Blog

Deacons who serve well work hard at connecting with members of the congregation, organizing ministry, and finding appropriate resources. This final installment on deacons and people with disabilities suggests ideas for ministry and provides some resources to implement those ideas.

July 3, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

Deacons are catalysts for change and it's only natural that that would include working for justice in our churches for people with disabilities.  Join us for Part 3 of our 4 part series exploring the connectedness between Disability Concerns and Deacons.

June 26, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

To minister well with people who have disabilities, we need to understand the wide range of disability and the ways in which all of us can unintentionally exclude people with disabilities from the life and ministry of our churches.

June 18, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

People with disabilities are often marginalized in our communities and our churches.  Join Mark and myself over the next four weeks as we explore how what disabilities are, what they might look like in our midst, and how Deacons can be a catalyst for justice for people with disabilities.

June 12, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

When we become task focused we can lose sight of what God is calling us to, or asking of us - as individuals and churches. What would it look like for us to stop staring at the trees, but rather see beyond the immediate and discover our unique ways of serving.

May 29, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

The Office of the Deacon Task Force, Diakonia Remixed, is back again with their preliminary report!  They are looking for feedback before June 30th.  Check out the work they have been doing and share  your thoughts about the changes they are recommending. Are you curious about what it says?

May 22, 2012 0 3 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 05/16/2012 Many deacons today are not trained and prepared to fulfill their role in the church. Join us as we identify the main roles of the deacon, discuss how deacons can be more effective with benevolence needs, as well as learn how to encourage good stewardship of time, talent and finances in the congregation.

May 16, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

TOMORROW (May 16th, noon) we have the opportunity to participate in a webinar geared specifically to the work of deacons. Join Bernita Tuinenga and Dave Ellens as they identify the main roles of the deacon, discuss how they can be more effective with benevolence needs, and learn how to encourage good stewardship...

May 15, 2012 0 3 comments
Blog

Showing hospitality can take many different forms as it's expressed through different people and in a variety of situations. Lately I've been thinking about hospitality as an act of mercy. Mercy for the person who is alone. Mercy for the person who feels uncomfortable in a social setting. Mercy for the person who needs assistance.

May 15, 2012 0 2 comments
Blog

We all need a little help now and then. Though we may like to believe we can do it ourselves, we actually might be able to do our ministry more effectively by getting some assistance. Fortunately for deacons there are organizations and resources available to support us. In this blog two are named - and we're looking for more... 

April 24, 2012 0 7 comments
Q&A

In June, our congregation will elect new elders and deacons.  As deacons, we have recently begun talking about ways to effective transition the tasks of retiring deacons to those who remain and those who will be joining, and to orient the new deacons to the office and its responsibilities. ...

April 18, 2012 0 3 comments
Blog

As the church we have the responsibility to act justly - yet we often shy away from complex justice issues.  In Canada, a new initiative is seeking truth and reconciliation for those Aboriginal persons and communities that have been affected by attending residential schools. How should we respond as individuals, churches and a denomination?

April 17, 2012 0 2 comments
Blog

A poem by Edgar Guest reminds us that our lives are sermons, and invites us as leaders to live out our faith - as it is often more powerful to see a sermon lived out than to listen to one.  "I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell ..."

April 3, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

The role of the deacon is best utilized to prepare people to become elders.  Useful as a "training ground" for future elders, the office of the deacon is the perfect place to introduce folks to council without having too much responsibility!  NEWSFLASH: This isn't the truth!  

March 27, 2012 0 9 comments
Blog

It's seventh inning stretch time. This is the time of the year when the initial gusto of the start has waned, and now, you may find yourself in a bit of a rut. I always hope not, but the reality is that it happens. We get tired. It's tough. What should we do about it?

March 6, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

As children our lives are full of opportunities - and we seem to create endlessly in all sorts of ways.  As we get older our lives change, our priorities and responsibilities look different and we may find ourselves idealizing those good old days, rather than living fully now.  As deacons we can encourage hope and inspire joy simply by living truly.

