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The church is the sign of the Kingdom, and part of its task is to set out more signs, showing what that Kingdom is like and pointing the way.   Read about some signs of transformation.

January 24, 2011 0 2 comments
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GIven the recent news that CRWRC will experience a $1.1 million gap in funding this year due to loss of funding from CIDA, I was wondering if deacons/congregations are doing anything to address this particular need, beyond any normally scheduled offerings for CRWRC - scheduling additional...

January 21, 2011 0 5 comments
Discussion Topic

Saw this on Twitter and thought deacons would be the best group to participate - please fill out this short survey on social action in your church. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/S26TQ9Q

Thanks for your input! This information will help many West Michigan organizations engaged in justice...

January 19, 2011 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Data on CRC congregations and pastors from the Third Wave Report continues to nag at me.  It appears that routine feedback to pastors from their councils is a very valuable tool!  So, wouldn't you think we'd be doing that as one of our "disciplines"?  Regularly, everywhere?   Every church?  ...

January 18, 2011 0 2 comments
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I love to read stories about what other churches are doing in their communities - especially when they teach and inspire me to think about what MY church could do!  Stories can be resources by themselves AND they can lead the way to MORE resources - especially these stories from CFA!

January 17, 2011 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Let's face it, a good chunk of what deacons traditionally deal with is finances.  Whether it is promoting good giving, setting the budget, or overseeing ministries, in the great majority of churches in our denomination this falls squarely under the responsibility of the deacons.  Deacons, we are...

January 12, 2011 0 3 comments
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In the years that I've been observing deacons in the CRCNA, my impression is that we don't really expect much leadership from our deacons.  We have all kinds of reasons for this, but the fact is that it is the exception when deacons give intentional leadership to the congregation. 

January 11, 2011 0 1 comments
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You may be asking, “What does leadership have to do with my ministry as a deacon? Isn't it the elders and the pastors who lead by ruling?” The more common portrayal of deacons is: deacons are to serve by responding to others when called upon. Of course, there is the expectation that deacons will...

January 11, 2011 0 4 comments
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I want to tell you about a book about change that I think is unusually good - it's interesting, it's easy, it's funny, it's profound.  And it'll change how you think about change while offering endless ideas for how to use these insights to bring about change in "real life".  

January 4, 2011 0 0 comments
Q&A

In our congregation the deacons meet in November to set the offering schedule for the following year.  Using the deacon's helper resource, sifting through the pile of offering requests received throughout the year and sensing the heart of God in the congregation, they prayerfully discern what...

January 4, 2011 0 7 comments
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Every once in a while some angry prophet gets in my face, jerks me to attention, and pushes my nose into reality. I desperately want to get away. What I really need to do is trust and obey.

December 30, 2010 0 9 comments
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People just aren't as worried about my convenience and my schedule as they should be.  People aren't committed to making progress at my pace.  People aren't first of all concerned about how wonderful I am because I'm helping them.  But the Holy Spirit is at work. 

December 20, 2010 0 2 comments
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This book talks about relationships that are measured by whether friends have "refrigerator rights".  And that's only ONE of the delightful ideas you'll find. The subtitle of the book is "Moving From a Come and See to a GO AND BE CHURCH".  ..

December 14, 2010 0 0 comments
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Mary's song of hope becomes more challenging when it moves beyond charity for the poor to judgment: “…but he has sent the rich away empty.”  How are we to participate in the kingdom activity of sending the rich away empty? I can’t say I have ever heard a sermon about that.

December 6, 2010 0 0 comments
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Deacons often build their meetings around problems, needs, shortfalls, and concerns. In a way, that's their job, but the wise deacon has her attitude shaped by graceful abundance, rather than by anxious focus on the problems. So how can one deacon make a difference in how a meeting flows?

November 30, 2010 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

"Healthy distance protects us from false intimacy. It protects us from the illusion that we actually have relationships with people we've never met or with places we've never been. False intimacy is one of the great temptations of an age that prides itself on technology that eliminates distance...

November 29, 2010 0 1 comments
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Jesus said, "I am among you as one who serves."  The word he uses is the word for deacon.  This is the pattern of Jesus' ministry.  The attitude is as important as the behavior.  

November 22, 2010 0 1 comments
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Grace demands change; it holds us accountable.   How do we do that with fellow humans -- hold this balance between undeserved but conditional?  "Grace is undeserved caring that intercepts destructive behavior".

November 15, 2010 0 8 comments
Q&A

Our church is considering changing the fiscal year from a calander year to one that will coinside with other turnovers within the church, ie; election of officers, school year, ect.

