Need a logo for a diaconal presentation, offering, or event promotion? Find logos for the Christian Reformed Church in North America, Back to God Ministries International, ReFrame Media, Calvin College, Calvin Seminary, Resonate Global Mission, and World Renew here. Each one is available in a...

November 23, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Type Not Listed

The World Renew 2017-18 Gift Catalog is a way to "stand in the gap" on behalf of people who face oppression and poverty. Invite your church to help fill the poverty gap this Christmas!

November 22, 2017 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

With a booming economy in the U.S. and Canada, finding reliable and kind people to help with in home care is a huge challenge. Has you church stepped in the gap?

November 15, 2017 1 1 comments

Our deacons are planning our annual seniors Christmas dinner and we are looking for a simple and interactive activity. Any ideas? 

November 14, 2017 1 1 comments
Discussion Topic

During my time as deacon, one thing we have really struggled with is how to answer cold calls (people we don't know). How does your church handle cold calls? 

November 8, 2017 0 6 comments
Resource, Article

As part of our mission to inspire deacons in the work that they do, we want to share various deacons' experiences. Today we'd like you to meet Mrs. Rene Wall from John Calvin CRC in Truro, Nova Scotia. 

November 2, 2017 1 0 comments
Resource, Guide or Toolkit

“Ten Ways to Be a Caring Deacon” offers ten tips to help deacons care for others, as well as themselves, as they live out their calling and serve their congregation and community.

October 31, 2017 0 0 comments

As I lay in bed, I thought about a discussion I had with a sister in the faith that highlighted just one of many paradoxes of poverty. 

October 12, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Workshop or Training, Facilitated by Others

Westminster Seminary in Glenside, PA, is the site of the 2017 Deacon and Mercy Training, Saturdays, November 18, December 2, and 16 from 9:00-12:00.

September 26, 2017 0 3 comments
Resource, Website

In light of the recent spate of Article 17 terminations, this is an article worth wide dissemination. I see far too many pastors being pushed out far too quickly for often ill-defined reasons. 

September 13, 2017 0 2 comments
Resource, Guide or Toolkit

By participating in this year’s World Hunger campaign, you and your congregation will be invited to join in this story-changing work.

September 5, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Guide or Toolkit

World Renew invites you to join us in ending hunger by holding a special service in your church. Check out these Canadian Foodgrains Bank resources.

July 27, 2017 0 0 comments

Imagine approaching a church as a total stranger and asking permission to use the facility for a memorial service and luncheon, within the next 48 hours. Two weeks ago, I was the stranger. 

July 26, 2017 0 0 comments

Last night was my first meeting as a deacon and I was extremely impressed with how the Lord has placed these men in this precious role in the church. I'm excited and ask for prayer as I trust the Lord in this new role.  

June 7, 2017 0 1 comments
Resource, Job Description

View sample job descriptions for elders and deacons that can be modified to suit the specific needs, priorities and circumstances within your congregation.

May 1, 2017 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

How do you create space for remembering in your church or around your dinner table? If you'd like, please feel free to share the name of a loved one you are remembering this Easter.

April 13, 2017 0 8 comments

Oftentimes what we are passionate about spills over in our conversations. Are we so passionate about our faith that we simply can’t help but share it?

April 13, 2017 0 0 comments

I remember the turning point for Larry’s new faith journey. He had witnessed a model of service that was new to him—a church that showed it cared about those who are afflicted.

March 27, 2017 0 0 comments

While the church has “capital D” elected Deacons and Deaconesses, it also has “small d” deacons—you. Together we possess a dynamic energy as the people of God.

February 6, 2017 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Some of our deacons would like to send notes of appreciation to those in our church who contributed generously to help us out of our budget shortfall. Any thoughts?

February 2, 2017 0 2 comments

Does anyone have a good suggestion for a simple and confidential database to track visits with members of their congregation? 

January 30, 2017 0 4 comments

Are you a deacon, worship planner, administrator, or pastor? The Offering Calendar and Deacons' Helper Worksheet and other resources on our Church Year Resources page are for you!

January 15, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or eBook

Neighborology provides a blueprint for how churches and servant leaders of every ministry can be neighborly helpers.

January 12, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Guide or Toolkit

Share the story of hope by encouraging your church to hold a DRS Sunday. Your financial gifts and volunteer recruitment will help renew communities affected by disasters in the months and years after the actual disaster.

January 1, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Procedure

Here is the process of recruiting, nominating and selecting elders and deacons used by one particular congregation. Hope this is useful for your congregation!

