If you are reading this post, you are more than likely aware of Synod's decision to approve the recommendations of The Task Force to Study the Offices of Elder & Deacon (Task Force). You are likely also aware that as a result, deacons will now be attending and hopefully participating as delegates to their local classis as well as synod. However, in addition to giving deacons a voice and vote at these assemblies, there are also some other changes that directly impact the focus and work of deacons in the CRC.
Instead of functioning largely as "lone rangers" that do nearly all the work of diaconal ministry, the approved changes charge and expect deacons to encourage, equip, and provide opportunities for members of the congregation to participate in diaconal work. Additionally, deacons are also encouraged to identify and develop partnerships with the community, i.e., neighbors, other churches, ministries, etc. In addition to engaging and working with others—instead of deacons doing it all—developing such partnerships moves deacons and congregations to develop more of a posture and perspective of doing ministry "with" our neighbors and community instead of primarily doing ministry "to" or "for" our neighbors.
While this post highlights some of what I view as the more salient changes for deacons, the full report itself is worth reading and studying by deacons as well as other members of the church council. The full report contains important information and guidance for church council members as well as classical leaders and delegates. The full report, contained in the 2015 Agenda, can be viewed or downloaded online by clicking here. The Task Force report is on pages 380-410 of the Agenda.
I have attached the Changes to Church Order Articles about Deacons.
What are your thoughts on the changes? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.