February 21, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

Getting the roles of governance and ministry mixed up is the crippling confusion in many councils. For deacons, the role confusion can be even more painful and debilitating. Are deacons primarily decision makers? Or are they ministers of benevolence and mercy? Are they sometimes both?

February 7, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

The church is made up of people.  Deacon teams are too.  I'm thankful for the people who serve our congregations, and today we hear a brief reflection from an everyday deacon - someone like you! 

January 26, 2012 0 2 comments
Blog

A gold mine of information exists in the realms of the Deacon network! When was the last time you checked out the "All Resources" section? If you've browsed it, you've noticed tabs for articles, blogs, resources and  websites. The wealth of information you can access is phenomenal! 

January 17, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

How do you start your deacon meetings?  Would you be interested in devotions that explore your calling to this role, while helping you understand the charge to deacons?  Diaconal Ministries of Canada has provided deacons with another great resource - Devotions for Deacons!

January 10, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

There sits in the centre of our backyard a beautiful young healthy cherry tree, yet its story is a sad one of limited potential.  As we begin a new year will your story be like the cherry tree's?  Or will you embrace the opportunities and dreams God has given you?

January 1, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

It's been said that 90% of life is just showing up. I realized this week that HOW we show up is important. I think  many of us (myself included) need to take a good hard look at the attitudes we are bringing to the table when we enter a particular situation, because it affects waaaaaay more than just ourselves.

December 19, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

Melissa Van Dyk mentioned the results of the Diakonia Remixed survey in her blog post and raised some questions concerning terms for deacons. The task force would like to take the opportunity, in this blog post, to preview some of our work and hear your feedback regarding terms for deacons.

December 12, 2011 0 9 comments
Blog

The Diakonia Remixed Deacon Task Force has shared the responses from the survey taken earlier this year.  With over 333 responses, it helps paint the landscape of diaconal ministry in the CRCNA.  Reviewing the survey I had two responses...

December 6, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

If God is present in each conversation we are having, can we allow his voice to be heard?  Or are we too busy inputting our own opinions and advice to actually allow the Spirit to speak.  What might happen if we became people who actually let God say what needs to be said...?

November 29, 2011 0 1 comments

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Hi Rebecca,

You can go to this link and check it out.  Lisa

http://www.crcna.org/pages/servicelink_dayofservice.cfm

Lisa, I am unaware of this national program and I'd be interested in learning more. Do you have any links you can share? Thanks!

When I was in college, for a semester abroad that I spent in Uganda, we were required to read a book by John Taylor, entitled "The Primal Vision" It's emphasis was on being present with others. It was not an easy read, but it was good and it set the tone for our entire semester there. I would highly recommend it as a help on this topic.

How do you speak truth?   Say this:  "Why are you bitter?  Why are you bitter when others are worse off, and much less bitter?"   and then feed them some chocolate, or pot pie, or vanilla pudding.  and help them to find encouragement.   Do not be afraid to spend some of your money on them if necessary.   Spend time to listen. 

They must throw off their own burden of regret, realizing that Christ carries the burden.  Our sins are forgiven, and no more fishing to bring them back up. 

Bad choices?  Hope?   Christ offers hope.   I make enough bad choices of my own.   We all need that hope. 

The "elders rule" and "deacons serve" is a false and misleading statement.  Elders and deacons both rule and both serve within their calling and office.   Each office has a unique mandate which requires leadership, ruling and serving within that sphere.  

The phrase became popular during the women in office debate because it helped some people get around "headship".  In effect they were saying, that the elders are given spiritual authority  by Christ to oversee and "rule" the body on His behalf.  They wanted to compartmentalize the ruling aspect to the elders to allow for women deacons so they would not violate their ideas of male headship in the deacon office.   