  How has your church established it's fiscal year?  What are the pros and cons?  Why do you have it this...

November 3, 2010 0 2 comments
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Let's do everything we can to make this task force a delightful assignment for its members.  Will you help?  You can start with prayer; you can use the Deacons' Forum; you can respond when they ask for help; and you can talk to your fellow deacons and council members about this task force.  Let the deaconal revolution begin!  

November 2, 2010 0 4 comments
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Here's a church that has thought long and hard about the role of deacon.  Here's a job description that expresses that good thinking.   AND here's a job opening you need to check out!

October 26, 2010 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I just became aware of the site www.TakeThemAMeal.com which is a "free online tool for coordinating the delivery of meals to someone in need".

Has anyone used this site? It seems like it could be a real time-saver compared to doing it all by phone.

October 26, 2010 0 1 comments
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But Henk wasn't falling asleep. Just the opposite, he was having a moment of sharp worry, thinking about his friend whose home might be in foreclosure, thinking about his church, thinking about his denomination. Might as well worry big while you're at it!

October 25, 2010 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Here's a quote that just knocked me out.  I've been thinking a LOT about what it means to live a totally submitted life.

Simone Weil The love of our neighbor is the love which comes down from God to man. It precedes that which rises from men to God. God is longing to come down to those in...
October 20, 2010 0 1 comments
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Recently I heard Jay VanGroningen of CFA talk about “good neighbors” – and then he kicked it up a notch by asking:  And what makes a GREAT neighbor?  That got me to thinking.  We know what makes a good deacon…

October 19, 2010 0 1 comments

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Thanks, Jeff, for mentioning When Helping Hurts, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.  (Moody, 2009)   Its subtitle is "How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself".   I mention that because it's amazing how often our best intentions have "unintended negative side effects", and this book addresses that problem about as well as any I've read.

This book is readable, biblical, developmental, and comprehensive, and did I mention readable?   You don't need to be a scholar to get it.  It'll introduce you to basic understanding of what poverty is, and how the church can respond to it....   and it opens with one of the best stories I've ever read about wonderful good intentions and their surprisingly dismaying effects.

This book will also introduce you to ABCD - Asset Based Community Development.  ABCD is a tool that will sharpen all the other tools in your box.

If you've not read it, I recommend it.   And parts of it could be used to make great deacons' discussions!

Great news! Thanks for letting us know!

I was trying to listen to the synod feeds last week to see what was going to be decided about this...but you only have so much time to do that...so I'm glad that other people were watching to see what happened.

The potential of a committee like this is immense. I'm glad it was passed.

posted in: What Does It Take?

Yes. Terry W, you are the first to post the good news - Synod said Yes to the request to set up a task force to study the office of deacon. According to the denominational staff, suggestions are already beginning to come in for persons to serve on that task force. Along with many other important decisions on justice-related matters, this decision is another reason to thank God for the work of Synod 2010.

posted in: What Does It Take?

Today I heard from one of the delegates who attended Synod that this overture was approved by Synod.

posted in: What Does It Take?

I was wondering about that, too.

posted in: What Does It Take?

Does anyone know what Synod did with the overture on deacons? It was not reported on in the daily e-mail updates from CRC Communications.

posted in: What Does It Take?

At the Northern Alberta Diaconal Conference, Deacons are asked to share stories. Here they are!

