of the church leadership: the equiping of the saints, together, but also each in its own way.

May 13, 2014 1 0 comments
Resource, Lesson or Study

Even if you read last year's Diakonia Remixed Report to Synod 2013, you might have missed this very important study on "diakonia" in Scripture by Dr. Mariano Avila.

May 2, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource

A useful handbook for understanding, developing, and implementing an effective benevolence ministry.

April 24, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Exploring ways and reasons to do diaconal ministry with others in the community.

April 15, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

This post written by Bernita Tuinenga, Co-Executive Director of Volunteers in Service (based in Grand Rapids, MI), explains and addresses the problem of enabling behavior that too often characterizes how we do and understand diaconal ministry.

March 31, 2014 1 0 comments
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How can deacons equip their congregations for diakonia? 

February 25, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Are CRC deacons fulfilling their calling?

February 19, 2014 0 0 comments
Q&A

I would like to offer a roundtable on this topic in the Chicagoland area.  Some churches may have retreats?  Maybe some other ideas about length of time?  Any other ideas welcome!

February 14, 2014 1 2 comments
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How you think about community and why it matters!

February 10, 2014 0 6 comments
Blog

Hello, my name is Jack Kooyman and I am very pleased and grateful for the opportunity to be your new Network Guide for the Deacon's section. I presently serve as the Executive Director for the Holland Deacons' Conference and am a member of First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. 

February 4, 2014 0 0 comments
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As the seasons change so too must guides change. Today I say farewell, but I also say welcome to our new guide... 

January 25, 2014 0 3 comments
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As a church body we are multi-generational, so how do we deal with the lack of "like mindedness" that may come when we are serving on a team spanning generations?

January 21, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog

Several years ago, our church adopted the practice of Faith Promise Giving (FPG).  This change in our approach was initiated in response to annual deficits in our financial year-end. Slowly but steadily, this ‘new’ way of giving has changed our perspective...

January 6, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog

How do we look at tithing missionally? Many times people begin talking about tithing by going to Malachi 3:10 where God tells his people to bring in the whole tithe and he will bless them. Great. Okay. So tithing leads to blessing, right? Yes and no.The purpose of tithing is not to be blessed but to bless...

December 17, 2013 0 0 comments
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Looking for tips on how to do hospital visits well?  Applicable not only to deacons, but also to pastors, elders or anyone who offers compassionate care, this blog post shares some dos and don'ts to help you out! You can also add your own...

December 16, 2013 0 0 comments

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Hi Terry.  Will you be at classis ANEin March?  I must not be clear as to what exactly the article 77 change is meant to accomplish or why it is part of deacons being delegates to synod.  I understand that over the years the denominational ministries have become governed more and more by the BOT and less by snodical delibrations.  I think this is the "governance realities of the denomination" referred to in ground #4 under Article 77 (pg. 29) in the report.  So to paraphrase, "this is what is happening already so let's make it official."  Would that be accurate?  If that is the case, then I still wonder why we shouldn't expand the role synod plays in giving direction to our denominational ministries with diaconal representatives there, rather continuing the trend of lessening it.

To address your third point, the Current Supplement Article 77-a states "Synod regulates the work of the world missions committee by way of the Constitution and decisions of the Board of Trustees of the CRCNA." This governance statement was generalized by moving it into article 77 and applied it to the regulating duties of Synod with respect to all denominational ministries. REVISED Article 77 - "Synod shall regulate the work of denominational ministries by way of the Constitution and decisions of the Board of Trustees of the CRCNA." I don't see how you can interpret this as removal of synodical oversight and encouragement of our denominatoinal agencies. That certainly was not the intent.

Thank you Steve! I've read that book and am glad to hear how your small groups are using it to reach out in your community. Wishing you blessings in that! 

Currently in our Small Groups we are studying Under the Overpass written by Mike Yankoski. as part of the study, each group is encouraged to come up with various service projects in our community. So far, our group has made sandwiches and delivered them to a large group of homeless people. Another group has visited a senior citizen home. Our group has also talked about volunteering at one of the local group homes for people with disabilities.