Personally I have always thought this was a false distinction to make.  The Bible teaches clearly that Christ is head of the church.   I think we should be careful about assuming a title for ourselves that the Bible only gives to Christ.  There is no place that says "The elders are the head of the church."  

So let us all look to Christ, our head, as we rule and serve within our respective offices.   Jon Westra

    

Thank you for your insights.  Whether one is doing the work of a deacon or that of a hospice chaplain (myself), possibly the most significant thing we do is to be present, be silent, be good listeners.  Again, thank you for sharing your wisdom.

James, nice to meet you! I think it's amazing that we can have a conversation about partnering. I definitely want to dialogue with you more about how we can serve/share with each other! I'll be in touch! (And maybe other curious/interested deacons will be too!)

Thanks Stan! I look forward to your insights and comments! I had followed the links, and laughed at the clever space fillers. The site looks good, I was impressed we even had one! Nice work!

Tammy! That is such a great connection to make. Thank you for sharing it. I love the question you've posed, and I too am curious to hear the stories. I wonder if you have one that can start us off?

P. S. Thanks for joining the Network! :) I'm glad you're here.

Jean Vanier, founder of L'arche, focuses on building community with others by being present with them.  Your post made me think of what a ministry of presence could look like for deacons and our churches.  It is challenging to slow down our pace - getting beyond meeting agendas and 'to do' lists, to just being present with others.  I wonder what stories of being present are out there?

Karl, thank you for the work that you have done, I hope you will continue to contribute to The Network. Your wisdom is much appreciated.

I work as a Deacons coordinator in Kenya for the Reformed Church of East Africa, Deacons department in Kenya. I would be happy if we could receive volunteer deacons work / partner with our deacons care committee in kenya. Looking for partners in deacons ministry.

Contact on this email.

Hi Melissa! I'm looking forward to your contributions to the Network! (And your link to our classis website reminds me of my summer project to complete it! Did you try clicking on Links or Contacts?) ~Stan

One more comment, Melissa.   In some smaller churches or even in some larger churches, there should be no shame attached to having continuing service by some deacons or elders, if there is a small pool of eligible office bearers.   Some pastors have served continually in one church for twenty years, and if there is a need for this there should be no reason why longer terms or extended terms for some elders and deacons could not occur in the same way.    If there is a sense of calling, rather than just a job to get it over and done with, then this extended term will not seem unnatural or difficult when there is a need for it. 

Good question, Melissa.  Possibly you could guess at the answers also.  Let me think out loud (on paper) a bit.   I suspect there are a combination of reasons.   Let me start with the calling of preachers.   Ministers used to have a calling that really trusted in the Lord, both for the calling, and for provision.   Some ministers really resisted the formation of a pension fund, just for that reason, because it seemed to take out the connection between the health of the church and providing for retired ministers.  As time went on, the preacherhood became more of a career, rather than a calling (in spite of what it is called).   This attitude also had an effect on everyone else, so that a farmer or carpenter now had a career instead of a calling, and it was mostly about making a living rather than providing a service or doing God's work in your daily occupation as a plumber or painter.  This is a subtle shift in attitude, unnoticed by most people. 

So this subtle shift also began to impact the roles of elder and deacon.   These became tasks and jobs to do rather than a calling by God, but they were tasks without pay, and so became just another volunteer opportunity, competing with the myriads of other volunteer opportunities in any community, including in the church. 

Associated with this is the increase in respect for wealth, for fiscal planning, for leisure, and the decline  of respect for sacrifice and service and calling.  

One more aspect of the lack of respect for calling is the perceived difference in calling for preachers vs elders and deacons.  In many cases, too much stuff is shoved to preachers, as if they are the only spiritual leaders.   This is very harmful to the other roles.   The church order states these offices are equal in honor, but the church order itself does not treat them as equal in honor, and people including pastors do not treat them with the honor they require.   Stating that a minister is of the word and sacraments is not necessary, for example.   There is no reason that an elder could not administer the sacraments, and they should be encouraged to do so, by taking turns especially at Lord's supper.   Elders ought to pronounce the blessings and benedictions without assuming that they are somehow less worthy to do so.  These things do not require a masters of divinity, and thus there is no justification for making a distinction, other than wanting to make preachers into priests, which is not reformed, and not scriptural. 