January 1, 2017 0 0 comments



I have been hiring caregivers for 20 years and this has been the most difficult time between the low pay and economy providing so many choices for employment.

Invite your young adults and young people to the dinner, invite them to bring dessert. Have them placed at each of the tables with the seniors. Invite them to share faith stories...

I met Jesus for the first time in life....

My most memorable event when I was a youth/young adult was....

My favourite hymn/song growing up in church was....

I played this game, sport, instrument....

We have had Sinter Klaas come for a visit as well. The seniors thought that was incredible. They then told stories of the youth and Sinter Klaas... I received a shiny new nickel, an orange, etc.

Thanks for your comments, everyone!   It's good to have our experiences validated, and to get some great new ideas/ thoughts.

Some additional information to what was posted originally:  we had a lot of help from Deaconal Ministries Canada - their Helping without Hurting workshop is excellent and they have a lot of great online resources.  We developed our own Guidelines for Benevolence document based on an older version of this document:  .  Developing the guidelines took a couple of years, but it was a very useful exercise as we determined what would work best for our community.  As deacons, it also helps to keep us on the same page, and is very useful for new deacons.

Something that I haven't seen in the comments that I also found helpful:  we are blessed to have members who are connected to our local police forces.  They have a unique perspective on the community, and a better sense than the average person of what situations are safe or not.  If you're able to include them in your benevolence discussions it's very helpful. 


Thanks again, everyone!

We have an arrangement with the local Salvation Army ministry, whose appointment list for the month fills up in about 2 hours. They have a lot of overflow, so we agree to take one referral from them per week, as time and money allow. In return, we take the information from a "cold call" and with their permission submit it to the Salvation Army for guidance as well as a certain level of screening. We think that if there are people misusing the system, the Salvation Army will know about it. With their advice, we will offer assistance to the individual. We limit our assistance to about $300 per individual, though we may adjust that. We usually limit our assistance to rent/mortgage and utilities, leaving the requests for food for the many food pantries and ministries in town. When there is enough money and time, we can handle about 1 cold call and 1 Salvation Army referral a week. However, when there is not enough, we tell Salvation Army to stop referring for a time, and we tell cold callers that we are out of resources.

Both of the comments are good resources, check them out.  My church keeps dry goods on hand at all times and hands them out to those come in and ask.  We also have a food pantry that we direct them too.  The food pantry will have fresh produce and meat very often so it is a good incentive for folks to come to it.  We do not make any judgments about the truth of their stories but limit the amount we give away.  We also have gas cards we give out to folks, but we keep track of who gets them and set limits on our giving of them.  For instance a person could come in and ask for a gas card anytime but only receive one per month (30 days apart not a different month on the calendar) and they can only receive 3 of them per year.  Again we don't judge the truth of their statements, we simple limit the potential abuse.  If the person begins investing in our church and have need that we can assess truthfully, then the deacons begin working with them.  I hope this helps.  Rog

As pastor of a small church I had this happen all the time.    I will attempt to put down my rules.

1.  Listen carefully and compassionately.  This is a person whom God brought into your life and this is an opportunity to treat them in the name of Jesus.   Always pray with them about their situation. 

2.  I used a three red flag rule to try and weed out the scammers.  If they said, "My car is out of gas up the street and I need money for gas."  I would ask them to show me the car.   If they said, "I am on my way through to ____" I would say, where did you stay last night and call that place for verification.  If they could not back up the story, a red flag.   In other words, I would engage them enough to figure out if they were lying.  If the story did not check out I would ask them why not.  I would on occasion say, "I have a three flag rule.  Your story did not check out with me.  I am responsible for the Lord's money, and only move forward if the story holds up.  Sorry.  I want to help people and show the compassion of the Lord, but I also need to be responsible."

3. I have a list of agencies in the area and know what they can do.  So I refer them there for additional help.  This is especially helpful for connecting with shelters.  We have a Love in the Name of Christ that screens for scammers.

4.  We always had leftovers in the fridge from church potlucks.  We kept a small food pantry to pack a few days groceries.  Those would be available for meeting hunger needs.

5.  If a person resists what you are offering them, they are probably trying to scam.   The more they resisted, the less likely I was to help them.

6. If a person or family need was greater than I was comfortable with, then I would act to get them to Sunday, but then they would need to meet the deacons after church to address greater needs.   If that didn't work for them, I would try to hold the line that said, "Well, that is how it works for us. So you know where we are."   I had to learn to partner with the deacons as much as possible. 