Ron, I think giving should be voluntary and cheerful regardless, so I doubt I'd be hitting anyone too hard on it.  I kind of agree with you, especially from a deacon's perspective.  It's really the job of deacons to help others, not to grind on them.  But from a personal perspective, if I was a teacher in that perspective, I would find it hard to say that I've given enough simply because of opportunity costs for my employment.   Obviously, if you have no income, you can't give anything, and if you are paid less, you would likely give less.  But it is not too hard to identify an opportunity cost no matter what job or occupation you might have, whether making financial sacrifices to minister to your family, or to provide time for other mission causes.   If you spend two weeks of vacation on a diaconal project and spend your own money to get there and for lodging, would you subtract that time and money from your tithe, for example.     I don't want to make a big deal of this;  just provide another perspective.   

John, there's a great quote "Anyone can write a cheque".  It's the people on the front line of ministry that impress me.  When a teacher works at a Christian school and, by doing so, accepts a salary that is 1/3 less than a public school counterpart, I'm impressed with their gift.  After all, they could work at a public school and simply tithe. When somebody realizes that it's the ministry, not the paycheque, that makes their work precious (whether that's carring for kids or helping in the church, etc.), then I'm impressed and I, as a deacon, wouldn't be hitting on them too hard if they weren't contributing $$ as expected on a "per member" basis.  

There are some great stewardship books out on the market.  I particularly enjoyed the book "Three Simple Rules" by Theo A. Boers which contains the following suggested rules:

1.  Spend less than you earn. 2.  Save now! Buy later. 3.  Know Debt!

I've shared this book with many people and most of us end up wondering why we didn't read it (or truly know its principles) when we were in our twenties.  The rules seem simple but most of us don't really know how much we actually make (what is our net disposable income?) and thus we may be spending more than we earn. When young people figure out that their $12/hour wage nets out at $1.50 per hour (after charity, rent, food, insurance, tax, interest payment on credit card etc.), they may wish to reconsider purchasing the $150 blue jeans (are they really worth 2 1/2 weeks of work?)

Most of us don't really know what our savings are and many of us are relying on anticipated inheritances as part of our retirement plan.

And, most of us don't appreciate how much that debt is really costing us. In Canada, credit card companies must disclose more of the impact.  My last credit card statement indicated that, if all I did was pay the minimum monthly payment, it would take 43 years and 1 month to pay off the $2,300 balance.  We all need to have more lessons on how to KNOW DEBT!  

When I talk with seniors in our community, I often hear about an envelope budget system.  Every month, take your paycheque and divide it amongst several envelopes.  One for church, one for food, one for clothing, one for household repairs/utilities, one for entertainment, etc. .  If an envelope is empty before the end of the month, you'll have to figure out which other envelope to "borrow" from.  Whether these envelopes are actual paper envelopes with cash in them or are columns in an Excel spreadsheet, the system will definitely help you learn how to spend less than you earn.  One senior couple that I know used this system ended up using a mortgage only on their first house, paid Christian school tuition for all their kids (and helped them with college), retired comfortably and supported Kingdom Work throughout that time.  

Ron, some great comments!  However, your comment on someone involved in ministry work perhaps perceiving a 50% contribution since they could make twice as much somewhere else, ought to be taken with a grain of salt.   I know a fellow who could make twice as much money working in the field in the oil patch, but deliberately took a different job because he wanted to be home every night and weekends with his children, since he feels being an available  faither to his children is what God calls him to do.  His ministry to his family is his ministry for God, so to speak.  Should he then regard this lower paying job as a 50% contribution?  Where does this "ministry" contribution begin and where does it end?   A farmer who farms 500 acres less because of the time he needs for council work or christian school board, or the mechanic or carpenter who doesn't work overtime because he works with young people group and the deacon board.   Etc.  ??  

 

For those that think a church budget is a "money-grabber", they should realize that a church budget is not simply another "Ask for Money"; it's an "Opportunity for Ministry" and thus, a means by which we can answer God's call. I would encourage all churches to adopt a narrative budget format so that those opportunities are easier for congregants to understand and support.

"What we receive in life is God's gift to us.  What we do with it is our gift back."

