Have you ever had one of those days when you just want to throw in the towel and yell "ENOUGH - I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE!"?  Many of us have gone through that.  How is it possible to continue when you feel there is nothing left to give?

July 10, 2011 0 0 comments

Everything in our being craves shalom. This is why when we see people hurting, we want them to be free of their pain. We know it's not right. It's not what God intended. So, we try to rescue them, perhaps we even try to be their saviour... but is that what we're called to?

July 4, 2011 0 4 comments

The lights dim, a hush falls over the crowd, anticipation builds for the grand unveiling of… A NEW GUIDE FOR THE DEACONS NETWORK. Everyone waits, barely wanting to take a breath. The curtain lifts. It’s...

June 26, 2011 0 4 comments

What does it look like from THAT perspective?   You're going to find out.  The new deacon guide - it's a generational thing!

June 24, 2011 0 1 comments

Pentecost!  Synod!  These words go together – or they ought to!   And CHURCH, and INCARNATION.   And without the Spirit, what would incarnation be?  What could be more incarnational than...

June 14, 2011 0 0 comments

When it's transition time on the church council, how can it be as smooth and as affirming as possible?    Relief for the tired retirees and honor for the incoming new members are just not adequate marks of transition! What does your council do to make transitions healthy and as pleasant as possible?

June 6, 2011 0 0 comments

It seems like there is a leadership crisis in many of our churches, specifically relating to our council roles of deacon and elder. Many congregations are struggling to find individuals who are able or willing to step into these roles. What’s going on? Why is this happening?

June 1, 2011 0 4 comments

Some of us thrive on turmoil, unanswered questions, and unclear directions.   Most of us don't.  How can we be effective leaders in our respective roles when our own anxieties are snapping at our heels?  

May 23, 2011 0 1 comments

"Diaconia Remixed" is a new task force to revitalize and rethink the role of deacons in the Christian Reformed Church. Can you help us as we get started?

May 17, 2011 0 0 comments

One of the things that has stumped me as a Deacon is trying to translate the broad descriptions of the office of Deacon into practical tasks that will support that vision. I realize that the "to do" list of a deacon will vary quite a bit depending on each churches culture, needs and community. I...

May 16, 2011 0 4 comments

Unemployment! Can deacons help? In this economy, and in many communities, our churches come in contact with job seekers. What can deacons do?  The church is not an employment agency, but deacons can be a powerful resource to support discouraged job seekers...

May 10, 2011 0 0 comments

Does your church congregation vote on the annual church budget?  Church Order is really vague and church practice seems to be extremily diverse.  If your congregation votes on the budget how do they become familiar enough with it to "own" it.  Thanks..

May 5, 2011 0 4 comments

"...the more we pursued spiritual formation, the more we were convinced that Christlike people intentionally reach out to those who are ignored, forgotten and marginalized....  We make room for them... because this is what Jesus did."

May 3, 2011 0 0 comments

"Who today is the focus of [the deacons'] task? Our church order and ordination form emphasize the necessity of addressing widening circles of need that center in the congregation. Is this a good distinction for us to be making? Do we run the risk of ignoring greater needs because we see only

April 26, 2011 0 0 comments

What would make a “persuasive listener”? Well, obviously it’s someone who has already listened well to God’s leading and is listening from within God’s presence.  Listening from within God’s presence would attune me to the Spirit’s leading and discerning.

April 18, 2011 0 0 comments

You know there is a topic that NEEDS to be discussed. You WANT it to be addressed. And you KNOW it'll cause tension, stress and maybe bad feelings if you bring it up. What to do? Leaders in our congregations need to know how to help the membership deal with difficult topics in fruitful and safe ways. It can be 

April 11, 2011 0 0 comments

God seems to be offering our congregation a remarkable set of exciting opportunities in the past year.  It's certainly not that we've been working so hard to cultivate this particular set of events!

April 4, 2011 0 3 comments

Want a handy way to run a pre-flight check before serving as a deacon? Want to start a good discussion with fellow deacons? Want to have a discussion at deacons' meeting about "how we're doing"? Here are a few thought-provoking questions!