~At Centrepointe, they now have 2 deacons, and hope to get a couple more soon. They have started to help people with moving, house reno’s, etc. They now make those services available for anyone in the community, including those who can pay, to help raise funds.
~Some members of The River have gone to meet with people in Zambia to get to know them & love them. They have seen huge results and changes in people who have been there, and the Zambians are getting comfortable now to ask for help with their projects. The River’s annual Serve fundraiser enables them to respond to local needs quickly, and to help people with unique, expensive needs. For example they were able to help someone with $10,000 in medical expenses.
~Woodynook is looking forward to celebrating its 75th anniversary in November, and they are in building mode. They are almost at the $1.5 million needed to start, so preliminary work has begun. Woodynook is evaluating their evening service, and ask for prayers for guidance in this matter. They have two new refugees coming as their current refugee family is asking them to support two additional family members. Woodynook is active in Neighbourlink in their community. There are three greenhouse operations which employ 15 Thai people. Deacons are very excited that they have found a person who can speak Thai, and are now offering Alpha in their language so that these Thai people can come to know Jesus.
~Joe asked for support for Diaconal Ministries Canada, as the support via denominational ministry shares doesn’t always come in. Joe mentioned that at the DMC meetings he has attended he has been so impressed with the commitment of the staff.
~Wolf Creek is searching for a pastor. Their young people went to Vancouver on an inner-city mission trip, and Wolf Creek is also very involved with Neighbourlink.
At Maranatha, they have an election for deacons coming up soon. The Karen refugees, with whom Maranatha has been involved for a long time now, are planning to rent a Baptist church, as they have outgrown the space in Maranatha. However, they still plan to worship at Maranatha in the mornings.
~Ottewell is involved in a visioning process whereby they have adopted core values leading to core practices, generating commitment from the congregation. They are planning an outdoor community worship service on June 13, starting with a pancake breakfast, and ending with a community information fair. As part of their year-round giving schedule, they are focusing on The Pregnancy Care Centre for May and June, involving the youth in the Walk for Life, and collecting baby items, as well as offerings. In July and August the focus will be Habitat for Humanity, with offerings as well as serving up several lunches to volunteers.
~Bethel-Lacombe is doing intentional giving over 5 Sundays. They started a big expansion to the church kitchen. Circle of friends has been very positive for them. The have been busy with the overture to Classis regarding seating deacons at Classis. They have not been made aware of many financial or other needs recently.
~At St. Albert, they are losing three deacons. Please pray that they get replacements. They had a SERVE team go to Vancouver, and will be starting a community garden. They also have a refugee sponsorship in progress. A year ago, the church was asked by Community Services to help with people who fall between the cracks. They, along with 5 other churches, joined “The Bridge” and are a centre through which community requests are funneled. They work out of the Food Bank. Bert mentioned that it would be really beneficial for all churches to be involved in this type of arrangement.
~At Covenant, they now have a second pastor, Ken Vis, who focuses on youth and education. They had a SERVE team go to El Paso, and a HANDS team going somewhere next year. Their programs are winding down, but find Vacation Bible School to be a good outreach tool. They are looking forward to church camp and have a community garden. They will be starting Compass 21 in the fall and are working on developing their Safe Church policy.. They find they have lots of families who need help, but still found time to have a senior’s supper.
~Bethel-Edmonton has a small diaconate. Their refugee family of 8 is doing well and is almost at the end of its year of support. There is some hesitancy in applying for jobs. If anyone has any leads on entry level jobs or house, please contact Linda Hofstede. Bethel will continue to support them until they can get on their feet. One of their refugees was to support a family member and has asked the church for help. Interesting calls for help come into the church, and the deacons are thankful for helpful connections. They are delighted that some of the folks they helped with Tax Time are now coming to church, and relationships are developing.
~First-Red Deer has an outreach program, and offered babysitting services at Christmas and help with spring clean up. They have lots of young people, and have Vacation Bible School (VBS) coming up, and are specializing on soccer after VBS.
- At Sonrise, they were sad to see their pastor Harry Zantingh leave, and are now searching for a new pastor. In the interim they are being served by Maurice Boonstra who has filled in for many pastoral vacancies. They are grateful for his ministry. Their programs are running well, and they are looking forward to a 25th anniversary.
~Hope had a neat evening last month when their missionaries to China, the Ten Harmsels, were in town. They sold tickets and raised an additional $400 by auctioning off great desserts!
~New Life Fellowship has a couple of girls who were in Haiti helping at an orphanage before the earthquake hit. They were asked to gather up clothes and other items which they did. Their youth did a Mexico trip and also had a bottle drive to raise funds for YC, but were gracious to give some of their bottles to a senior’s bottle collection. A disabled person who has been coming to church moved to a group home, and has invited his fellow residents and their care workers to come to church!
~First-Edmonton is still looking for a senior pastor. They hope to celebrate their 100th anniversary this fall. They had church campout at the end of May. The deacons are helping a family adopt two kids from Africa. The church has purchased the home next door and is soliciting ministry ideas for the property.
~At Ebenezer, plans are underway for a new church building. The stewardship team is endorsing Stewardship Initiatives, and had a “stewardship circle of chairs” meeting at Ottewell on May 20th with a hope to have more of the same in the future. Ebenezer is hosting a SERVE project.
~At Trinity, they now have a senior pastor and a pastor for the seniors in place, and are making plans for youth ministry. They are fundraising for the church building renovations. They have been asked to aid with refugees. Their pastor asked an elder and deacon to come to a profession of faith class to talk about being a church member. Several members are closely involved with the Mosaic Center outreach.
~In Neerlandia, they do “cross training” - their time of youth and adult education - at 10:00 on Sundays with worship service after that. They are in the process of setting up administrative and pastoral elders. They have a refugee family from Ethiopia. They support anyone who needs counseling.
~Terrence asked for prayerful thought to let your name stand for NADC executive, or if you know anyone with a diaconal heart who might stand, please let Henry or an Executive member know.
~Fellowship has a pastoral committee that provides the leadership and mercy ministry. Since they don’t have a full time pastor or a church building, those resources can be applied elsewhere. They try to support members in what they get involved with, for example refugee involvement. They get lots of participation from lay persons, and have been having 25-30 TKUC students attending, whom they are challenged to integrate. They have “Mobile Feet Sundays” with various groups doing service projects. They received a Worship Renewal grant and published the book Words for Worship, with liturgies written by some of their members. They have several families who have chronic financial issues.