"A tithe is a very good place to start".   But any couple's current life situation will affect their ability to give back to God.  A young couple with 4 kids vs. an "empty-nest" working couple vs. retired seniors...  In some cases, the person's ministry work is the gift to God and that choice of ministry may mean that they are already giving 50% to ministry work (assuming they could make twice the pay in the secular world).

God's ministries should, however, receive "first fruits", not left-overs.  I've actually heard people complain that the increase in a church or school budget will affect their ability to vacation in Hawaii (and I've quietly reminded them that camping at the lake was their parents' idea of a good vacation... while they paid Christian school tuition and supported the church faithfully)

I've read that Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life" has mentioned that, with the financial rewards of his publication success, he and his wife have been able to move to a "reverse tithe".... giving 90% and living quite comfortably on the remaining 10%

I met one person who had what he called a "tithe tax".  He contributed to church budgets as required but, every time he bought something extravagant, he would forward a gift to Kingdom Work equivalent to 10% of that purchase price.  He told me that if I ever saw him in a Ferrari, I'd know that some ministry also received a great gift.

If you do believe in a tithe, a good question is to figure out what percentage that actually is.  For my wife & I (living in Alberta and paying annual income taxes), we receive a 50% tax credit for every dollar we give annually to charity (after we've given at least $200 in the year).  So, at that point, a tithe (for tax-paying Albertans) is 20%.  If our income was $100,000, our tithe would be $20,000 since we'd get a tax credit of nearly $10,000 tax refund.  If we were retired, without taxable income, that tax credit would be useless and our tithe calculation would require adjustment.

 

 

Thanks Karl! So are you one of those volunteers now that you're in retirement? :-)

We have read the report and are getting ourselves ready to discuss this at classis in a couple weeks.  I speak for most people in my church and classis when I say that we endorse sending deacons to participate in the work of synod.  That being said, this task force has included a number changes here that are problematic in my mind and I am surprised others are not discussing this further on the Network.  The report itself states that it "requires a major rethinking of how the CRC does ministry" (pg. 34). 

First, at the heart of church order changes is Article 25.c (pg. 21), the description of deacons' responsibilities.  We (my council and I) regret that the phrases "especially to those who belong to the community of believers" and "assure the unity of word and deed" will be removed.  It seems to me that it would harm the witness of the church greatly if my congregation were doing advocacy work for people we hardly knew while memnbers of our own congregation were nto being helped.  In an age when the church is accused of hypocrisy, it seems to be that deacons play an important role in reminding us to demonstrate our faith with some of our time, talents and treasures.  Furthermore, we think the phrase, "calling the members to be ambassadors of reconciliation in all areas of life" brings more confusion than clarity to the diaconate's work and God's kingdom. 

Second, we would not like to see the imperatives to "bring the gospel" and "lead them [people] into fellowship with Christ and his church" be replaced by the phrase "holistic mission" in Articles 73 and 74 (pgs. 26-27).  While the gospel and fellowship with Chirst should be inherent in this phrase, it has also been used to justify questionable activities in the world-wide church today and therefore not helpful as a clear guiding principle.  We would like to see a sentence stating what "holisic mision" is which includes the elements being removed.

Third, and most baffling to me personally, is the change in Article 77 (pg. 29).  Why would we include deacons in the work of synod and then remove synodical oversight and encouragement of our denominatoinal agencies, many which are diaconal in nature?  Am I missing something?  It seems to me that synod ought to have a say about the denominational ministryes what all our churches support.  We did not see how the guiding principles and changes in Articles 73-76 lend support to this move.

I would appreciate input from others.  Thanks!

1.  volunteers from the church operate a food pantry one morning every week.  (8 volunteers typically)

2.  girls club and boys club are run by volunteers from  church  (20 volunteers or so?)

3.  one evening a week we run a program for neighborhood families that includes meal, worship, kids tutoring, parents discussion group.  This program involves some 30 volunteers from church.

4.  summer programs for kids weekly   (ten to 20 volunteers)

oh He does open the floodgates of heaven when we give our tithe!!!  I was going to respond last week, and I didn't get to it... had the link open for several days as a reminder ;/... 

