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More Than Charity & Relief

Are CRC deacons fulfilling their calling?

Deacons
Q&A
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How does your church transition new deacons into their role?

I would like to offer a roundtable on this topic in the Chicagoland area. Some churches may have retreats? Maybe some other ideas about length of time? Any other ideas welcome!
Deacons
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Introducing Your New Deacon Network Guide

Hello, my name is Jack Kooyman and I am very pleased and grateful for the opportunity to be your new Network Guide for the Deacon's section. I presently serve as the Executive Director for the Holland Deacons' Conference and am a member of First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. 

Deacons
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A Bientot, See You Soon

As the seasons change so too must guides change. Today I say farewell, but I also say welcome to our new guide... 

Deacons
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Generational Differences

As a church body we are multi-generational, so how do we deal with the lack of "like mindedness" that may come when we are serving on a team spanning generations?

Deacons
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Faith Promise Giving

Several years ago, our church adopted the practice of Faith Promise Giving (FPG).  This change in our approach was initiated in response to annual deficits in our financial year-end. Slowly but steadily, this ‘new’ way of giving has changed our perspective...

Deacons
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Missional Tithing

How do we look at tithing missionally? Many times people begin talking about tithing by going to Malachi 3:10 where God tells his people to bring in the whole tithe and he will bless them. Great. Okay. So tithing leads to blessing, right? Yes and no.The purpose of tithing is not to be blessed but to bless...

Deacons
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Tips for Hospital Visits

Looking for tips on how to do hospital visits well?  Applicable not only to deacons, but also to pastors, elders or anyone who offers compassionate care, this blog post shares some dos and don'ts to help you out! You can also add your own...

Deacons
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Justice: Is It Even Worth It?

Have you ever wondered about whether justice is worth it?  With some thoughts about this provocative question  and a passionate video you'll get a response that may be more than you bargained for. 

Deacons
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Advisers to Synod 2014

The Office of Synodical Services is in the process of soliciting nominees for service as ethnic and deacon advisers, as well as young adult representatives to synod.

DeaconsCRCNA and Synod
Webinar Recording
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Getting Started as a New Deacon

This webinar is designed to assist you in understanding the role and purpose of a deacon, where your skill and interests fit with this calling, how to best help people who are struggling, and to identify who are the deacons' partners in ministry.

Deacons
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The Kingdom of God is Like a Concert

Suddenly Sarah McLachlan said "your turn" and the crowd burst into song, more shouting than singing with her. It didn't matter that they had no skill or musical ability, they simply joined together with her...

Deacons
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Emotionally Safe People

We often have the privilege of hearing another person's story - but have you thought lately about the responsibility that comes with someone sharing with you?  Are you an emotionally safe person - someone who guards their words about others when it comes to reporting, praying or conversations?

Deacons
Q&A
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Caring for both children and senior parents - how can we support?

One of the diaconates in the area of Alberta I serve as consultant is asking for ideas on how to support those who are part of the 'sandwich generation'. In other words those who find themselves raising children while at the same time caring for elderly parents. These people are often in need of both practical and emotional/spiritual support. Have congregations or individuals found ways to offer support?
Deacons
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Ready or Not - Here September Comes!

We're a couple weeks away from September and for most churches this means it's time to start up programs and meetings again.  How can we as deacons be prepared for what is ahead?

Deacons
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Extravagant Love and the Hardened Heart

When a mystery guest arrived at my door with roses, I wasn't sure what to think.  Little did I know that God's extravagant love was about to be revealed again... 

Deacons
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Good Bye Martha Stewart! Rethinking Hospitality.

So often we are innundated with magazine images about what hospitality looks like, however, Martha Stewart has it wrong! Hospitality is much simpler than popular culture would have us believe - and more enjoyable too!

