The Diakonia Remixed Preliminary Report

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Diakonia Remixed: Office of the Deacon Task Force has completed its preliminary report. They are now looking for feedback from as many sources as possible (before June 30th). Are you curious what it says? You can view the whole report online at the Diakonia Remixed website.  If you follow that link you'll find the report outline and you can click and view the various parts of the report.

The Task Force would particularly like to have input about the following areas:

  • Guiding principles
  • Church Order articles
  • Church Order supplements
  • Form for the Ordination of Elders and Deacons

As I was reading over the changes, I was particularly appreciative of the report's tone. Throughout the Church Order Articles there is an echo of the theme "equipping people to build up the church", which I believe is a positive way of reminding us that we are the church, we are all to be participating in the furthering of God's kingdom and we need to be taught how.

There has also been a change to a number of the Articles that create the space for elders and deacons to function as a team, and hold each other accountable. One example is Article 35b, where church order is changed so that the consistory also reports to council on its business. This one in particular struck a chord with me, as when I was in council it seemed odd that the deacons would submit a regular update on the work they had done and were doing, while the elders would not. In the deacon's report names were not included, and I wouldn't expect the elders to breach confidentiality, however, I think it is helpful for the deacons to have a sense of what is going on with the membership of the community, as they are also leaders in the congregation.  All of this builds a cohesive team, serving together, able to pray for each other and supporting one another.

Another interesting change is found in Article 45.  This Article looks at sending delegates to Synod. Diakonia Remixed is proposing that we change from the current 2 ministers and 2 elders from each Classis to 1 minister, 1 elder and 1 deacon. They also considered 4 delegates made up of 2 ministers, 1 elder and 1 deacon, as well as 6 delegates made up of 2 ministers, 2 elders and 2 deacons. (They encourage feedback on this area in particular!) I think having regular deacon delegates to Synod would be a wonderful addition to the conversations and decisions that are made.

The report gives us a lot to think and talk about! Take some time in the coming weeks to prayerfully consider the role of the deacon. Delve into Scripture, discuss these ideas with those around you, ask questions and listen. Don't forget to share your thoughts or concerns with the Task Force!

You can submit feedback by commenting below, or by e-mailing diakonia@crcna.org.

What are your thoughts about the preliminary report? 

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In the Biblical perspective, which I found as a whole to be a good report, all 60 pages, I only have these few comments to make: 

Screen 4.  Matthew 25 talks about the least of these brothers of mine…which would seem to indicate the body of Christ. 

Screen 9-F.  It seems that it would be better and more correct to say that we serve God, by taking care of the land.   We are not servants to the land as much as the land serves us, but we are stewards of the land, for God, since the land belongs to God ultimately.   I would also seem that we do not serve the land itself, but rather its purpose, the purpose that God has for it.  The land itself does not have the capacity to care about the result.   A desert does not feel neglected or harmed if it is converted to fertile field, and a fertile field does not complain feel injured if it its topsoil is moved to another location.   A rock has as much value as a tree, except within the purposes of God.   Man serves creation best when he dies, because then he improves the soil and provides himself as food for the microbes.   But creation itself does not have the ability to be pleased whether man lives or dies.  The pleasure of creation is found in the eyes of man, and the purpose of God.  

 Screen 14-1.  If Eclessiastes 5:9 really says this, then it has been badly translated in  KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT.   All of these say that the king is served from the field.  I would go with their translation – it makes sense with all the rest of scripture.

Screen 27 last paragraph.    Although in almost every case, there is mention of their faith….

35- Acts 4:34.   typo?  For there was not one among them that lacked? 

 Screen 44 II Corinthians 9:12   For the administration of this service.   Or for the doing of this work/service….?

Screen 53:    These works of service can include the ministry/service of the word as well as other types of service, or along with.   

My comments on the proposed church order changes: 

Article 12c:   I would have no problem if this article was simply reduced to:  “A minister of the Word may also serve the church in other work which relates directly to the calling of a minister.”   I believe the rest is really unnecessary.  

 

Article 25:   Since the offices of elder and deacon are determined to be unique, I would recommend that they get separate articles which may highlight that uniqueness.  This may have implications for terms of office, as well as for the roles and responsibilities and authority that these offices carry, since they are different from each other (which is why they have distinctly different titles/names). 

 Article 25b:   I would suggest “…shall participate in and promote worship, evangelism, instruction in the faith, and learning, and shall defend the faith…”  Should add in worship, instruction, and learning.  These are sometimes understood, and other times are not done enough.  These are major roles of elders.  

 Artcile 35:   Revise this to the consistory may give an account of its work to the council.   Keep in mind that in a way, consistory and council should also give an account of its work to the congregation.  The problem is what does that really mean?  A brief summary overview?   A detailed report?  Making this a demand or a command will not help communications if there is no desire to communicate.   Each church in essence must make its own decision on this.  

Article 40a:  Should be revised to:  Each classis shall determine whether its churches can delegate two or three officebearers to the sessions of  that classis.  No more than one can be an ordained pastor. 

Article 40b:  Should be revised to:   Each classis shall meet two or three times per year, as the classis determines. 

 Article 42b:   Do not agree with proposed revision “shall include a minister and one other officebearer”.   It is not the role or task or duty of service for deacons to supervise the administration and duties of councils and churches in general in the fashion described in this article.  Especially other churches.  They could be called on for assistance when specific diaconal needs are not being met, or when diaconal leadership and assistance is requested.  Or the diaconal conference can function in that regard. 

 Article 45:   One minister, one elder, and one deacon delegated from each classis to synod sounds good.  

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The alternate scenario considered for continuing to delegate four persons to Synod is more flexible than 2 ministers, 1 elder and 1 deacon. The task force considered 1 minister, 1 elder, 1 deacon, and one other officebearer. The manner in which the fourth officebearer would be chosen could be left up to each classis or the BoT or Executive Director could provide direction if a specific balance was desired. The details on how the fourth officebearer should be selected would not necessarily need to be part of the Church Order. Feedback (and reasons) on which scenario is desirable is welcome.

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