March 28, 2011 0 1 comments

When we relate the Jesus stories to our economic behavior, we do not find obvious and easy applications.  And so we act as a community of discernment - testing our answers and our applications together.   We need each other for this vital task.

March 21, 2011 0 0 comments

Our church receives a lot of requests for assistance. We regularly make food dishes and food and gas vouchers available.  We make funds available to help pay bills.  The requests for assistance come for our members, friends/neighbours of our members and from those outside our church.  As deacons...

March 19, 2011 0 2 comments

What if deacons across the denomination began to brainstorm and dialog together about how to strengthen the office of deacon?  What if we blew down the mail box of the deacon task force with great ideas, incisive questions, and vivid stories?  

March 14, 2011 0 0 comments

I have Jesus-following friends who disagree – strongly – about what the national budget should look like.  I have conflicting convictions within myself! But does it have anything to do with deacons?

March 7, 2011 1 7 comments

A need, a hunger, a challenge, a deadline....  what reasons would YOU add to this list of reasons why it's good to be a deacon NOW?   I've come up with only 6!   Who will see my six and raise me at least one?

March 1, 2011 0 0 comments

We deacons are in a leadership role and as such our job is to empower, prepare, nurture and disciple our congregation to go out into the world and do the real work of the church. How do we do this?  

February 21, 2011 0 0 comments

Within minutes my guts started to knot up as he discounted what others were saying in order to push his ideas on the group. Leaders need to listen – nowhere more than in the Church 

February 7, 2011 0 1 comments



What can God's people offer each other when there is deep deep pain? Dr. Joel C. Hunter writes in the November, 2010 Sojourners about the pain of losing his five year old grand daughter to cancer.  He writes: "It is startling to experience how present God was (and still is) through those whom God sent to love and encourage us."  He suggests that we can learn about a new kind of power - the power of compassion.  Dr Hunter concludes:  "If you have ever wondered if acts of kindness really make a difference....  Compassion is never wasted.  It has the power to give us hope, but also somehow to remind us that goodness and mercy do follow us all the days of our lives and that we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

posted in: mercy

Hi Karl,

I agree that there is healthy diversity on the task force team. I'm just a little suprised that Diaconal Ministries Canada - resourcing and encouraging deacons for over 50 years - has no staff representation on the "team"!


We are all called to be deacons as a fruit of our faith. Remember in Jesus's church a deacon is a soldier in the battle for hearts and souls. The elder is a weathered deacon.

I hope I didn't offend anybody but it's quite clear in the Scripture and my heart. Elders are a treasure of different type and should be known for their wisdom and willing to open up and share their wisdom.  

I know those aren't explained this way  but that is what I feel.


posted in: Looking at Acts 6

It's true, when you are completely broken to the point you need Jesus to be tangible and Holy Spirits wisdom.Your faith becomes child like in that every thing loses nuance and you live hour to hour. All of sudden your in complete peace( or Shalom) and bubbling with wisdom. You want to share joy but they have to understand the suffering that seems to be a constant companion or motivation. 

thanks,  Ken

posted in: God's Love

Dear Karl, As a layman, I was always reminded that our first ministry is to our family. Should our Deacons have the same approach with the church body being our family? I thinf the Deacons should start there, then incorporate the people to help the Deacons with their external mission. Deacons should be leaders with help of people in the church. Get everyone involved for it will instill the sense of giving to the people.  I think church budgets would benifit because people would see their own blessings in a new light.


Here are the typical minutes of a Diaconal Conference Board meeting. I removed / replaced most names for privacy reasons.