Deacons
Discussion Topic
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Assumptions about Deacons

Some years ago, the Christian psychologists Henry Cloud and John Townsend published a book called "12 "Christian" Beliefs that can Drive You Crazy." In it they detailed some common beliefs about life and psychological health that people often assume are Biblical. The book was written in the hope that people will critically reflect on these assumptions, and ask themselves if they truly emerge from Scripture. The Diakonia Remixed report, and hopefully the process that is emerging from it, may be an opportunity for us to do the same when it comes to the office of deacon. It is a good time to...
Deacons
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Summer Book Recommendations

Long evenings, vacations, quieted responsibilities often provide opportunities during the summer months for reading.  If you haven't already decided on your book list, I thought I would give you some ideas to explore. 

Deacons
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How many churches no longer take special offerings?

Over the past few years I have heard of more and more churches doing away with "special offerings," choosing instead to have everything go to the general fund. Wondering how widespread this is.
Deacons
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Diakonia Remixed Report - The Synod Decision

At Synod last week the Diakonia Remixed Report was discussed. Ultimately what was discussed on the Synod floor was different than what had been submitted by the task force. Here's what happened...

DeaconsCRCNA and Synod

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Should paying secular bureaucrats to fund and administer government programs count as a tithe because some of those programs help poor people?  No, of course not.

But does the fact that most Americans are required at gunpoint to pay close to (if not more than) half their income in taxes (federal income, state income, property, sales, gas, etc.)  to the government make it MUCH, MUCH harder to tithe?  Of course it does.

George, interesting question.   I would say that it does not equate to paying tithes since it is involuntary (taxes), and it is paying for services as much as helping the poor.   In otherwords, old age security is available to most people, and unemployment benefits are paid from wages, based on the assumption that if you are unemployed, then you can access it.  It is more insurance than donation.  While it is true that some of the church's tasks of helping the poor have been reduced or made easier by the fact that the state has put in place methods for assisting the poor, you could argue that simply providing for your family from your wages also prevents poverty in your wife and children, and thus does the same thing.   When the church helps the poor it comes with the message that we do this because Jesus loves us.   When the state does it, it is usually to prevent disgrace or food riots. 

As I once heard someone say "People tell me that they've been a Christian for twenty years, when they've really been a Christian for only one year, and they've just been repeating themselves for the last 19."

Another important consideration is this, that being older does not automatically make you more spiritually mature.   And you can also probably think of examples where spiritual enthusiasm does not necessarily equate to spiritual maturity.   Sometimes I am thinking that spiritual enthusiasm might be better than spiritual maturity.  Even though it sometimes leads to mistakes and errors, spiritual enthusiasm does not have the error of complacency, which is often attached to "spiritual maturity".   So I would say that the spiritually enthusiastic youth ought not to let themselves be held back too much by the so-called spiritual maturity of the "olders".  Listen yes, consider yes, but live out your obedient joy in Christ in all its fulness where ever and whenever you have the opportunity! 

Melissa, thank you for this post. Two quick observations are in order.  First, the criteria in scripture for church office is not age; it is spiritual maturity. Second, at age 13 Mormon "Teenagers" are inducted into the Aaronic Priesthood and at that point take on all the responsibilities of an adult member. In Soul Searching it is interesting that Mormon youth have a better understanding of their faith and tend to stick much better than Protestant youth. In light of the above observations perhaps it is time for us to recognize that teenagers are young adults who ought to be mentored into adulthood, and the role of adults and particularily elders, is to spiritually mentor young adults. 

We seem to be getting confused by several different issues here and mixing them all together.  

Profession of faith is a bit misnamed since it is seen as a committment to membership, not to faith.  After all, we wouldn't say that those who have not made profession of faith at age 6 or ten or sixteen are necessarily therefore without faith.  Perhaps the faith of a child is often stronger in fact.  So it is really a committment to membership, to particular confessions, to living a life of gratitude and joy and obedience to Christ, and recognizing this in a public way.  This could be done at perhaps age 12 or 16, but too many wait far too long; we might ask ourselves why they wait so long. 

Voting in a congregation ought to be at an age set by the congregation.  Perhaps at 18, or 16, or 20, whatever the congregation decides with council in its wisdom, but not automatically tied to a profession of faith, although it should be a pre-requisite.   In some cases, additional advisory votes by nonprofessing members could also be considered (but non-binding).   