When preachers are asked to pray or lead at some social events, they ought to decline often, or deliberately ask an elder or deacon or former leader to do so, just to emphasize and teach the value of these callings.  

This leadership training also occurs elsewhere such as in the home or at other activities.   When we are at various board meetings or bible studies or at home having devotions around the table, we make a point of taking turns reading the bible, or praying, or leading in devotions, encouraging as many as possible to participate over time so that they have more opportunity to feel enriched, and less intimidated.  

Family visiting was not only a chance to encourage families or listen to their concerns, but it was also a training by experienced elders and pastors for the newer and younger elders and pastors as to how to deal with and introduce spiritual matters and concerns and answers into a family setting.   The less that is done is also resulting in a reduction of the training that used to happen.  

The task of deacon has improved a bit over the years as it has become more proactive, I think.   But I'm not sure if the message and reason for diaconal work that Stephen was stoned for, is obvious in the work of the deacons.   Deacons also ought to be able to give a clear reason for their life and work and calling in such a way that the glory always is given to God, and that the message of Christ's sacrifice and body of believers is obvious.   That is their calling. 

I also want to say that men are strange beasts.   Often they will leave tasks to women, if the women will do them.   This seems to be the case in several mainline denominations, where when women entered into the offices of elders and deacons and pastors, there was the result of a direct decline of men who felt called to those offices.   Maybe it was coincidental, maybe not.   If men do not lead in the church, they will be less likely to feel the need to lead in the home.   The lack of leadership by men in families has a direct result on the committment of the children to their faith life, and so a generation or two later, the children who grow up do not see their service in the church as a calling.  

While I hear your theory of "busyness", it has been my experience that people have always been busy.   Often busier in the past than today.   But they often set different priorities for their "busyness". 

Perhaps you also have some insights or theories on "the shrinking pool of people"?   I would be interested to hear them. 

John, I really appreciate the deeper insight you've offered in this comment.  I am wondering if you have any further thoughts on how the view of office you have reminded us of morphed into the current view of office as just another task to do, because it seems to have eroded quite quickly in recent years.   

Karl, your statement, "too many pastors are dying for a lack of feedback" hit me when I read it the second time.   I find it a shame that lack of feedback should cause preachers to die since we should be working for the Lord, not for approval of men.   But on the other hand, I understand that a lack of response really makes you wonder about the impact of what you are doing, and whether it is appreciated or not.    I suggest that if preachers or elders or deacons want feedback, that they not be too shy to ask for it.   That they ask for it in a way that is meaningful to them.   That they ask specific questions.   They may not always get the answers they expect, nor as complete as they would like, but it will be better than silence or absence of reaction.   I must admit however, that I really enjoy the unsolicited comments the most. 

posted in: Feedback to Pastors

I agree Karl, that deacons can provide feedback to the preachers, pastors, elders, and cleaning staff, although it should be done in a charitable, positive, constructive and loving way.    Perhaps the way to start this is for deacons themselves also to ask for feedback from the congregation, and from elders and pastors.   This will help them to understand how to give feedback to others, and it may encourage others also to ask for feedback.   It may also be helpful to start with deacons giving feedback to each other, and then go on from there.  

posted in: Feedback to Pastors

I've always assumed it was mandatory to bring the church budget to the annual congregational meeting for approval.  All churches I have been in have done this.   All non-profits societies and charities are required to have an annual meeting of membership with proper notice, which approves the financial statement and the next years budget, at least in Canada.   This also improves communication, and increases understanding and "ownership".    Sometimes adjustments to budget are made at the annual congregational meeting.  