Minutes of the board meeting held January 21, 2010 at Ebenezer CRC, Leduc, AB

Present: Deacon, Pastoral Advisor, West End; Deacon, First-Edmonton; CRWRC Rep, Deacon, Covenant-Edmonton; Refugee Coordinator, Fellowship; Deacon, Trinity; Deacon,NADC Admin, Ottewell; NADC Exec, Deacon Bethel-Lacombe; Deacon, NADC Exec, Ebenezer; NADC Exec, Neerlandia; DMC/NADC staff, Deacon, Inglewood; Deacon, DMC Rep, Woodynook; DMD, Wolf Creek;

Absent with notice: 3

*Denotes Action Required

1.       OPENING: Chair read from II Kings 4:9, noting that our lives are a powerful witness, then opened with prayer.

2.       AGENDA: was approved with one addition

3.       INTRODUCTIONS: Self introductions were made

4.       MINUTES: The minutes of Sept 10/09 were received as information

5.       NADC EXECUTIVE: There are two openings for members of Executive. If you are interested, or know anyone who might be, please let Henry, or any Executive member know.  Interested persons need not be serving deacons, but must have a passion for diaconal work. It is necessary to fill these positions in order to keep the NADC functioning, which is very important to the ongoing success of the various projects NADC undertakes, as well as communication and support among the deacons.

6.       TREASURER'S REPORT: DMC/NADC staff reported that the final quarter report was received from the Classical Treasurer (attached), and indicated that it contained no surprises.    

7.       CRWRC:

·         CRWRC Rep distributed a letter from Henrietta Hunse regarding relief work in Haiti. CRWRC's work will be focused in Leogane.  He noted that donations can be made for immediate relief, which will be matched by the Canadian government 1-1;  or for development work, which may be matched 2-1; or donations can be designated to where most needed. He stressed that the website is updated regularly, so for most recent information, go to  He noted that a powerpoint presentation and bulletin insert are available from the website.

·         He noted that 2009 was not good financially for CRWRC, with aid to all countries being cut by 10-15%, and 10 staff persons were laid off, with a 20% pay cut for remaining staff. This could result in some strain on CRWRC's relations with CIDA, if confidence is eroded.

·         the AIDS awareness campaign went very well.

·         Thanks for ongoing support of CRWRC!


·         NADC Staff reported that the Day of Encouragement went well, registrations were up a bit, the inclusion of the youth workshops was very well received, and evaluations indicated that the day was a blessing for those who attended.

·         Next DOE:  Deacon asked if we could invite each church in Alberta South, as their DOE was cancelled. The answer is yes, and this will be taken up in the planning committee, which is in the process of being formulated. This suggestion may come back to the Board for approval at the May meeting. NADC Staff reported that Ron DeVries, Youth Ministry Consultant for Classis Alberta N. would like to be involved in the planning, and it would be good to have Home Missions representation as well.


·         DMD has been very busy with new deacon workshops, which she did at the DOE and in several  churches. She will be doing a circle of chairs soon. She just returned from a DMD gathering in Burlington.

·         NADC Staff said that the Edmonton area churches can call DMD for any training, or to invite him to your deacon meetings. He is also planning a circle of chairs meeting soon.

10.   DIACONAL MINISTRIES CANADA (DMC): DMC board and Operation Manna meetings are scheduled for the near future. DMC has also experienced some financial constraints, as income from above- ministry- share-offerings is down.  Operation Manna (OM) funding through offerings experienced a decline which resulted in a reduction of funding to the OM projects. DMC staff and the OM committee  have initiated a review of the OM program, including income streams.


·         REf Coor reported January 6/10 CRC news had an article on how CRCNA helps refugees. Rose Dekker made sure Bethel CRC (Edm) family and existing filings by Fellowship, West End, Maranatha and St Albert were mentioned.

·         CRWRC's web page on Refugee Settlement now contains links to other sites.

·         Deacon (West End) contacted Ref Coor. She works for Brendan Institution specializing in helping professionals with post secondary degrees seeking suitable job placement and career paths.

·         NADC Staff distributed a letter from Rose Dekker and Rebecca Walker, CRWRC Refugee staff (attached).


·         NADC Staff distributed his report (attached) and commented on some hi-lites:  Jose Ramon's visit; church planting conference in Calgary with Michael Frost who emphasized that God is a sending God, sent His word to create, sent his Son to save, sent the Holy Spirit to empower, and sends us to do His work.

·         DANC Staff reiterated that it is important to keep the Conference (NADC) alive, as others have folded, but if  we see benefit in having the Conference, we must work to keep it going. There are 4 areas of focus: three  Board meetings per year; Honduras Water Project; the Kenya Project ;  and the NADC office(contact point/dissemination of information/administration of other areas).