William Heyns, writing in 1910 about the concerns and limitations of diaconal conferences, said this "without a doubt, the ideal solution is the delegation of deacons to the major assemblies with the power to deal with all matters brought before them that concern the ministry of mercy."

Synod 2010 is only a week away, and one of the issues that they will take up is the overture mentioned earlier. I wonder what the result will be.

In 1982, Prof. De Moor wrote in his "The Office of Deacon at the Crossroads", that "the proportion of representation (to major assemblies) soon proves to be an issue that uncovers one's deepest convictions concerning ecclesiastical office." He also wrote "somewhere along the way this denomination must do what Calvin couldn't--grant it's dedicated diaconate an appropriate place in all assemblies of office--bearers that rule and equip the body in Christ's name. It certainly must not reverse whatever has already grown in that direction. *This* is the lesson of history."

I'm excited about the opportunity before this Synod to reflect on the truth of these words.

Rebecca, you are right, and thanks for finding the reference. Sorry I neglected to include that!

posted in: What Does It Take?

I was interested to read this article, but had no knowledge of the referenced overture on deacons.

For reference, I believe this author is referring to Overture 16: Appoint a Task Force to Revise the Church Order Articles Related to the Office of Deacon which may be found beginning on page 678 of the Agenda for Synod 2010, a copy of which can be accessed from this page:
http://www.crcna.org/pages/synod_front.cfm

Please update if that is not the correct reference.

posted in: What Does It Take?

Deacons - Priests or Kings? I have a somewhat different take on this question about deacons that relates more to their ministry roles than their authority. In my experience, a diaconate functions best when different deacons are able to execute all three roles - prophets, priests and kings. In fact, I would go so far as to say that these three roles ought to determine what gifts need to complement the diaconate each time there are elections.

There are times when you need kings - deacons who are strong in administration, care about order, and deliberately chose structures that best serve ministry. There are times when you need prophets - deacons who are able to discern the Spirit's leading and boldly challenge complacency - both within the church and the neighbourhood. And, there are times, when you need priests - not only to build "bridges" between kings and prophets who will often be at loggerheads, but also to model a ministry of mercy and hospitality to those in the church and the community.

The whole report is on pp. 232-255 of the Acts of Synod, 1967. Its interesting that even though the recommendation was not followed, there was a long string of re-applications and requests in the 70s and 80s by those who were convinced of the larger role of deacon.

Also interesting are the other sources that they quote for the delegation of deacons to broader assemblies...like Herman Bavinck, Abraham Kuyper, who said in 1884 that the diaconal office "ought to be interwoven in the ruling organism of the Churches (that is, of Classes and Synods)", William Heyns who in 1928 had an entire chapter in his Handbook on Elders and Deacons called "The Unsatisfactory Condition of the Diaconate", and others.

We've been talking about this issue in our denomination for a long, long time.

What a great opportunity this motion could be, to look back as well as look forwards, and see what God might be calling us towards.

Hmmmm.... let's see. 1967. How prophetic was THAT?! 43 years ago. I was, ummm, a student at CTS. It's hard to imagine that this paragraph you quote comes from that long ago. Could it be a prohetic utterance spoken also to the church in 2010?

Karl,

Yes! Once more into the breach!

I've been thinking about deacons with my thesis for the last couple of years with this...did you know that already almost 100 years ago William Heyns thought that they should be delegated to the broader assemblies? People have been convinced of the wisdom of delegating deacons for decades...since 1967 this has been brought up in overture after overture, but has been voted down because it was not in line with "traditional" understandings of the diaconate. But I'm convinced that taking a fresh look at the office of deacon is critical in our emerging missional era. Hopefully others will be as well.

Thanks for pointing it out!

Karl,
Such good questions to ask ourselves as deacons. Thank you for the article and the challenges you put out there for us all.
We should concentrate on the exchange of the gifts idea you presented.
As a new deacon the time we share together is a time of helping each other learn of the gifts God has given all of us to use.

