Maybe you've seen this. . .
If you are a member of a congregation, you have seen elders and deacons serving the church. Maybe you have also seen elders and deacons come to the end of their terms disillusioned, weary, and frustrated.
Or maybe you are an elder or deacon. You remember being eager to help people through your ministry. But you also remember your initial excitement wearing away because of the hoops and habits of the church that nobody had talked about (until you tripped over them by mistake).
Or maybe you are a pastor. You’ve seen deacons and elders begin their work with eagerness. But then you’ve seen a number of them grow quiet and withdrawn, clock watchers at meetings and bench warmers in between.
Maybe you'll be able to relate to Jason's story.
Jason has just been elected to his first-ever term as a Council member in the church. He is a successful salesman for a medical device provider. He is a wonderful husband and father. But as he begins his time as a deacon he is anxious because he has so little awareness of what he is supposed to do.
You see, nobody gave Jason a job description during the nomination process. There was no orientation session when he first became a deacon. And there was no time or place during those first few weeks to get feedback or ask questions. Jason had initially allowed his name to stand for nomination because he wanted to serve his church. But all he knew with certainty about being a deacon came from watching the deacons collect the Sunday offerings.
During his first year as a deacon, Jason decided that his primary task would be to watch and learn. He was silent at meetings. He carried out assigned tasks but was never certain about how well he was doing. He didn’t ask for feedback because everyone else seemed so sure of themselves. Silence was simply the safe play.
During Jason’s second year as a deacon he finally felt more at ease. He participated in ministry decisions. He organized a few visits to people in need. But he kept wondering what tied all the parts of diaconal ministry together. And he couldn’t understand why he needed to go to council meetings. And classis just seemed to be a whole other planet.
During Jason’s third year as a deacon he suddenly realized that his term was just about over. And then he realized that he hadn’t made the contribution he had dreamed of making.
That realization was deeply frustrating.
Jason determined to finish well and to contribute where he was able. But at the close of his three years he didn’t have a sense of accomplishment or impact. That made Jason wonder what he would do the next time his name was up for nomination.
Sound familiar? Do you resonate with Jason’s frustration?
Maybe you’ve been in Jason’s shoes—as a deacon OR as an elder.
Maybe you are a congregation member who has observed council members leaving office similarly disillusioned.
Or maybe you are a pastor who sees people enter the offices of the church and then become disoriented and quiet while in office.
What could the church do to change Jason’s story? Are there ways to help people who become deacons and elders use their gifts as fruitfully as possible? What should we do for people who are entering office so that they can hit the ground running?
The staff of Pastor Church Resources is looking into questions just like these. We sense that many parts of "doing church" that people once simply understood are much less certain now. We also sense a growing desire, in many corners of our denomination, to help council members flourish from day one as they bless the church.
If you are a church member, an elder or deacon, or a pastor you may have ideas to share, stories to tell, or hopes to express. Please share them with us!
Leave a comment below or contact Dave Den Haan at [email protected] or 877-279-9994 (ext. 2712).