Just because you can vote, doesn't mean you automatically should be able to sit on council.   Again, council and church should set a minimum age, recognizing that while wisdom can be present in the youth, it is not for nothing that elders are called elders and not youngers or middlers.   While exceptions should be possible, it would be good to look at possibly an age of about 30 for council.   I remember being on council a few years before that, and while it was good to serve, it would not have done any harm either to wait a few years. 

There are other places to lead and serve besides council.  Not only that, but no Christ-like elders would deliberately rule out conversations with non-council members, and would normally appreciate their input.  Council meetings are supposed to be open to anyone who wishes to attend, unless it is in executive session.   And non-council members can request an opportunity to speak or present an issue. 

Finally, I find it hard to believe that any council does not look forward to the future leadership of those who are presently young.  But as Ecclesiastes says, there is a time for everything, and everything in its time. 

Being a youth pastor, I really appreciate this article for a few reasons. First, I think it gives a strong voice to something that's been swept under the rug for some time. I wasn't aware of this before working with them, but youth are full of brilliant ideas, energy, and charisma – something a lot of our congregations envy. What better way to harness those gifts than involving them in the core conversations. Secondly, the "maturity" of students is almost always undercredited. They may say or do things that are left field, but maybe that's also the reason they stay away from church leadership (because they're looked down upon so agressively). The church should be the place we not only encourage growth, but where we display grace. And what better way to show those qualities than at a leadership level?

I understand that there are legal boundaries to this, but most congregations won't consider anyone for leadership until at least mid twenties, nearly ten years after they can be "legally bound".

Don't think kids care about this? Simply ask them yourselves. I did and I was surprised at how disappointed they were for not being embraced as future leaders. 

Don't want to throw a wrench into the works, however, serving on council also means sitting on a board of an incorporated NGO. State/Provincial legislation in this area usually requires one to be of legal voting age. 

Consequently, the denomination needs to separate the matter of "profession of faith" from "membership in a society", i.e. church as a legal entity.

a person is called by THE LORD to be part of HIS CHURCH.  after public profession of FAITH, he or she has not only the  RIGHT BUT ALSO THE DUTY to fully participate,in all aspects of KINGDOM  work/

Some interesting words from Job 32:

“I am young in years,
and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
not daring to tell you what I know.
7 I thought, ‘Age should speak;
advanced years should teach wisdom.’
8 But it is the spirit[b] in a person,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
9 It is not only the old[c] who are wise,
not only the aged who understand what is right."

How young is too young for council? Shoot, before we ask that question maybe we ought to deal with the question of how young is too young to be allowed to vote at congregational meetings. My congregation answered that by banning those under 16 from voting, even though they've made profession of faith. My motions to elimnate that were quickly shot down during both my terms on council. I mentioned that, given the policy, and in the interest of honesty, maybe we oughtn't read that part of the profession of faith form that says "I now welcome you to all the privileges of full communion. I welcome you to full participation in the life of the church. I welcome you to its responsibilities, its joys, and its sufferings."

For me, a few ideas come to mind here.  First and foremost, maybe it's not about pushing the age limit lower and lower, but rather about first addressing the issue of the council strongholds being willing to pass on the baton to a younger generation of leaders, and to walk alongside them (as a council member ex-officio, or similar).  My guess is, without having this discussion first, and making this a council-wide priority, plugging in a 21 year old into the council room will have negative effects.

Second, I get frustrated when I hear about "youth representatives" on committees.  This creates a two-tier system, which essentially minimizes the voice of the youth.  Each person who sits at the table comes by nature as a representative of certain groups or demographics, but we name only the "youth rep" for our own agenda.  How come we don't have the "working moms rep" or "over 80 rep" or "knitter's rep" at the table?  

Last, never underestimate the potential having a young adult at the table can bring to the meeting.  What would it mean to have someone constantly ask, "So, tell me, why exactly are we doing it this way?" might slow the meeting down, but it would quickly bring intentionality back to the purpose of your church.  Not to mention the fact that there are some youth that simply have the gift of leadership, perhaps moreso than some of our existing members.  What better place to develop that than within the church?  We have a whole pile of children, youth, and young adults that love Jesus, love the church, and deeply desire to belong and invest in a local congregation.  They want to pour back into the community that helped shape their faith.  We absoutely must give them the opportunity!