13.   STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEES: Rep asked if other churches have them, and suggested a circle of chairs meeting combined with stewardship committee members. He is interested in getting a dialog going among churches who have a stewardship committee and possibly invite guest speakers, so if your church has one, could you* please get a member of your stewardship committee to contact Norm at

14.   KAREN REFUGEES: NADC Staff advised that he received a call from CRC member, who said there are lots of Karen refugees who would like their kids to go to the Christian school, but cannot afford the extra fees.  Maranatha CRC is working on a proposal to provide some financial assistance to these families. This should be ready to be presented at the May meeting.

15.   KENYA PROJECT: NADC staff thanked the churches for continuing to take offerings, and advised that some funds were released to a former partner on an emergency basis during the drought. They were also able to offer some assistance to a reconciliation process after tribal clashes, as well as some health assistance. The mobile clinic is busy with immunizations, clinics, etc. The Participatory Rural Assessment has gone well.

16.   HONDURAS WATER PROJECT:  bulletin announcements have gone out for our 16th water project. NADC Staff advised that costs have increased, and it would be good to have a better balance between the cost to get the team there and what is spent on the project. Project costs are what offerings are used for. If we did not support the projects, they would not happen. Deacon moved that NADC increase our financial support to $1200 per person (from $1000) to a maximum of 12 people (or $14,400). CRWRC Rep seconded the motion, and it was carried. For clarity, the purpose of the increase is not to reduce what team members have to pay in, but to increase what is contributed to project costs.

17.   SHARING & CARING:  A time  of round table sharing was enjoyed by all. Details of the concerns, joys, happenings will be published in the next Network News.

18.   CLOSING: pastoral Advisor closed the meeting with prayer.

Next Board Meeting: 7:30 on Thursday, May 6, 2010 in Ebenezer CRC, Leduc 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He's going to be up all night anyway.            ~Mary C. Crowley                 

great idea! I know friends who are expecting would love this, so I'm not sure this really fits under "deacons."

Karl or aguilla1,

Would you have examples of Diaconal Conference agendas, speakers, topics, etc...that would be helpful in setting up a conference?  I think that one existed in our classis back in the 80s but ceased operating some time ago.  No idea where the information would even be found.  Do you meet monthly or quarterly?

the Diaconal Conference for Alberta North Classis meets just outside Edmonton Alberta and deacons within a two hour drive usually makes the meetings. That does exclude a few churches to the north of us within 6 hours drive.  Having both city and rural based deacons at the same meeting is very helpful. We can learn from each other!

I would tend to agree with these three.  We as deacons are striving this year to become more connected with our congregation though direct contact, being available and being visible.  This is something that we have identified as being very important in plugging into our role as leaders in all facets of stewardship.

Also, I am very glad to see the comment on an "eye for gifts".  There are so many resources other than financial available in the church.  Its nice to provide benevolent funds to a widow that has a flooded basement, but how much better is it to connect that person with a church member who is an electrician or contractor, and a youth small group willing to do cleanup, and an organized member to help with planning.  What a vibrant church we could have if we all worked together and made these connections in this way!  So we are striving to identify not only the needs in our congregation and community, but the resources available to help meet those needs.  Especially during times of economic difficulty.

Finally, enough cannot be said about prayer.  None of these good or great deacon attributes are effective without His support. 

Thanks Karl!


-matt bulthuis, deacon

Faith CRC

Jeff, your comment is right on ....  yes, diaconal work is SO contextual (or should be)!  That's a key point, and yes, the variety of communities and congregational settings makes it hard to get on the same page.  I wonder how others have handled this.

I wish so hard that congregations could support each other more in diaconal work, learn together, and even when appropriate develop cooperative ministry.   Yet sometimes it's even hard to get folks from the same congregation on the same page!