This budgeting is not done by the deacons, but by the council as a whole in cooperation with the treasurer, who may or may not be a member of council, but usually is not.   Generally the deacons submit a list of proposed offerings to the council for approval, but this is not part of the budget as it is over and above the budget. 

We do not use pledges, but rather assume the giving on the principles of giving as the Lord blesses, and as the need arises. 

If you are in the tornado zone, you may want to consider what you can do to help there.   Perhaps gather a group of young people for a few days of cleaning up, or home building, or sorting of materials.... 

At one time, long, long ago, if you were nominated for an office, it was understood that you could not say "no", since you were called if chosen.   The spiritual value of the office, and the spiritual responsibility of all professing members and the implicit promise that they would serve where called, meant that the main difficulty for a council nominating new members was whether they met the qualifications of office, being apt to teach, being of good character, and ruling their households well.  

If the elder and deacon are seen only as another task, and not as a specific calling, then it is easy to say, "no, I won't serve as deacon, but perhaps I could clean the sidewalk, or paint the walls, or teach a class, or pay a little more to hire someone else to do the painting and lawncutting.   Or maybe we could pay a lilttle more to hire another pastor... "   The engagement should be at a spiritual level.   Leadership does not mean looking at a budget, or listening to reports.   It means listening to the Lord, and shaping the budget, and directing new ministries or invigorating old ministries.     The excitement of listening to the Lord needs to infiltrate everyone, and thus it will also infiltrate potential leaders. 

We adopt the church budget at a congregational meeting in December for the following Jan-Dec.  A committee is put in charge of creating the budget, and the congregation is welcome to ask any questions they'd like before they affirm the work of the committee and take ownership of the budget.  

At a spring congregational meeting we review the audited financial statements and previous years budget results.

Everyone, including deacons, are in a position to encourage one another.   True contentment, confidence, and stability come from a trust in God, that God knows what He is doing, even when people do not.   Putting our confidence in humans or horses will miss the mark, and we will always be disappointed.   Maybe stability should not be our goal, however.  Perhaps our goal ought to be to seek God's will, whether it is stability or lack of stability, whether it is trial or comfort, whether it is triumph or struggle.  God often seems to do His work through our trials and struggles, perhaps more than through our stability and earthly security. 

I agree with Rebecca, I like that list Karl. :D

To add to that list our deacon team has also done the following:

a. Gather food offerings from the congregation monthly for a local ministry we are in relationship with and our food bank, and then distribute that.

b. Host a budgeting session, to teach interested persons about biblical financial principles and actually teach them how to create a budget that works.

c. Count the offerings, informing the congregation monthly about how much has been received, and managing the financial resources for benevolence [which has been used for groceries, rent, medications, tuition, simple gifts]

d. Write notes to people in our congregation, either those ill for whom we have been in prayer, or thank yous to people who have helped us in serving.

e. Create the offering schedule and promote an offering at least once a month.

f. Increase congregational awareness of various deacon "things". For instance: items that may be confusing on the budget, benevolence,  tithing and stewardship, or the PAR program. 

g. Utilize DMC [www.diaconalministries.com] resources, both online and in person, to enhance our understanding of our roles and generate new ideas.

h. Intentially be present in the community [both in and around the church] developing relationships [new and old] and engaging in conversations so that we know those we are serving.

i. Met with members of our Missions Committee to discuss and develop ways that would allow us to build deeper relational contacts with the organizations we support through our church offerings.

j. The chair of the deacons has connected with each deacon for a 1-1 check in, asking about how they are doing, addressing any concerns, and offering affirmation and encouragement.

k. Regular visiting with a diverse group of individuals/families, sometimes because they have particular needs, sometimes just to say "hello". 

l. We attempted to organize rides to church on Sundays  for those who needed them, however, at the time no one seemed to be in need of one. [We are continually aware of this being a potential need].

 

The deacon role is so diverse, it's often hard to know what to do or where to start... but we've just been praying,  trying to pay attention to the community we're part of and be proactive in our service... knowing that God is moving and we've been invited to partner with Him.  