I don't think a teenager has the maturity needed to be an elder or deacon. Having said that, I think it would be a good idea  to include them in the council somehow so they can become aware of what it means to lead the church. What I would like to see is more young people, teenagers and post high, given the responsibility of heading ministries in the church - youth groups, Gems, Cadets, Sunday School, etc. This will give them a chance to mature in their roles as leaders. It will also make them feel like they can make an important contribution to the church.  If the older generation has been in charge of youth ministries, it's time to turn over the job of leadership. This also gives the older members a chance to look at new ways God might be leading them. If we give our young people a chance to lead in ministry, to experience the joys and frustrations, that will help them to develop their leadership skills. Then they will be ready to lead as elders and deacons. Maybe they will even think of pursuing the call of ministry, after gaining some experience.

(In the same way) The new public tv documentary about the Dust Bowl is very important for three reasons. First, most people alive today think the Vietnam War is ancient history and the Dust Bowl is beyond their comprehension. They have no one to tell them about real hard times.

Second, because current political debate is about poor people "deserving" or being "entitled to" government help. The movie tells about a time when event real patroitic, church going, Bible believing, hard working, job wanting Baptist - and I suppose a few Reformed - Americans can literally come to the end of their rope.

Third, because some Americans refuse to admit that "Mother Nature," even our "Reformed" can turn against us especially when we ignore what she or he is trying to tell us. For example, we built the Glen Canyon Dam and the year after Lake Powell was full the the rain stopped. The Ogllala Aquifer has been half sucked dry. The Colorado River no longer reaches the Gulf of Mexico.  See  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogallala_Aquifer  Before the current Oil Wars are ended the Water Wars will have started.

 

 

posted in: The Poverty Line

A suggestion, or three:   in 74b proposed revision of church order, add in "church" ministry.  In 75b, add in "classical" ministry.  In 76b, add in "denominational" ministry.   Just to be clear. 

I heard Donn Hansum 3 years ago when he spoke for Christian Service Ministries in the Chicago area.  He did an excellent job and I highly recommend this webinar!

Thanks, Melissa!

Broken record plug...the books of John Collins, who over the last several years has made the case that the diakon- family of words carries with it the idea that diakonia also carries with it the idea of "bridgebuilder" or "ambassador"...once again, something that we all are for the kingdom of God.

What's interesting, is that the same basic word used for deacon is also used for (translated into)  "minister" and "ministry".

Love these questions. We are beginning to ask similar ones of the Host Churches for Youth Unlimited's Serve since that one week opportunity ought to have strong links to the ongoing work of the congregation in the community. 

Yes, maybe we should see injustice where we don't see it now.  But how does speaking in generalities help?   Will you be more likely to help someone because they are unjustly treated than simply because they have a need?   Will you adopt an orphan quicker because they are unjustly an orphan, than because they are an orphan who has a need?   Will you adopt an orphan due to a tsunami less quickly than an orphan whose mother simply abandoned her?  Will you adopt a handicapped orphan quicker because no one else will, than a healthy whole child for whom adoptive parents are competing? 

If a person cannot get a job because they have no skills, is that unjust?  Do you then help them to get some skills, or just complain about injustice?  or try to create work for them?  or give them some food?   or ignore them because there is no injustice?  

In order to make sense of injustice, you need to be specific, don't you think? 

You're right - we don't always see things as injust - but perhaps we need to be challenged to!  There are systemic issues that perpetually keep people marginalized.  How can we better love and serve our refugee, aboriginal or immigrant friends?  What does it look like for us to stand with those who have disabilities, mental illness, are homeless or in a state of poverty?  It's important to see needs - but it's also important to see the injustice that creates the need.  And call a spade a spade (or injustice, injustice). :)

I wonder if the way to make sure we see needs, is to stop always calling it injustice.  We probably don't see injustice because we do not see it as injustice.  We do not see our own actions as injust, nor the actions of others as unjust, yet there are needs.   For example, are victims of the tsunami considered to be victims of injustice?  Are victims of hurricane Isaac victims of injustice?    yet, they have needs.   Needs, yes, that's something we can see.