I hear  people often, "we aren't suppose to test God."  Wrong!!!  in Malachi 3 God gives us very specific permission to test Him in our giving!!  Tithes, offerings and gifts are God's economy... Giving (particularly in a struggling economy) is totally backward to "rational" thinking, totally counter-intuitive...  He is so amazing...  our family has tons of testimonies/God stories about finances, but I would like to recommend a book by YWAM founder, Loren Cunninghma, called "Daring to live on the Edge: The adventure of faith and finances"  =)

One comment I wanted to make last week, is that it seems some/many in the crc do not think tithing is for the modern day.  I was surprised in a discussion on tithing with several pastors, and they didn't think it was a concept continued in the NT. 

I do believe God is still asking for our tithe and sees it as a valuable principle for us to follow, along with our gifts and offerings...  because of Jesus response to the Pharisees telling them not to neglect the tithe, along with ministering love, mercy and justice to those in their sphere of influence...   I see tithing as giving an estimated 10% to where you worship and where you are trained for warfare... then gifts and offerings are above that, to other ministries and those in need... 

 

It is obvious--I have several texts that I use to tithe:[I'll only use 2]:... Mal 3: 10 works;  also Luke 11:42 NLT, where Jesus says "....You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect  the more important things!"   NASB and GW versions says essentially the same thing, PTL

My Dad was a non-practicing Jew an always tithed. He said something to the effect that if God wanted 10% he was going to give 10%. (Mom always  was a Christian). We never missed out on anything. The bills were always paid on time.

Three decades before I heard of the CRC, I heard a Baptist sermon on tithing. I asked the preacher, "Gross or net?" He said, "Gross." In 50 years it has never "cost" us anything. The old people in First Everett CRC say the same thing. Tithing doesn't "cost" anything. With God, "A deal's a deal."

Some of the best resources I have found come from Brian Kluth (www.kluth.org). Brian has devoted himself to teaching stewardship. He has a 40 day devotional for individuals or small groups. When our ministry group used this, one of our members was convicted that they had not done enough to teach their children about stewardship even though the parents are generous givers themselves. Churches have reported significant increase In giving when using Brian's materials.

There is a book out about short term mission trips, but I can see many of the same principles in regular giving.  The book is titled "When Helping Hurts." 

It forces us to think about what we are doing.  Are we just throwing money at things to make them go away?  Is this done for some therapuetic reprieve for our guilty souls?  Money is a very dangerous thing.  Is our giving truely cheerful?

I think we need to be careful not to confuse giving, with stewardship.  Giving 10% or 20% of your income to the wrong causes could be very poor stewardship.   Giving 10% to the church is allowing the church to be stewards of that money.  If the church is a good steward, then the money will be used effectively and efficiently in causes that honor and glorify Christ, and which promote the gifts which God has given us. 

In terms of encouraging others to give a "stewardly" amount to the church, I think this should be done holistically.  First of all, it needs to be seen and felt to be voluntary, the results of cheerful and thankful giving.   For those who want to be cheerful givers, they should consider "giving back to God" as their first priority, not just checking whether there is something left over to give after buying the fancy boat or cottage or vacation or big screen TV.   Giving is always a sign of spiritual health, a sign of thankfulness and contentment with God's blessings, and a sign of willingness to trust God for our daily needs.  A lack of giving is sometimes a sign of idolization of money or financial security, and sometimes a sign of poverty.  

And Jesus was very clear that "giving to God"(church) can never be a substitute for obedience to God, which includes obeying God, loving your neighbor and looking after the needs of those placed in your care.

I commend you for starting this dicussion. Try and engage people from Barnabas (USA)  and Christian Stewardship Services (CDN). These folks are involved, usually, with CRC members on ``end of life``  financial issues.  Also suggest you seperate the USA discussion from the CND discussion because of the legal and tax issues that come up. It can be very confusing  if the person writing is not identified as coming from the USA or CND.

I am from CND.

I agree!  Giving to the budget is never inspiring, and giving out of guilt is not in line with a spirit of generosity!  I've also found that pastors avoid the financial stewardship discussion because their salaries are part of that and it can feel awkward.  I'm hoping that this will be a forum where we can start these conversations going.  Are there any resources in particular that you would recommend?

