Take a look at this VERY interesting job posting for a Service Deacon – a full-time position now being advertised at the Brookside CRC in Grand Rapids, MI. You can read all about it at the church’s website.
“Mandate: The Member and Community Life Coordinator is responsible to the Senior Pastor for equipping, training, and guiding Brookside in the promotion and provision of caring ministries of compassion both within the church and its extended community. Special focus will be given to the diaconal ministries of compassion and justice, stewardship, family life, and connections. This person will serve as a Service Deacon and will work with and empower all in the Brookside community to develop their gifts in the service of others.”
Several things strike me about this job description; for one thing, it ties together compassion, justice, stewardship, family life, and connections! These five foci are identified together as “diaconal ministries”. I really like this combination. It recognizes the reality that these dimensions of congregational life are interdependent. Our life together, our giving and receiving of gifts to meet needs, our growth in stewarding our gifts together, our communal expressions of compassion and justice – these feed off each other. They are reciprocal relationships within the community of the Body of Jesus. Each nurtures the others and together they build up the body, equipping it for good works.
And that is the combination of gifts that this Member and Community Life Coordinator is charged to develop among the membership. S/he is to be an “equipper”. And this is to be accomplished in a way that recognizes and expresses a “wholistic” ministry. That’s so biblical and so Reformed!
This person is to work with and to empower all in the congregation to develop their gifts in the service of others. That’s another noteworthy dimension of the position. The job description is explicit about the fact that this person is not THE deacon on behalf of the church, but is rather responsible to develop the diaconal dimension of family life and of the church’s life together.
A third significant thing about this mandate is that it so expressly includes church and community. I like the phrase “extended community”. It helps the members focus on their relationships among those who live around the church, and whose lives are touched by members throughout the week at school, on the job, in the neighborhood, wherever.
This posting says a lot about what Brookside thinks about the role of the deacon. Brookside has another position open that is complementary to this one, and together these positions express the classic roles of elder and deacon in our church order. I love what Brookside has done here. I trust that the Task Force on the Office of Deacon will take a good look. Maybe there are other churches with similar thinking? Let’s hear from you!