I hadn't even thought of PayPal, or using smart phones!  What an interesting idea, and with the growing number of users, you're right that this type of electronic giving may increase.  Your comment  actually sent me to another blog of Sheri's which talked more in depth about the options available. http://network.crcna.org/content/church-administration/no-more-checkbooks

I have MS and in my case it's still very invisible. Alot of disabilities are invisible, like mental illness and chronic pain. I would like churches to think beyond the visible and to provide a safe place for people to say, I'm struggling, this is a limitation in my life. I also would like the church to understand "chronic". No I am not better this week, just a little less sick or perhaps stable. My situation isn't going to change much, except get worse. It isn't a broken leg that will mend and eventually not need a cast and crutches anymore.

beautifully written!  :)

The alternate scenario considered for continuing to delegate four persons to Synod is more flexible than 2 ministers, 1 elder and 1 deacon. The task force considered 1 minister, 1 elder, 1 deacon, and one other officebearer. The manner in which the fourth officebearer would be chosen could be left up to each classis or the BoT or Executive Director could provide direction if a specific balance was desired. The details on how the fourth officebearer should be selected would not necessarily need to be part of the Church Order. Feedback (and reasons) on which scenario is desirable is welcome.

My comments on the proposed church order changes: 

Article 12c:   I would have no problem if this article was simply reduced to:  “A minister of the Word may also serve the church in other work which relates directly to the calling of a minister.”   I believe the rest is really unnecessary.  

 

Article 25:   Since the offices of elder and deacon are determined to be unique, I would recommend that they get separate articles which may highlight that uniqueness.  This may have implications for terms of office, as well as for the roles and responsibilities and authority that these offices carry, since they are different from each other (which is why they have distinctly different titles/names). 

 Article 25b:   I would suggest “…shall participate in and promote worship, evangelism, instruction in the faith, and learning, and shall defend the faith…”  Should add in worship, instruction, and learning.  These are sometimes understood, and other times are not done enough.  These are major roles of elders.  

 Artcile 35:   Revise this to the consistory may give an account of its work to the council.   Keep in mind that in a way, consistory and council should also give an account of its work to the congregation.  The problem is what does that really mean?  A brief summary overview?   A detailed report?  Making this a demand or a command will not help communications if there is no desire to communicate.   Each church in essence must make its own decision on this.  

Article 40a:  Should be revised to:  Each classis shall determine whether its churches can delegate two or three officebearers to the sessions of  that classis.  No more than one can be an ordained pastor. 

Article 40b:  Should be revised to:   Each classis shall meet two or three times per year, as the classis determines. 

 Article 42b:   Do not agree with proposed revision “shall include a minister and one other officebearer”.   It is not the role or task or duty of service for deacons to supervise the administration and duties of councils and churches in general in the fashion described in this article.  Especially other churches.  They could be called on for assistance when specific diaconal needs are not being met, or when diaconal leadership and assistance is requested.  Or the diaconal conference can function in that regard. 

 Article 45:   One minister, one elder, and one deacon delegated from each classis to synod sounds good.  

In the Biblical perspective, which I found as a whole to be a good report, all 60 pages, I only have these few comments to make: 

Screen 4.  Matthew 25 talks about the least of these brothers of mine…which would seem to indicate the body of Christ. 

Screen 9-F.  It seems that it would be better and more correct to say that we serve God, by taking care of the land.   We are not servants to the land as much as the land serves us, but we are stewards of the land, for God, since the land belongs to God ultimately.   I would also seem that we do not serve the land itself, but rather its purpose, the purpose that God has for it.  The land itself does not have the capacity to care about the result.   A desert does not feel neglected or harmed if it is converted to fertile field, and a fertile field does not complain feel injured if it its topsoil is moved to another location.   A rock has as much value as a tree, except within the purposes of God.   Man serves creation best when he dies, because then he improves the soil and provides himself as food for the microbes.   But creation itself does not have the ability to be pleased whether man lives or dies.  The pleasure of creation is found in the eyes of man, and the purpose of God.  