I don't think churches have done a good job at teaching stewardship because at least in the past pastors were not taught how. Too often church finances are left to deacons who are also untrained in this area. Deacons who ask a Pastor to preach a sermon on giving because the church is short of money are going about things the wrong way. So its trying to encourage giving by pointing out how short of the budget the church is. While budgets are needed, they do not promote an understanding of stewardship. The worst thing to do is to try to make people feel guilty. Done right good stewardship training can make a great difference in a church and kingdom finances. There are lots of resources available.

Elna Siebring from Halifax sent the follow story.  Thanks for sharing Elna!

 

 

 Every year around this time I always seem to have an experience  of a Christmas miracle....... it happens at the Mission where we serve breakfast to our street friends in Halifax.  Every year it catches me by surprise.  This year it happened again.    9 am  Christmas Eve morning and our last guests, Martha and Shelley had just left the mission.  A couple minutes later the two women returned to the dining hall and asked if they could speak with me.  They had met a young mother pushing her 7 month old baby in a  stroller through the streets in the pouring rain and knocking on church doors.  She had run out of diapers for her baby and had no money to buy new ones.   My  friends wanted to know if they could invite her  to come in out of the cold and have some breakfast even though it was past closing time.   I said 'definitely, invite her in and we will find something to serve her".  Martha and Shelley helped carry the stroller down the flight of wooden steps, down the alley and into the dining room.  The mom was so young, so beautiful, so desperate.  Her hands were freezing cold and her hair dripping wet.   Her baby was so adorable and he was toastie warm in the stroller.....kept dry by the plastic rain cover.   Bill, who reminds me of my Oom Henk, was washing the dishes that morning.  Bill is crazy about babies.  He pulled up a chair beside the stroller and spent the time cooing to the baby.  The baby woul look up at Bill with his big blue-grey eyes (the colour of a winter sky) and give him big smiles while us women visited with the mom over  a breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast.    Before the mom left, we were able to give her new mittens, hat and socks. The church that was serving that morning delivered diapers,  the left over breakfast food  and other needed things to her apartment.  The mom was so grateful for the gifts of food and clothing....which for most of us are everyday things.  I am grateful to Shelley and Martha who saw the mother and child in need and invited them into the mission.  For in this act of hospitality, I witnessed a Christmas Miracle... we were visited by Mary and the Christ-child down at the Mission on Christmas Eve Day. 

posted in: Christmastime!

Good topic. Bill Gates is covers both bases, evidence of true  Christianity? He gives away so much money that he had to start a (501c3) corporation to help him give away money.

Or is Gates trying to buy his way into Heaven? Would that make him a typical Christian?

Several times I have tried to help people by giving them money to help them through a situation and it made their situation worse. 

Some people will never forgive a person for helping them.

Only God has the ability to intentionally forget. Would most Christians help their neighbors if their good works were  to be hidden from God?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leon - it seems like that could be a great resource for other churches to use!  Thanks for sharing!

Hi Melissa,

I'm encouraged by your focus on stewardship.  This Sunday we'll be completing a three-week stewarship series developed by Robert Heerspink, called "The Joy of Generosity" (Reformed Worship, March 2001), which has been helpful.  Yes, it's interesting how infrequent we talk about this subject.  And I'm also guilty of avoiding it.  But as one author reminded me recently, giving is data that must be analyzed.  If nothing else, this study has challenged me to give more, which is a good thing!

With Gratitude,

Leon H. Johnston

Wolf Creek Community Church

Check out this new issue of Partners (a diaconal newsletter from Diaconal Ministries of Canada) which spells out a few of the changes recommended to Synod by the Diakonia Remixed Task Force http://www.diaconalministries.com/resources/documents/PartnersDec2012.pdf

Melissa,

This is a great reminder and I just wanted to give it a "bump" to help keep it in people's radar.  I especially wanted to point out your recommendation to bring overtures of support to classis and synod concerning the report.  You folks have done great work on an important issue that has literally been discussed for something like a century.  Bavink, Kuyper, Wm. Heyns all talked about making deacons part of the broader assemblies.  It has come up before Synod before but the pushback was always that it wasn't the traditional way of understanding the office.  Hopefully the tipping point will take place this summer.