7.  I kept a sleeping bag on hand, and I could let a person know where some good spots were to spend the night.

8.  On occasion I would open up a classroom for an overnight if children were involved.

9.  I would sometimes go with a person to purchase gas. 

I'm eager to hear other's input.  Jon Westra

Chapter 3 (Built for Transformation - Creating a Benevolence Philosophy and Policies) of Corbett and Fikkert's book Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence will give you great guidance in developing appropriate policies.

Hi Rene--I am in downtown Philadelphia where I have served as Diaconal consultant for 30 years. Check out  my "Setting limits" at For more guidelines, FAQ, etc., I'd suggest my book, Not Just a Soup Kitchen. Blessings.

Thanks for this, brother. I am sorry, but there is no online registration. Please see the attached form and mail it in. God bless.

Is it possible to register for the Deacon and Mercy training online?

Training diaconal servants since 1991

Thanks Bill. I've updated the link in the body of the post as well. Appreciate it! 

The earlier link I posted has died. This one works

Here's an easy and shortened link to copy and share the 2016 Form for the Ordination of Elders and   (the link to to the form in the job descriptions brings you to the 1982 Form)

Thanks for sharing! Blessings in your new role. 

posted in: I am a New Deacon

You may want to use references to the 2016 version of the ordination form.


Eric Westra - good friend




We have lost two children....both adults,  and both with families

My sister Jeanet....



Gladys (Boven) Tacoma - my mom

I just happened to stumble on this post today, and wanted to say thank you, David/Gary. As a mother who unexpectedly lost her 4-week-old daughter 5 months ago, I found the points in this post to be so accurate. 

I especially liked your point: "Bereaved parents can be parents who have lost children in utero, at birth, while an infant, while a youth, or even as an adult. The age doesn’t change things—children will always be sons and daughters of parents." 

While I know that everyone means well when trying to offer words of comfort, the words often have the opposite effect. As you pointed out, grief is a journey, and others' attempts to help us "move on" or somehow lessen the significance of her death are not at all what bereaved parents need. We will always grieve the loss of our daughter, and until we're reunited with her in heaven, there will always be a big part of us that's still actively hurting. I think these suggestions, though, are really helpful for friends and family looking to show compassion and care to bereaved parents.


That's a helpful link, Tim.  It addresses exactly the part of the End User License Agreement that I am concerned about.

Several comments to that post identify Word-encrypted attachments as a possible way forward. If we can do this simply, I may have found my solution.

I agree with Doug.  Spiritually, you are up against and being tempted to run contrary to the Kingdom economy, which inverts the worldly economy of “bigger is greater” (See: the widow’s mite in Luke 21:1-4).  Setting a pattern of officially and particularly thanking “generous” givers (where generosity is judged mainly or exclusively by amount) is not a practice with will serve the congregation well spiritually.

Practically, you also run into the problem of where to draw the line if generosity is judged mainly by amount.  If you thank the person or family who gave an extra $5,000, do you also thank the person who sent in $1,000?  How about $500 or $100?  I tend to think the same goes for those who give in other various volunteer roles in the church – personal thanks are great, but singling out people for special institutionally sanctioned thanks who have served in a larger role is dangerous, and brings up this conundrum: It’s not a matter of “who should I thank?”, but rather more a matter of “who should I not thank?”. 

In the end, it seems to me that a general thanks to the congregation for their responsiveness is best, coupled with an even more prayerful and joyful thanking of God for his abundant provision.  In focusing your most opulent thanks on God, you can remind the congregation that it is God who provides both the means and desire for generosity and so you will reinforce where all of our glory and praise should ultimately be directed.

My thought: don't send notes.  Doing that necessarily sets you up for distinguishing gifts that are "greater" or "more important" than others.  These are gifts.  

If a particular deacon wants to say a verbal thanks to a contributor, fine, but even that shouldn't be a "planned exercise."

I haven't heard of concerns about this before. What part of the user agreement are you concerned about? Google Drive is widely used, and if they didn't take data privacy/confidentiality seriously it would undermine their entire business.

There are many articles online about the security of data with Google, and here's one that explains some of the wording in the user agreement. Personally, I'd trust Google Drive more than most other online tools because it's in their best interest to keep their customer data secure and private. And they're big enough to do it well.

Thanks Tim! That sounds like a straightforward and simple procedure.

I am still hung up on Google's access to the content of what we would write. Maybe Google wouldn't actually use the contents of our database as indicated in the user agreement, but I'd have to give them permission to do so if I want to use the Google platform. Any thoughts about this confidentiality factor?