I love gathering ideas, sharing thoughts, and celebrating the collective wisdom we're surrounded by... so I'm looking forward to more responses :D

Karl, thanks for chiming in with some great ideas, and for all your thoughtful posts on this forum! Rebecca

I love lists!    So thanks for the opportunity to make one!  I'm going to make a short list, based on what I've seen in my own church, and based also a bit on what I'd LIKE to see!

1.  Deaconal praying, maybe with a deaconal prayer partner.  Specific prayers about stewardship opportunitites, needs, persons, the deacons themselves, community needs, the church...

2.  Deaconal contacts.  Either with another deacon, or with an elder partner, stay in touch with your section of the congregation, say by phone monthly, and by a visit once or twice a year.   And as needed with people in need.  Building relationships of trust and understanding.  

3.  Read articles or books on a regular basis that can help you deepen and broaden your vision and your understanding, and can help you bring new skills, ideas, or approaches to the deacons' meetings.

4.  Check in on the Diakonia Remixed site to see what this task force is up to.

5.  Make sure there is something once a month or so planned for inclusion in the worship service that will help the congregation learn about  a deaconal need, project, or service in the community or globally.

6.  Set aside a time regularly to check over the minutes from the last deacons' meeting, and to get prepared for the next one. Work with your chair of deacons to make sure that there is good followup and good homework so that meetings have continuity, and a sense of both community and accomplishment are strong.   

What do you find helpful here?   What doesn't ring any bells for you?   What do others find useful in thinking about a disciplined routine of deaconal activity?   

Thanks for your question, Rebecca!

Our congregation votes on the next year's church budget at our annual December meeting.  The deacons solict funding requests from the various committee heads during the fall and then work to craft a budget that balances needs, anticipated giving, and church goals.  The congregation receives a basic line item budget two weeks before the meeting, so that they have time to review it and voice any major concerns before the actual meeting.  We often get lively discussion that requires that the deacons provide more detailed explanations of budget items, but in my experience we've always ended up with a budget that gets (near) unanimous support by the time it reaches the congregational vote. 

Our church is fairly small (about 100 adult professing members), so generating "buy-in" isn't as difficult since almost everyone is involved in at least one church activity receiving budget funds and many sit on committees that have to submit their funding requests each year.

We do a similar thing to what Melissa's church does, except we're a little late on it (we actually end up approving the Jan-Dec. budget in Feb. of that same year, somewhat retroactively).

As far as "ownership" goes, one thing that we've done is we've encourage people to make ministry proposals that could be included as project based initiatives in the budget each year--this give people an opportunity to put something on their hearts into the budget and make it tangible.

Otherwise, I've heard of churches that do a totally pledge-based budget (and I think this is a great idea). They gather pledges in November or so, and then make their budget ONLY out of the money in the pledges. This way, if the people do not pledge "enough" then ministries get cut. If they pledge "extra" then the church can take on extra ministries. 

That kind of budget only works though if the church is serious about biting the bullet and will actually cut things if there's no money and/or add things if there is. This way the church membership sees a direct correlation between what they put in and what comes out. If you do it halfway, like some churches do, where they collect the pledges, but their budget is still based on what they "usually" do, then you'll just end up with people not making pledges and the whole thing will be a waste of time for everyone.

I'm not sure how to make the transition from our type of budget to the one I just talked about in an already established church, but I'm thinking about talking about it with the Council and seeing if we could head that way...any suggestions would be appreciated!

in His service,

 

Dan.

Praise God...I do share your excitement!!  Those are very significant breakthroughs for your congregation and the denomination.  I find it very interesting that the opportunities all seem to be focused on the younger generation.   Very encouraging signs - definitely not coincidence...keep us posted...you know, we need a blog for testimonies...God is moving and it seems with increasing speed and number of signs and wonders...let's make a remembering wall of what He is doing, and what He has done!