This is a great opportunity for me to say that there is another dimension of The Network being developed - networks of regional resources IN REGIONS where CRC congregations are present.   This dimension is intended to complement and further expand the networking that is online.  We are experimenting in a half dozen regions, to see if we can instigate some inter-congregational networking where that is not happening and where it would be helpful.   Your comment on how diversity in congregational settings makes that hard reminds me that sometimes what we might need is "affinity" networks, not just geographical ones.  How might your congregation, for example, find others who are in similar circumstances and have similar challenges and opportunities?  And how might you get in touch for encouragement, learning, intercession, and the like?   What do you think?   Could I be helpful in that, wearing my Network Developer hat?

But wouldn't you say that diaconal conferences work best in a classis where the churches are in pretty close proximity to each other?  My classis encompasses an entire state.  Other classes are even larger, stretching over more than one state.  And since diaconal work is so contextual, it's hard to get people together on the same page, harder when some work in urban and some in rural areas. 

I cannot imagine your loss or spiritual battles you would  be requred to fight. I see Jesus has provided you divine perspective about who Sarah is and her inspired wonderful approach to life and death. You will be with her again.

God Bless you for honoring me with Your story. It speaks like any sermon and blesses us who can relate. Thanks Karl

kelib, you DID give me a hug with your note!  Thanks!   Humble loving actions are at the heart of the Christian life, and you nailed it.  LOVE is the greatest of these!!   

One year ago on November 1 my 38 year old daughter went to be with Jesus in heaven.  She had leukemia.  Oh how we miss her.  She was beautiful inside and out with a loving nature.  She had a sharp tongue too, but always admitted it and asked for forgiveness.   sometimes the sharpness was both painful and funny.

Why do I share this here?  Because when I think of her life, I see so clearly that her daily walk was a humble one, a loving one.  Not dramatic, not spectacular, not outstanding in any way.  She used to say, "I love my life."   And it was a simple life.  She learned, especially in her 21 month journey with leukemia, to love the blessings she experienced in every day ways.  She loved looking out of the hospital window at fall colors.  She arranged her room to be "homey".  She took great joy in her cats whenever she got to be at home with them.  And she loved her husband and her friends and her parents.

I celebrate Sarah's life.  I celebrate the presence of God's grace in her - her faith, her dignity, her unshakable steadiness, her trust that her life was in God's hands.  These are the "eternal verities" , kelib, and she "got it"; you get it too. My wife has a great gift of contentment.  I'm learning it - slowly.   I pray that the daily reminders of God's goodness that we experience in the "dailiness" of our lives will become more and more visible to us, and that we will continue to bless each other by our faithful testimony to his steadfast love, which endures forever!

Thanks!  Yes and Amen.  The kind of Deacons Conference you describe is wonderful for training,encouragement, spiritual growth, and collaboration.  I also agree that deacons belong at classis and synod.  I'm very hopeful that the newly named deacons' task force will address this issue.  I'll have more news about that as soon as its membership is all confirmed and the news is public.   The assignment from synod gives us all a great opportunity to think in fresh ways about the office and role of the deacon.  

A few observations:

Some classis have "Diaconal Conferences where deacons get together 3 or 4 times a year to share their work and to network, discussing common areas and at times develop projects shared among many churches. Training for new deacons is also an ongoing task.

At the same time, deaconal concerns are rarely dealt with at classis/synod with many deacons present. Discussions can easily go off track. 

In order to balance discussions and deliberations, many people are trying to figure out how to increase deaconal representation at Classis and Synod without increasing delegate count by 33% which would make decision making even more cumbersome and frustrating.

If deacons feel isolated, unappreciated and untrained, perhaps the first attempt to correct this is to establish a local Diaconal Conference.


Thanks Karl, You are so correct. I'm totolly broken, sick, lonely and totally reliant on Jesus and his promises. God prodded me to become  humble and open so he can use me. It's been exciting and heartbreaking to be in God's service. Karl You are the first person to read between my poorly chosen words and dubious methods to see what God has placed on my heart. I could hug you! This isn't about me per se but about what the Jesus told us to due and how you can accomplish this with being humble and acting out of Love.  My christian brothers, we so easily trust knowledge at the expense of God's wisdom as explained by Jesus, Love God above all else(including religiousness) and Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus made this summary of law distinctly simple. 