Let's not make this the "sleeper" at synod that's not discussed until Friday afternoon.  Let's give it the time and the attention that it deserves.  Semper Reformanda! (steps off of soapbox).

There is something to be debated about whether tithing should be on one's gross income or net income. I suspect that tithing by the people of Israel also went for some administrative purposes, possible even the maintenance of the King and his palaces. But I would love to be informed by someone who knows better. So even then, the tithe was something like a tax. Some portion of current taxes are for doing good, but most go to support the core functions of the state -- defense and administration of justice (in my ideal world, at least.) As for the taxes that come directly out of my pocket, namely the property, sales, and gas taxes, I have a little bit of control over those, buy controlling what and how much I buy, while admitting that I am relatively powerless to set the tax rates on those.

Clearly, in the New Testament, Christ wants us to give generously, and a tithe is a good starting place. But I would calculate my tithe on the money that shows up in my bank accounts (or similar pockets). That is the part I have some control over, the part that I see as given to me by God to administer on his behalf.

Should paying secular bureaucrats to fund and administer government programs count as a tithe because some of those programs help poor people?  No, of course not.

But does the fact that most Americans are required at gunpoint to pay close to (if not more than) half their income in taxes (federal income, state income, property, sales, gas, etc.)  to the government make it MUCH, MUCH harder to tithe?  Of course it does.

George, interesting question.   I would say that it does not equate to paying tithes since it is involuntary (taxes), and it is paying for services as much as helping the poor.   In otherwords, old age security is available to most people, and unemployment benefits are paid from wages, based on the assumption that if you are unemployed, then you can access it.  It is more insurance than donation.  While it is true that some of the church's tasks of helping the poor have been reduced or made easier by the fact that the state has put in place methods for assisting the poor, you could argue that simply providing for your family from your wages also prevents poverty in your wife and children, and thus does the same thing.   When the church helps the poor it comes with the message that we do this because Jesus loves us.   When the state does it, it is usually to prevent disgrace or food riots. 

As I once heard someone say "People tell me that they've been a Christian for twenty years, when they've really been a Christian for only one year, and they've just been repeating themselves for the last 19."

Another important consideration is this, that being older does not automatically make you more spiritually mature.   And you can also probably think of examples where spiritual enthusiasm does not necessarily equate to spiritual maturity.   Sometimes I am thinking that spiritual enthusiasm might be better than spiritual maturity.  Even though it sometimes leads to mistakes and errors, spiritual enthusiasm does not have the error of complacency, which is often attached to "spiritual maturity".   So I would say that the spiritually enthusiastic youth ought not to let themselves be held back too much by the so-called spiritual maturity of the "olders".  Listen yes, consider yes, but live out your obedient joy in Christ in all its fulness where ever and whenever you have the opportunity! 

Melissa, thank you for this post. Two quick observations are in order.  First, the criteria in scripture for church office is not age; it is spiritual maturity. Second, at age 13 Mormon "Teenagers" are inducted into the Aaronic Priesthood and at that point take on all the responsibilities of an adult member. In Soul Searching it is interesting that Mormon youth have a better understanding of their faith and tend to stick much better than Protestant youth. In light of the above observations perhaps it is time for us to recognize that teenagers are young adults who ought to be mentored into adulthood, and the role of adults and particularily elders, is to spiritually mentor young adults. 

We seem to be getting confused by several different issues here and mixing them all together.  

Profession of faith is a bit misnamed since it is seen as a committment to membership, not to faith.  After all, we wouldn't say that those who have not made profession of faith at age 6 or ten or sixteen are necessarily therefore without faith.  Perhaps the faith of a child is often stronger in fact.  So it is really a committment to membership, to particular confessions, to living a life of gratitude and joy and obedience to Christ, and recognizing this in a public way.  This could be done at perhaps age 12 or 16, but too many wait far too long; we might ask ourselves why they wait so long. 