Karl, That is pretty amazing story of the Jesus at work. What a great example of community missions.

Thanks Karl for sharing. It just made my day special. Glory be to God!!

Ken

That's awesome, Karl! Sometimes God does blow us away with His faithfulness, doesn't He? Sometimes you just have to hold on for the ride and do the best you can and trust that God will lead the way.

Thanks for posting this Karl.  I definitely appreciate the depth and breadth of the questions for self and group analysis!  Great  job spurring us on! 

Great news! We did get *some* interim CIDA funds. http://www.crcna.org/news.cfm?detailid=3556&newsid=2565

Thanks to the two of you for these thoughts on a really important question about when and how to help the needy.   You might want also to take a look at this blog, just for the thought about mercy limiting mercy.   I was intrigued by Keller's concept and I think it is a handy way to summarize a lot of the excellent thinking in the book Terry is recommending, When Helping Hurts.  This book is one of the best of its kind that I know of....   developmental Christ-like thinking about how to be compassionate.

In our congregation we have started using (with much success and growing popularity)  PAR, an EFT program available through the denominational office.  I'm not sure if this is also available in the US, or if there might be a similar program like it. http://www.crcna.org/site_uploads/uploads/admintools/ParBrochure.pdf

Sorry for the delay in responding, but I just recently started paying attention to this forum and not just the blog.

I would encourage you to start out with Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) rather than online credit card donations. The fees associated with credit card donations may be relatively high for a small/mid-size church. My church has been using EFT for a few years and it has worked well (although not a lot people have participated). I recommend Vanco Services (http://www.vancoservices.com/), which provides EFT, website payments, and donations by text.

See Guidelinelines for Benevolence from Diaconal Ministries Canada at http://www.diaconalministries.com/resources/documents/guidelinesforbenev... . I also encourage you to study the book When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert - http://www.whenhelpinghurts.org/. Ministry training webinars based on the book are available at http://www.chalmers.org/when-helping-hurts/webinar/schedule.php.

I don't know the canidates. Is there anybody on there that is sick, disabled or poor? I think if want a fuller picture, someone  like that could balance out the predominate selection of healthy people. Being around crisis is different than experiencing it.

Ken

These are such good questions to be asking; dialog is difficult but necessary. Sometimes with difficult dialog it's good to establish together a process and rules for the dialog that can be agreed upon - for example, during this dialog we agree to treat everyone with respect; search for the truth rather than repeating lies; agree to disagree when needed; etc.

I've also found Soujourners a helpful resource in thinking about some of these issues. They have a campaign called, "What would Jesus cut?

Thanks for asking!

For those of you in or near Grand Rapids, you are invited to join one of these upcoming events.

A Conversation on "A Call for Intergenerational Justice: A Christian Proposal on the American Debt Crisis"
A panel discussion with Q & A, featuring Dr. Gideon Strauss, CEO, Center for Public Justice

Last week, the Center for Public Justice and Evangelicals for Social Action issued "A Call for Intergenerational Justice: A Christian Proposal on the American Debt Crisis".  

This event is co-hosted by Peter Vander Meulen, Coordinator of the Christian Reformed Church of North America Office of Social Justice and by Tom McWhertor of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee

Thursday March 10
Noon - 1:30pm
Erie Room of the Christian Reformed Church of North America Office Building

2850 Kalamazoo Avenue, SE
Grand Rapids
SE corner of 28th Street intersection, across from Meijer

Free and open to the public
Please bring your own lunch and plan to join the conversation
Questions? Contact Doreen Skillen at the Center for Public Justice, 410-571-6300

Opposing Views: America's Debt Crisis and 'A Call for Intergenerational Justice'
This event is hosted by the Acton Institute and features Dr. Gideon Strauss, CEO, Center for Public Justice and Jordan J. Ballor, Research Fellow at the Acton Institute.  Mr. Ballor has criticized the Call as demonstrating "very little principle" and consisting mostly of "leaps in logic based on unstated assumptions about the role that government should have" in providing social assistance.  The Action Institute invites you for a night of discussion about government debt, federal spending, and how faith communities should understand the responsibilities of social institutions in addressing the problem of poverty.