Thanks Karl, I have a favor to ask. Could you please continue push these obervations here. I'm to ill equiped to represent God the way He should be. God has told me that his grace is  a enough for any of us and there are no small parts in his Kingdom building!   God bless you

Dear kelib,

You are certainly right that people are not living for the BOT decision!  I know that there is pain that makes BOT decisions seem silly and irrelevant.   I know it's a time of joblessness, and loneliness, and illness, and being without insurance,and wondering whether anyone cares.  I know that there are plenty of people in our world who couldn't care less what the decision makers in the CRC do or don't do.

You, kelib, know about pain.   I read between the lines and I hear your heart.   You are hurting and the BOT decisions seem useless.   Where is comfort ?  Where is real mercy?

kelib, when you open your heart just a little bit, and let the hurting show, you take a big risk.  You  know that.  You risk being misunderstood, and you risk rejection.  You risk more pain.   I'm sorry that is true.   At the same time, I don't know how you can find mercy and friendship and healing unless you DO take the risk.  God's people are called to be a healing community, a community of love and grace and mercy.  I pray that may be your experience, and I pray that you won't pull back when the pain is great.  May you find the kind of deacons who will come around you with arms of love in the name of Jesus.   No one deserves less than that, and everyone has a need for that, no matter how much it may look like we have our lives all  together.


posted in: mercy

Have them talk to the members one on one with humble hearts and a open minds. You will be busy for years. I'm being serious!

Maybe not the BOT decision specifically, but I do hear from many in diaconal work who are wondering what will happen, how we can transform the office of deacon to be more effective and seen as more than a precursor to becoming an elder someday. How can we make deacons of everyone in the church, not just those with the official title? We are all called to such ministry.

I hear what you're saying, kelib.

But that's the wonderful thing about God.  He uses ordinary people in the process.   From Nathan saying "You are the man", to a tired old shepherd crying "Let my people go!" to a Samaritan walking by,  he brings us into the story and gives us the incredible dignity of being used as his instruments.  Ordinary people.  Extraordinary God.  Amen?

posted in: mercy

I know you guys mean well, but restoration is in Gods hands and timing. The other thing about mercy. I think of mercy as empathy to the piont of action.

posted in: mercy

I sorry, but I think most people's lives consist of more than thinking about "The Bot Decision ".

Hi, Kelib, I think your question refers to Jeff's comments about  mercy having a goal of not just relief but of restoration.  I'm sure Jeff will want to respond to you, but in the mean time I wanted to say something as well.   Our world is broken by sin, and the effects of that are deep.  The breaks are bad.   Sometimes restoration can be only partial, or even totally impossible.  What to do?

I think that showing mercy can sometimes be a healing practice even though restoration as we hoped and prayed doesn't happen.   God's mercy, as shown by and through his people, can accomplish surprising things - that is a matter of trust!  So it's a sign of the Kingdom, and those to whom it is shown can read it whether or not it accomplishes "restoration" as we envisioned it.

posted in: mercy

What would you do if restoation is not likely?

posted in: mercy

The previous post on the operationsharing foodbank was by John KleinGeltink.    I posted it for him, but I neglected to include his name.  Very sorry, John!

Good thoughts.  I will forward this to my fellow deacons.

Excellent book.  Stops the enabling approach - gets at the problem approach and stops the "give" just because we think that is the answer to poverty and problems.

Judy De Wit

posted in: Great Resource

 For those wanting a taste of When Helping Hurts, the webinar I'm doing on October 6 will provide an overview on some of the key principles.

posted in: Great Resource

 Hi Kathy!   You are welcome!   Thanks for writing it.   

 Thanks for posting this, Karl!  I hope it is helpful and encouraging to many deacons.

I guess when I think of mercy there seems to be an inward and an outward part of it.  The inward part is compassion, learning to feel as God does, being moved by the things that move his heart in terms of human brokenness.  The outward part is the action taken.  I think that it's important to have a a goal not just of relief but of restoration when being merciful, however.  I think that unifies some of the tasks of the deacon.  So for instance, "stewardship" is not something that you do inside the church and "benevolence" something for a different type of person...instead, all of our benevolent efforts should in the end be pointing towards stewardship, towards a place where the person being helped can claim their identity as a steward, using their own resources for the good of others and God's kingdom.  The goal in both is shalom.