Voting in a congregation ought to be at an age set by the congregation.  Perhaps at 18, or 16, or 20, whatever the congregation decides with council in its wisdom, but not automatically tied to a profession of faith, although it should be a pre-requisite.   In some cases, additional advisory votes by nonprofessing members could also be considered (but non-binding).   

Just because you can vote, doesn't mean you automatically should be able to sit on council.   Again, council and church should set a minimum age, recognizing that while wisdom can be present in the youth, it is not for nothing that elders are called elders and not youngers or middlers.   While exceptions should be possible, it would be good to look at possibly an age of about 30 for council.   I remember being on council a few years before that, and while it was good to serve, it would not have done any harm either to wait a few years. 

There are other places to lead and serve besides council.  Not only that, but no Christ-like elders would deliberately rule out conversations with non-council members, and would normally appreciate their input.  Council meetings are supposed to be open to anyone who wishes to attend, unless it is in executive session.   And non-council members can request an opportunity to speak or present an issue. 

Finally, I find it hard to believe that any council does not look forward to the future leadership of those who are presently young.  But as Ecclesiastes says, there is a time for everything, and everything in its time. 

Being a youth pastor, I really appreciate this article for a few reasons. First, I think it gives a strong voice to something that's been swept under the rug for some time. I wasn't aware of this before working with them, but youth are full of brilliant ideas, energy, and charisma – something a lot of our congregations envy. What better way to harness those gifts than involving them in the core conversations. Secondly, the "maturity" of students is almost always undercredited. They may say or do things that are left field, but maybe that's also the reason they stay away from church leadership (because they're looked down upon so agressively). The church should be the place we not only encourage growth, but where we display grace. And what better way to show those qualities than at a leadership level?

I understand that there are legal boundaries to this, but most congregations won't consider anyone for leadership until at least mid twenties, nearly ten years after they can be "legally bound".

Don't think kids care about this? Simply ask them yourselves. I did and I was surprised at how disappointed they were for not being embraced as future leaders. 

Don't want to throw a wrench into the works, however, serving on council also means sitting on a board of an incorporated NGO. State/Provincial legislation in this area usually requires one to be of legal voting age. 

Consequently, the denomination needs to separate the matter of "profession of faith" from "membership in a society", i.e. church as a legal entity.

a person is called by THE LORD to be part of HIS CHURCH.  after public profession of FAITH, he or she has not only the  RIGHT BUT ALSO THE DUTY to fully participate,in all aspects of KINGDOM  work/

Some interesting words from Job 32:

“I am young in years,
and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
not daring to tell you what I know.
7 I thought, ‘Age should speak;
advanced years should teach wisdom.’
8 But it is the spirit[b] in a person,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
9 It is not only the old[c] who are wise,
not only the aged who understand what is right."

How young is too young for council? Shoot, before we ask that question maybe we ought to deal with the question of how young is too young to be allowed to vote at congregational meetings. My congregation answered that by banning those under 16 from voting, even though they've made profession of faith. My motions to elimnate that were quickly shot down during both my terms on council. I mentioned that, given the policy, and in the interest of honesty, maybe we oughtn't read that part of the profession of faith form that says "I now welcome you to all the privileges of full communion. I welcome you to full participation in the life of the church. I welcome you to its responsibilities, its joys, and its sufferings."

For me, a few ideas come to mind here.  First and foremost, maybe it's not about pushing the age limit lower and lower, but rather about first addressing the issue of the council strongholds being willing to pass on the baton to a younger generation of leaders, and to walk alongside them (as a council member ex-officio, or similar).  My guess is, without having this discussion first, and making this a council-wide priority, plugging in a 21 year old into the council room will have negative effects.

Second, I get frustrated when I hear about "youth representatives" on committees.  This creates a two-tier system, which essentially minimizes the voice of the youth.  Each person who sits at the table comes by nature as a representative of certain groups or demographics, but we name only the "youth rep" for our own agenda.  How come we don't have the "working moms rep" or "over 80 rep" or "knitter's rep" at the table?  