When we help each other grow our gifts and the gifts of our members we can better serve our entire community, the entire world! How exciting.
When we find the talents, and life challenges and spiritual paths that our members have going on now and of the past we show care and action.
As deacons we are learning how peoples values, emotions, dreams and visions take the form of Christ. Hopefully when people look at us they see Jesus.
I guess I can say I don't really know either but cant wait for the next month to come. Not for counting the money there is so much more. We will be one step closer to knowing a life of good stewardship in a way that glorifies God.

This is some fresh exegesis! I like it. It really helps undermine that sort of "second class citizen" syndrome so often associated with being a deacon!

posted in: Looking at Acts 6

I was also going to provide the videoplayer URL. You have to look to see the length. Some of them are appropriate to offertory. Others are adult class length. This area needs strengthening, which I am working on. Steve

posted in: Video Resources

Hi JT,

There are a lot of powerpoints on the CRCNA website:
http://www.crcna.org/pages/2min_ppoint.cfm but looks like they are sort of outdated.

This link will take you to more up to date resources:
http://www.crcna.org/pages/videoplayer.cfm

Here is a link to the current CRWRC DVDs:
http://www.crwrc.org/pages/crwrc_videos.cfm

One of our dilemmas as agencies is that video is more costly to produce than powerpoint, but churches seem to want videos. Any ideas? Any certain types of videos or powerpoints that are more helpful than others?

posted in: Video Resources

Paul, How about something like this --
What if the revitalization of the CRC depends like never before on deacons to show us how to answer the urgent needs in our communities? What if now is the moment to mobilize the denomination to do the deeds which will provoke the questions to which the Gospel is the answer? Is this the time for pastors, elders and deacons to SHARE leadership together, gathering the specific gifts and callings, and shaping the leadership team to respond to opportunities. Deacons would have a high profile in this mix these days I think. I'd go so far as to say it might be a kairos moment for deacons.

JT, Steve VS (works for WM) who hosts the missions page, and Wendy Hammond at CRWRC, and then the offices of BTGMI and Home Missions.... there are folks who would be happy to send you exactly what you are looking for. I'll mention this to them too.

posted in: Video Resources

I have attended all three "Christians & Money" conferences, and the one thing I noticed at each event was the incredible "buzz" during the breaks. The content is always thought-provoking, challenging, and inspiring, and the opportunity to connect with other church leaders to process what you just heard, or to discuss stewardship challenges in your church is truly unique.

Thank you all for sponsoring this 4th Christian and Money Conference! My husband, Stan and I had attended the 2nd Conference at the Prince Center once and it was very good and inspiring!

If we want to see the Lord Jesus come soon we need this kind of seminar which will encourage us all Christians to give our tithes and offerings faithfully to our churches so that our churches will have all the resources needed to fund the fulfillment of the Great Commission. I heard from the 2nd Christian and Money Conference speaker Dr. Rodger Rice that statistics showed (by Barna Group) that the average giving of the North American Christian is only 2 % and Calvin College Social Research Center showed that we at the CRCNA are only giving on the average of 4.5%. Come to think about it, if we are all going to be faithful in giving a minimum of the tithe (10%), then we will be able to reach the ends of the earth for Christ. Then the Lord Jesus will come already, wow, hallelujah!

Matthew 24:14 says, "And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." We still have around 1.5 billions of the world populations who have not heard of the gospel yet. Church members, we need your financial support to carry on this global mission.

I am very excited to hear again the findings of Dr. Roger Rice in his survey of the Good Steward Ministry sponsored by the Barnabas Foundation in cooperation with CRC churches. And to hear about the Stewardship Bible and the reports of experiences of the Good Steward Churches.

May God bless this 4th Christian and Money Conference with many attendees and many Christians who will be faithfully applying the lessons learned through this gathering. I pray that we at CRCNA and globally will all long to see the Lord Jesus face to face. To God be the glory!

Paul- I am sorry that Karl has been unable to respond to your inquiry. He is currently away from the office and will be able to respond when he returns (if not sooner).

Karl do you have any resources available such as a short paragraph to encourage members to consider being nominated as a Deacon?

There is no such thing as a "missional disciple". Disciples ARE missional. -- Ed Stetzer.

One great way to get started in planning an effective community ministry is the Communities First Association (www.communitiesfirstassociation.org)

They have helped so many CRC churches be salt and light in their own communities.

Hi Karl,
I just read this article (the church admin guide) and loved it! Thanks for sharing your great passion for deaconal ministry. Sheri Laninga

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