In terms of the teaching, I guess I think of the adage, "the deacons are not there to do the work of the people, the deacons are there to put the people to work!"  A thread will not make it through a peice of fabric unless its attached to a needle.  In the same way, the deacons are often the people who draw others into works of benevolence, taking the lead but not taking over. 

posted in: mercy

"... all of our benevolent efforts should in the end be pointing towards stewardship, towards a place where the person being helped can claim their identity as a steward..."

I really like that, Jeff!  This is a wonderful way to think about the work of the deacon.... it's a ministry of "accompaniment", walking along side of people, building relationships of mutuality and reciprocity, enhancing the ability of both partners to live the lives God intended - restorers and stewards of SHALOM.   Sometimes the partnership is with church members, and sometimes with community folk.  sometimes with the rich, and sometimes with the poor.

This is beautiful, and also challenging!   Is this what deacons get to do, by God's grace?   What an honor we have.

posted in: mercy

 Thanks Terry!  Yes, I agree this looks like an excellent resource.  I appreciated the book SO much.

posted in: Great Resource

 The old book by Jay VanGroningen Changing Times, New Approaches talked about how to transition. Not sure if it's still available through Faith Alive as it looks like it's been replaced by The Deacon's Handbook.

I notice you're in Grand Rapids; you might check with Volunteers In Service to see if they have any resources that can help.

The "When Helping Hurts Ministry Training" Webinar Series at also looks like a great resource. This is based on the "When Helping Hurts" book by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert of the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College.

posted in: Great Resource

 I guess I wasn't paying attention!

Now that we're (back) on the topic, I can't resist the temptation to say a little more about this new kind of leadership.

I'm wondering if (church) leaders are finding themselves in crisis mode more often because church leaders, perhaps more than most any other group, tend to be (self) selected for their ability to lead in situations of continuity.  Typically leaders are leading in one of three types of situations - growth, continuity, contraction.  I think the CRC and its congregations was for some decades a prime example of an institution experiencing continuity. In more recent decades the pace of change has picked up rapidly, and has become a threat in many areas.  Yet we have a predominance of leaders who are most gifted to lead continuity, AND we have a culture that makes it very difficult for leaders who are wired to lead in situations of growth.

So what kind of leadership is needed in this emerging denominational scene?  Perhaps it could go without saying that it's going to require a passionate commitment to follow Jesus.  Then  I'm theorizing it's going to be people who are first of all characterized by competence and integrity.  They are going to have to know what to do and they are going to have to be willing to do it.  Their behavior will be marked by deep love and rich wisdom.  They will be willing to take responsibility - in humility and strength.   They'll be people who are trustworthy and who build a safe and trusting place around them.

This kind of behavior will be characterized by high reciprocity and exchange of gifts to achieve shared ends, and it'll be patient with opposition without being paralyzed by it.  This kind of behavior will be attractive; it'll be invitational; it'll be Gospelized behavior.  and it will influence others.

That's what I imagine organic and non-hierarchical leadership to look like.   

Disclaimer: I work for The Network, and these views represent no one but me.


posted in: Spider Deacons

 Hi Karl:

You just finished describing it in Spider Deacons and had  "I saw “organic” instead of hierarchical." I simply rearranged your own words.


posted in: Spider Deacons

 What does it look like?  Can you describe that a bit more so we can catch a glimpse?   It sounds really attractive, and I am trying to picture it in a council room.   

posted in: Spider Deacons

 Don't you mean, "Reformation is so last millennium?" ;)

Count me in as noticing the first sign and watching for further info. I hope you'll continue to use this space to keep us posted on this task force. Thanks!

 I like "non hierarchical organic leadership"

posted in: Spider Deacons

Here's a question that I'm wondering about as a result of reading Peter Block's book COMMUNITY, and reading Synod 2010 decision on Overture 16:

What behaviors will I engage in today that contribute to the changes in the deaconate that I long for?

