I keep having this picture in my mind of 1,000 CRC ministries scattered across North America, and in every single one there are either deacons who are “official”, or else diaconal hearts – unofficial but equally powerful.
How many deacons are there? Several thousand? I just can’t get this picture out of my mind – what a powerful resource to lead the CRC into a time of new energy and effectiveness! This is the action cadre. We’ve got pastors and elders responsible for faith and life, and we’ve got deacons to lead and guide the church into family needs, into communities, neighborhoods, cities, issues, crises.
What a system we have in place for organized stewardship, generosity, meeting needs and helping our communities think about mercy and justice in the public square!
I know there are groups of deacons who are organized and invested in meeting needs in congregation and community. I keep running across their stories. I know there are deacons who have a proven track record of harvesting the gifts of their church members and aiming those gifts at needs in the lives of members and neighbors.
And yet I have this strong sense that we are doing only a fraction of what we could do. It’s not about money! It’s not about sophisticated technology, or advanced degrees. It’s about being willing to invest our time, our hearts, our compassion, our skills. And let’s face it – we are busy busy people.
So, what’s possible? How do we attain a critical mass of diaconal leadership for the CRC? I’m thinking this is what we need if we are going to revitalize the church. We’re going to have to dig into the discipline of stewardship again. The money habits and patterns of our parents don’t mark our children. The attitudes about how to do church are changing, well ok, they’ve changed already, and people are looking for opportunities to get engaged, to be part of the action, to feel like they belong, and it’s deacons who could speak to these changes. It’s deacons who can stir up the conversations about engagement, sharing, service opportunities, and the new behaviors that mark a fellowship of integrity. Let’s talk about diaconal leadership. Let’s talk about it on the Network!