Have you considered a Google Spreadsheet, Jack?

You can give access only to those who are authorized to see it. Those that are authorized can enter their contact as a new row. Having it in a spreadsheet allows it to be sorted, grouped, etc. People use their Google Account to log in (note that they do NOT have to use Gmail, a Google Account is simply a login and can be created with any email address).

When the elder's term is up, you can take them off the permission list and add the new elder to the permission list.

It does mean that all elders could see all contacts. If that's not OK, you could get fancier with a separate tab for each district, and then configure permissions so that elders can only see the tab that applies to them. But to do that you'd need to dig into the Google Spreadsheets help to get it set up correctly. It's a little more complicated, but still fairly easy once you figure it out.

That's just one option that comes to mind. Hopefully others can weigh in with thoughts about this approach, and other alternatives. I'm sure other churches have faced the same question.

Excellent article David.  Indeed, divorce is usually more destructive than the death of a spouse/parent.  Having a good "church family" can make a huge difference in the lives of these families.

Thank you so much for this. I have some dear friends who have recently faced this trauma and I find these ideas to be wise and practical. I especially like how you end: "Remember, the goal of the bereavement process is not to leave grief behind. The lost loved one will never disappear. The goal of the journey is allow the parents to become functional grievers."

Thank you, Andrea.  This is helpful.

Hi Clayton,

The Deacons of our church have put together a "Lend-a-Hand" survey for us.  From the responses they received they have a list of people they can call on when there is a specific need.  It looks like this:


Romans 12:13 — “Share with God’s people who are in need.”

Dear church family,

The joy of being a part of God's family is being able to be God's hands and feet. As deacons, one of our duties is to encourage all members of our church to be a part of this wonderful work.  

The deacons would like to put together a Lend-a-Hand list so that we can be efficient and organized with connecting those who need help with those who can lend-a-hand

What are your skills? What are you willing or able to help with when there is a need in our community or within our church family?

We want to encourage everyone to take part when there is a need, and with this information we will be able to ask you to help in areas which suit the talents and skills God has blessed you with.

Please fill out your name below and tell us the areas where you could help.  The deacons will maintain the list and contact you when there is a need that matches your skills and see if you are available to Lend-a-Hand.  If you have additional skills which are not listed here please feel free to add them.  Please also indicate if you prefer to be contacted via email, phone or text.   This form will also be sent by email as a survey, we encourage you to use that method and to include your whole family in your response.


Name: ___________________________


Please check ☑ the appropriate boxes:⠀


  • Babysitting
  • Cooking meals
  • Driving (lifts)
  • Handy man
  • Helping move
  • Other: _______________  ______________ 


  • Food Cupboard
  • Soup Kitchen Volunteer
  • Other: _________________

Communication Method

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Text


May God bless you all for the generosity and love that you show when you give through your time and talents.

From your Deacons





Speaking of 'The Elders Handbook', starting today if you attend a CRC you can now read it - and hundreds of other Faith Alive titles - for free in the new CRC Digital Library.

Here's the direct link to the Elder's Handbook page:

...and you can learn more about the Digital Library at this short link:

There's also a Deacon's Handbook, a Church Staff Handbook, and hundreds of other titles. Spread the word about this new library, made possible by Ministry Shares.

Thanks for the thought about the recorded webinars.  I've helped with orientation for elders for decades now... starting in years when I could not be an elder myself.  Now I'm looking for ideas to help a younger generation consider the role and and responsibilities... 

The materials we have seem to present the role of elder as a pastor sees that role, rather than as elders actually experience it.  I'm particularly interested in how good training for council members could help create an environment in which Pastor/Council tensions are resolved without major trauma.  We are in conversation with the Pastor/Church relations folks, too.

I've used "The Elders Handbook" in other years, but it felt like it best served the people who had already served as an elder for a year or more -- which in some years includes all the new elders, so that was good.  

Hi Virginia: 

The Office of Pastor Church Relations would have helpful resources ( or you could check out my book "The Elders Handbook" (available to order here through Faith Alive). 


Hi Virginia--I'd recommend Lester Dekoster's Handbook for Elders

Shepherd Leaders by Tim Witmer is also good, as is Philip Keller's A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

Hi Virginia! Did you check out the recorded webinars for new and/or experienced elders? In addition, the general Elders section is a great starting point. If you are looking for a specific resource or advice, you can always post your question to the Network community. Thanks for sharing!



The comments below suggest that there is a wealth of good training material available for deacons -- but it looks thin when it comes to elders.  Do people have any good resources to suggest for training elders?