Sign me up!

Your question reminds me of my own wrestling with Micah 6:8. Just what is justice, and what is mercy and how in the world do they relate? Some days I really get it; most days not so much.
How does this sound? Taking care of people who are hurt by the ways things are - that's mercy. Setting things right so people aren't getting hurt - that's justice.
How to teach this? I have a few ideas, but nothing that's fresh and wonderful! I think the more people get to really know and spend time with hurting people, the more their passion for mercy and justice is kindled. But there also have to be some support systems, places to process feelings and new insights, opportunities to engage, connect, relate.... Safe places to confess.... skills and information.... practice new behavior.... Does this sound right? I have the feeling I'm still not quite in tune with your question.

posted in: mercy

I wonder if you've put your finger on a "polarity" in our culture.... seems to me that we are very good at building organizations and institutions that embody our values. And maybe we are less adept at the personal relationship building that expresses those same values. Peter Block, in his book Community, talks about how institutions tend to be very efficient and good for providing "service", but for caring and compassion, not so good. For that he talks about "associations" which are much more relational, less heirarchical, and totally voluntary in their most basic DNA. It is (only) thru associations, he claims, that true and lasting change happens in people and communities. What tools do we have to help us better manage this "polarity"? I think that at the personal level we need to improve our "personal discipling" capacities and at the neighbor/ community level we need to moderate our passion for programs and increase our capacity for being "Kingdom community change agents". There are lots of resources in both these categories, but we often don't think of them in connection with "deaconing". Am I on your wave length? am I in your same garden patch?

posted in: A Deacon Reflects

The picture your story painted in my head is; sad, wonderful, inspiring and powerful. The responses to your story sheds some light on the difficulties for the "church" to be that joy filled, standing on your tip toes in celebration and praise kind of church.
The question your picture raises to me is how to make it different? When a person becomes a deacon they need to or are expected to complete the tasks set before them. In order to do that they need to continually be seeking to be fed in their own life by the Holy Spirit. The deacons are now committing their time and resources to many people in and out of the church.
Now they are expected to go to seminars, workshops and small groups to learn how to be a better deacon. Talk about overload.
What about training potential deacons? Training on top of an already huge commitment seems too much, the straw perhaps, which can and often does create a negative atmosphere.
If the churches looked ahead to their young adults or new members and started with a serious educating process focused for potential deacons this might help to build a solid frontline of Deacons who are ready and equipped to serve.
The military sends all of it's new soldiers to "Boot Camp" for training, then they send them to the battlefield. Can you imagine dropping a person into the battlefield without teaching them how to use their weapons for defense or attack?

posted in: A Deacon Reflects

Hi Karl,
You know that posting comments to others' observations are not my cup of tea, but I want to make a remark on the previous. From my observation more and more deacons are willing to step into a helping relationship with people in need. They are indeed getting better at developing holistic "institutional responses" - and by doing so find themselves face-to-face and heartbeat-to-heartbeat with people they can help. Many deacons I know are active in a personal way. By walking along with people in need, assisting in basic needs, advocating for just solutions, they often find their actions are of mutual benefit. Whether sitting down with folks to share a community meal, or finding congregational partners to provide free tax preparation, or finding an apartment for a hard-to-house immigrant family, or mentoring a refugee family, or weeping with a family who lost a loved one, I am so very grateful for the deacons who serve with love and integrity. Up here north of the 49th, we spend a considerable amount of time encouraging and equipping our deacons. There's lots of good written materials, electronic and otherwise, for deacons to equip themselves.

posted in: A Deacon Reflects

Karl, your poetic and flowery verbiage obviously didn't register well with the first respondent.
Since I know you well (we are out of the same green house/flower bed) I worked through it, and you have a point. Here is mine:

For quite some time I've had the feeling that our deacons - and here I have to say that the focus is Classis Holland - are good at starting and maintaining institutional type responses
to specific needs (example, My Brothers/Sisters houses) but less so at equipping themselves for the very concrete one to one needs around, both in and outside the congregations.

What does deaconal leadership at the denom level have to help overcome that?

posted in: A Deacon Reflects