Too often local congregations act as if they alone are the Church or Body of Christ in the community . . . that they alone are doing God's work . . . alone. This perspective or mindset can be especially challenging and often discouraging to deacons in smaller congregations. The truth, however, is that many, if not most, congregations--especially in the U.S. and perhaps Canada--are in communities or areas where there are other churches (not necessarily CRC of course), ministries, and/or faith-based Christian organizations working with and supporting individuals and families in some way. I believe that we need to both view and work with other Christians (churches, ministries, organizations, neighbors, etc.) in our communities in a way that more faithfully reflects the Church as the Body of Christ that we are.
As deacons and those involved in diaconal work on behalf of a local congregation, this means that we should explore ways to support and work with individuals and families. Increasingly, as we act and look more like the Body of Christ that we are we will also, among other things,
- become better stewards of the time and resources which God has given;
- present a more unified witness for Christ to the community;
- do a better job of transforming lives and our community for God's Kingdom; and
- experience more satisfaction and less discouragement as we seek to fulfill our diaconal calling and responsibilities.
What about your congregation?
- What might prevent deacons from working with other churches, ministries or organizations in their local community?
- Do you think deacons would be supported by their pastor(s) and other congregational ministry leaders if they wanted to develop diaconal partnerships?
- How could church/community neighbors--those living in the community--become involved with deacons and those from other organizational entities?