Thursday March 10
Derby Station
2237 Wealthy Street, SE
East Grand Rapids, 49506

6:00pm Grab a seat & beverage
6:30pm Discussion begins

Free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so the Acton Institute encourages you to arrive early.

Thanks for this post, Karl. I've actually raised the topic of the "Call" in relationship to the diaconate in a follow-up post today. The questions you raise are precisely the ones we ought to be asking.

My response to Terry would be: Yes, God does have a special concern for the poor, and all of these institutions have roles to play. My problem with the Call and other similar campaigns, e.g. What Would Jesus Cut?, is that they don't put enough emphasis on the roles institutions other than the federal government have to play.

There are a number of facts that can be quantified with real data:
- Less than 1% of the federal budget is used to fight poverty and disease in other nations. So making cuts in this area will have minimal impact to the federal budget deficit.

- Many of the international programs funded by the US save lives (e.g., malaria and AIDS treatment; bed nets to prevent malaria).

- Many domestic US programs (e.g., Earned Income Tax Credit, SNAP) are effective in assisting to lift families out of poverty and prevent hunger.

And I would hope that most Christians can agree that God has a special concern for the poor and that the church, individuals, non-government organizations, and the government all have a role to play in addressing this.

But facts aren't all that we need. I encourage everyone to become familiar with "A Call for Intergenerational Justice: A Christian Proposal for the American Debt Crisis" that Karl referenced in his original post ("issued a statement" link) and use that as a starting point for discussion and action.

My favorite explanation of the national budget is the Ben & Jerry's guy with the Oreo cookies. I think it's on YouTube.

Karl, I know we should be able to sit down and talk but right now people of opposing views are totally polarized to the point where we don't agree on the facts. We don't agree what the Bible is saying and what is even worse we don't believe in each other.

 What is needed is some truth, understanding and some trust in each other. Otherwise these conversations turn into fruitless attempts of convincing someone who doesn't want to believe anything but what they want to.

   Maybe we should have a truth gathering to just establish what are facts or fiction. There isn't a information source that I know of that everyone agree's is factual. or if it is what the data is saying. This confusion is by design of course to attend to various agenda's.

Thanks

Ken

Hi Lou, I like some of the idea;s that are expressed in the book although traditional church activities could could intergrated too.

Ken

Hey Hans, "long time no hear...." ?Que tal?

   Anyway, on the topic of which you write, and with reference to the question of roles and leadership, I'd like to have both your and Karl's review/evaluations of the book The Shaping of Things to Come, by Frost and Hirsch, out of Australia.   Or anyone else that has read it... talk about shaking up our paradigms.  Will what "emerges" still be "church"?

Lou

Here's a recent Banner article http://www.thebanner.org/news/article/?id=3117

Bro Karl, I thought more about my last comment and want to say that I do understand the need for members to 'push back' however I am beginning to 'hear', not push, back but honesty of expression. Over the last few decades my experience has been moving me to listening for straight forward expression rather than political correctness.

With honest of expression comes some hurt and misunderstanding. Yet suppression of honest expression or negative reaction to the same only boosts anxiety and frustration from haves and have nots. I pray for understanding before I react and often a little time and prayer reveals members' confusion and/or frustration with difficult discussions and change.

I hope I'm making some sense.

I understand your focus on the have on affluence. That is so prevalent today that the poor do not speak up. Affluent push back is  more cultural and political and economic with the pretense of 'the American dream is available to all' as a default statement.

Thanks Fronse, I agree about the sensitivity of the way you advocate for people. The push back I was referring to is not from the poor but misconceptions of the affluent and even the middle classes. That push back which assumes that opportunity  is available to everyone.

Thanks again

Ken

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