 Screen 14-1.  If Eclessiastes 5:9 really says this, then it has been badly translated in  KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT.   All of these say that the king is served from the field.  I would go with their translation – it makes sense with all the rest of scripture.

Screen 27 last paragraph.    Although in almost every case, there is mention of their faith….

35- Acts 4:34.   typo?  For there was not one among them that lacked? 

 Screen 44 II Corinthians 9:12   For the administration of this service.   Or for the doing of this work/service….?

Screen 53:    These works of service can include the ministry/service of the word as well as other types of service, or along with.   

There are some of us that honestly believe we do not have the "gift" of hospitality, because we are shy or introverted. Passages like I Peter 4:9 - 10 (Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.), with the instruction to offer hospitality in place directly alongside an exhortation to use whatever gift you have received seem to support this idea, but careful reading of the passages addressing hospitality make it clear practicing hospitality is a call to all believers, not an encouragement for those with the gift to practice it. Accepting this changes everything: it is NOT someone else's "job" to be hospitable -- it is the call of every believer. That should impact how we engage visitors, folks new to the fellowship and folks that appear lonely or out of place. I am not totally at ease approaching new/unfamiliar folks, but believing it IS what I'm called to do helps me take comfort in the belief that God will bless the effort.

Hi Grace - Please visit our webinars page where upcoming events are always posted weeks (if not months) in advance http://network.crcna.org/webinars. And here's the link to the recording of this webinar http://network.crcna.org/webinar/be-effective-deacon-todays-church

Grace, you're absolutely right.  I'm sorry I didn't relay this information sooner.  During the webinar we lost sound (twice) for a bit - is that the part that is missing, or is there more missing?

Hi this would have been good to listen to, but I was informed of it to late, maybe a little more notice would be good. And in the archive part of it is missing.

I had a similar experience at a church once. I had preached for them that morning (I was pastoring nearby). After the service, nobody approached me. I suppose we could blame it on the message or the style in which it was delivered. That might also explain why I felt very awkward when I tried to join a group of people. But what if it wasn't the message and it wasn't me? I do remember leaving there and thinking, "How would a guest feel?"

The solution, I think, is for one person to start changing how they interact with guests. I watched my mom for years. She would find the person standing alone and go talk to them. She would invite people over to our house for dinner. She would write cards and show care for them. Now - 30 years later! - I look for the person who is new, alone or looks like they feel "out of place." I know, there are many others that I could be developing deeper relationships with. But as a quieter person, I know how hard it is to stand alone.

I agree with you Rebecca.

John, I wanted to respond to your comment about being upset about being a "junior [officer]". (I also commented above, so this is related to my earlier comment.)

You are right that pride could be an issue here if someone objects to being "junior" or sort of "in training" for filling a role. I think the issue that Melissa was trying to get at, though, is not the idea that someone is sort of "rookie" or "in training" when they are new to a role, but that the roles of Elder and Deacon are distinct from one another, so being a Deacon is perhaps not the right "training" ground for a potential future Elder.

I have observed this exact pattern in various churches; the Deacons tend to be younger while the Elders tend to be older and have often served as Deacons previously. But if someone is gifted as a Deacon, perhaps after a time of rest from church leadership, they should be called again to be a Deacon. Or if someone shows gifts that are those we have identified as desirable in an Elder, they should be called to that office first. (I have seen this happen, but more infrequently than the other pattern.)

As you've said, in your congregation, your Elders fill all roles, so how roles are filled is different for you than for a church with separate bodies of Elders and Deacons. But however it is structured, we do well by our leaders to help them identify which of the offices they might best be gifted for, and then, if they are new to an office, to train them and help them learn their roles as "rookies" or "junior officers" as they begin to serve.

