WHAT IF There Were a Revolution?
I mean a DIACONAL revolution in the CRC. Of course we’re used to reformation, we get that all the time. We’re old hands at reformation. Reformation is so yesterday.
But what if there were a diaconal revolution? How would it start? What would it look like?
Could it have started while we weren’t paying attention? We didn’t notice the first sign – it was Overture 16 to Synod of 2010, followed by the decision of Synod to say YES, and to create a task force to study the office of deacon. Nothing special, really….. just another study committee – but we did wonder – this was a task force not a study committee.
And then some amazing things began to happen. A group of deacons began to send in their requests to be on that task force. Jerry Dykstra started to notice that new requests appeared in his mailbox every day, deacons sending in resumes, deacons sending in their dreams, deacons describing their experiences, telling their stories, and begging to have the opportunity to serve on this task force.
Banner articles and letters started to appear regularly, a whole series of them, addressing the topic of deacons, and telling stories about congregations that got engaged with their communities, churches that experienced internal renewal as a result of working on renewal in the community. There were stories of deacons leading study groups, deacons leading advocacy groups, deacons training elders on how to listen for needs and opportunities.
The online Network was brought to its knees for a day as deacons clogged the DEACONS’s page to discuss what the synodical task force should do. A facebook page appeared, and a tweet campaign sprouted in days. More sermons on deacons got preached in three months than the Psalter Hymnal has pages. Faith Alive announced record breaking sales of the Deacons’ Handbook.
By January a tidal wave of excitement had swept across the church. The RCA was frantically trying to answer its own deacons’ questions about what the CRC was up to, and the NAE was pestering Jerry Dykstra to get an interview about why it was that signs saying, “We’re here to serve you!” suddenly appeared by the thousands in front of CRC buildings across the continent. CRWRC was ready to meet disaster anywhere in the world, but it had to bring in a cadre of volunteers to handle the phones ringing off the hook with questions from churches wanting to know how to handle unleashed deacons in congregation and community. Jay Van Groningen at Communities First Assn said he had never seen anything that remotely resembled what was happening in the CRC. “Why aren’t they waiting to see what Synod will say,” wondered CRC leaders.
The Agenda for Synod was due out in March and orders for it were coming in faster than they could be handled. Sending one to every council was clearly not going to assuage the demand. Everyone wanted to know what the report would recommend.