Last, never underestimate the potential having a young adult at the table can bring to the meeting.  What would it mean to have someone constantly ask, "So, tell me, why exactly are we doing it this way?" might slow the meeting down, but it would quickly bring intentionality back to the purpose of your church.  Not to mention the fact that there are some youth that simply have the gift of leadership, perhaps moreso than some of our existing members.  What better place to develop that than within the church?  We have a whole pile of children, youth, and young adults that love Jesus, love the church, and deeply desire to belong and invest in a local congregation.  They want to pour back into the community that helped shape their faith.  We absoutely must give them the opportunity!

I don't think a teenager has the maturity needed to be an elder or deacon. Having said that, I think it would be a good idea  to include them in the council somehow so they can become aware of what it means to lead the church. What I would like to see is more young people, teenagers and post high, given the responsibility of heading ministries in the church - youth groups, Gems, Cadets, Sunday School, etc. This will give them a chance to mature in their roles as leaders. It will also make them feel like they can make an important contribution to the church.  If the older generation has been in charge of youth ministries, it's time to turn over the job of leadership. This also gives the older members a chance to look at new ways God might be leading them. If we give our young people a chance to lead in ministry, to experience the joys and frustrations, that will help them to develop their leadership skills. Then they will be ready to lead as elders and deacons. Maybe they will even think of pursuing the call of ministry, after gaining some experience.

(In the same way) The new public tv documentary about the Dust Bowl is very important for three reasons. First, most people alive today think the Vietnam War is ancient history and the Dust Bowl is beyond their comprehension. They have no one to tell them about real hard times.

Second, because current political debate is about poor people "deserving" or being "entitled to" government help. The movie tells about a time when event real patroitic, church going, Bible believing, hard working, job wanting Baptist - and I suppose a few Reformed - Americans can literally come to the end of their rope.

Third, because some Americans refuse to admit that "Mother Nature," even our "Reformed" can turn against us especially when we ignore what she or he is trying to tell us. For example, we built the Glen Canyon Dam and the year after Lake Powell was full the the rain stopped. The Ogllala Aquifer has been half sucked dry. The Colorado River no longer reaches the Gulf of Mexico.  See  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogallala_Aquifer  Before the current Oil Wars are ended the Water Wars will have started.

 

 

posted in: The Poverty Line

A suggestion, or three:   in 74b proposed revision of church order, add in "church" ministry.  In 75b, add in "classical" ministry.  In 76b, add in "denominational" ministry.   Just to be clear. 

I heard Donn Hansum 3 years ago when he spoke for Christian Service Ministries in the Chicago area.  He did an excellent job and I highly recommend this webinar!

Thanks, Melissa!

Broken record plug...the books of John Collins, who over the last several years has made the case that the diakon- family of words carries with it the idea that diakonia also carries with it the idea of "bridgebuilder" or "ambassador"...once again, something that we all are for the kingdom of God.

What's interesting, is that the same basic word used for deacon is also used for (translated into)  "minister" and "ministry".

Love these questions. We are beginning to ask similar ones of the Host Churches for Youth Unlimited's Serve since that one week opportunity ought to have strong links to the ongoing work of the congregation in the community. 

Yes, maybe we should see injustice where we don't see it now.  But how does speaking in generalities help?   Will you be more likely to help someone because they are unjustly treated than simply because they have a need?   Will you adopt an orphan quicker because they are unjustly an orphan, than because they are an orphan who has a need?   Will you adopt an orphan due to a tsunami less quickly than an orphan whose mother simply abandoned her?  Will you adopt a handicapped orphan quicker because no one else will, than a healthy whole child for whom adoptive parents are competing? 

If a person cannot get a job because they have no skills, is that unjust?  Do you then help them to get some skills, or just complain about injustice?  or try to create work for them?  or give them some food?   or ignore them because there is no injustice?  

In order to make sense of injustice, you need to be specific, don't you think? 

You're right - we don't always see things as injust - but perhaps we need to be challenged to!  There are systemic issues that perpetually keep people marginalized.  How can we better love and serve our refugee, aboriginal or immigrant friends?  What does it look like for us to stand with those who have disabilities, mental illness, are homeless or in a state of poverty?  It's important to see needs - but it's also important to see the injustice that creates the need.  And call a spade a spade (or injustice, injustice). :)

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