Yes, I have been familiar with VIS for a long time and would heartily recommend their expertise.  I also would recommend Volunteers In Action in Denver, CO (another ministry established by CRC members).  

 Unfortunately, the ministry I was part of for 10 years called Christian Service Ministries in Classis Chicago South recently disbanded.  




Have you checked the resources at Faith Alive? 

Give them a call or order online - it's possible that they only take online orders. Also, you may call the classis Pastor for help with resources, or a church visitor - who is usually a pastor in your classis.

Grace, Daniel 

In our area, West Michigan, we use the help of VIS Volunteers in Service, an organization established by CRC members to help and support deacons in their work. 

VIS is helping CRC churches, and many benefit from their training, but now they're growing and helping all other churches that need help or support for the deacons. 

Try calling them, here is their website, - you can ask for Bernita if you need a name. 

Grace, Daniel 

I highly recommend doing a search right here on The Network section for Deacons on the subject. There have been a relatively large number of posts, at least one webinar and resources--including the Diakonia Remixed report to Synod 2013 and the report to Synod 2016 from the Task Force to Study the Office of Elder and Deacon--that I have used and made available to deacons and diaconates from churches in our classis. 

Classis Holland recently spent an evening with Steve Timmermans (CRCNA Executive Director) and Andy Ryskamp (recently retired Director of World Renew U.S. to learn a bit more about where we are heading and how we hope to get there. There was a recent post on the website of the Holland Deacons' Conference that provided some of the information they shared that evening. Here's the link to that post:


A lot of good resources and suggestions have already been shared here. The Network site for deacons itself contains a wealth of information, ideas and resources. Simply type in what you're looking for in the search box on the upper right corner of this page, check the "This Section" button and click the search magnifying glass icon. 

In addition to what has been mentioned thus far, I would be remiss if I didn't also mention the Holland Deacons' Conference (aka HDC) . . . the diaconal ministry of the churches and communities of Classis Holland. We too have a website ( that provides resources and support for deacons including regular blog posts providing timely and relevant information and news that is diaconal in well as a page dedicated to Deacon Resources.

Finally, HDC is available to meet with local diaconates for consultation, planning assistance, training on a variety of diaconal topics such as Community Asset Mapping, Effective Benevolence Practices, Deacon Orientation, and more. 


In addition to my book, Not Just a Soup Kitchen: How Mercy Ministry in the Local Church Transforms Us All, I have a video on The Role of the Deacon  which is broken up into small sections. Go to

I think one thing those of us who are wealthier are called to consider is not using our wealth to travel somewhere warm.  I think this needs discussing in our broader church: the use of our wealth, the call to community, to be present, to care for those who don't have that kind of wealth.

Wow.  Thanks, David!  This sparks my thinking about the role of deacons at classis and synod.  How can the deacons help us as assemblies and as a denomination, to infuse this servant-hood into our life together in our neighborhoods, cities, towns, and nations?  If ever our world needed to experience fearless incarnational service, it's now.   

     Back in the day, we all were aware of the phenomenon of "changing neighborhoods".   People left, churches left, and then those who came next experienced the irreversible decline of the systems and networks that are the vessels and sinews of healthy community.  It was an incredibly complicated tangle  of social, economic, religious dynamics, and the church basically walked away.... or in some cases ran. I think we thought we could give up on some of the square inches over which Jesus is Lord.

 It feels like the cities of the nations are experiencing something like that today.  Societies are at risk of being overwhelmed by the needs of people pressing to be allowed in.  Systems can't cope.  Cultures can't assimilate that fast.  Those with resources leave the turmoil  and walk away.  And we all watch as things unravel.  Some of us try to help.  Unless the Spirit of Jesus the Servant pervades the global church, the Church may again find itself out in suburbia, where things may feel a little better.... for a while.  What does radical servant-hood mean for the Church today?  

If the Church in North America is in fact being challenged by the secularizing of our society as never before, surely we are also being challenged to renewed commitment by the global themes of war, ecological decline, prejudice, and homelessness on a scale we couldn't have imagined.  We simply cannot respond only as individuals or congregations. We are called to be many members unified in large scale responses, so that systems and cities, populations and nations, may turn toward justice and mercy.  That means that we'll have to discern as assemblies, as a denomination among sister denominations, what needs to be done.  By us.  And then we'll have to follow the Spirit to think bigger, speak wiser, and work humbler, and get more done.

David, you have been at this for a lifetime.  Thank you.  And may God continue to use you.




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