As far as a council goes, if there is no distinction in governance between deacons and elders, then there is no need for classes to make a distinction either.  But some churches do make a distinction.   Still it is interesting that the same word we have translated as deacon comes from diakonos, which is also the word that is often translated as "minister".   The term elder as used in the  church comes from the greek term presbyteros, although the word episkopos (overseer) also is used to describe the task of the elders.   In our church, the elders have the dual roles of elder and deacon, somewhat similar to the very early church.   This is mostly because we are a small church. 

I don't know why anyone would be upset by being a junior elder.   Or a junior pastor.   Or a junior deacon.   Unless pride gets in the way.   I get more upset by elders being restricted from fulfilling their roles.   I get upset when elders want to pay someone else to do their jobs. 

Adam - I love that you are asking this question.  I've heard it said that in a 3-year deacon term - the first year, you will probably feel overwhelmed trying to orient yourself and understand what the role is, the second year you will start to find a groove, and the third year you'll be in the groove, and then, it's over.  

The two points Amy and J made are great ways to help a smooth transition.  We have a binder at our church which gets passed from deacon to deacon.  It's definitely helpful - though it can send some new deacons into a panic!  I love the 3 extra months idea that J's congregation does.

Another thing that can be helpful is to have mentors (previous deacons) for new deacons, people who will answer the early questions, but then also continue to lend support as the term continues.

I think it's important to ensure that new deacons know that they have been called and chosen, ordained for this position - and to remind them that God has given them exactly what they need to serve in this way.  Build their confidence, give room for their voice, allow space for questions, and point them to resources that will help them understand the role. I believe affirming deacons (particularly new ones) in this way will create a strong deacon team.

It used to be the case that the "general board of directors" of local CRC churches was often just the Elders and the Pastor.  We called that (in CO) Consistory.  And then there were also the Deacons, a separate group.

These days, that structure has been changed.  Now, the "general board of directors" is the Council, which by CO definition I believe is the elders (including pastor) and the deacons.

Any local church may of course designate (in its Articles of Incorporation generally) that only Elders and the Pastor are the "board of directors" but I think more often than not it is the entire Council that is the board of directors, which means that most decisions are made by both Elders and Deacons together, which specialized tasks (ie. church discipline for Elders and benevolence for Deacons) remain the "specialty" of each separate group.

All of which is to say that while in the past, the position of Deacon was something of "Jr Elder," there is much less cause -- arguably no cause -- to so regard it these days, given the "shift" from Consistory to Council.

I love finding out about all these different resources!  Thanks for highlighting this!

Excellent!  Webinars are a great way to get additional training.  There is one coming up in less than a month for deacons "How To Be An Effective Deacon In Today's Church".  Should be good too!

The Christian Reformed Church of St. Joseph (Michigan) has their "retiring" elders and deacons stay an extra 3 months to help transition the incoming elders and deacons.  It seems to work for them.  Maybe a thought for you. 

yes, I'll be asking for votes in an upcoming blog post :-) I'm really excited about the second edition of When Helping Hurts. So many churches ask me what to do once they've read it.

Christian Service Ministries is a ministry of Classis Chicago South committed to helping pastors, deacons, elders,, and other lay leaders.  Christian Service Ministries provides training, resources, and networking.  Usually 6 seminars, roundtable discussions are presented each year.  Visit:  www.christianserviceministries.org or find us on facebook at our page:  Christian Service Ministries.  You may also email or call if interested. 

Wendy is willing to present the webinar "Getting Going in Helping without Hurting" if it gets enough votes. See http://network.crcna.org/webinars/ and click on the "Proposed" tab.

Wendy - this is a great resource!  Thank you for sharing.

Communities First Association, a nonprofit birthed out of CRWRC, provides training for asset based community development primarily in the U.S. Many of its members used to do diaconal training under CRWRC's North America Ministry Team, and although their focus is now on helping churches to do community development, a number of them also do deacon training http://communitiesfirstassociation.org

A few years ago the deacons in my church developed a binder/handbook which gets passed to deacons for their term of service; departing deacons pass theirs onto those just coming on board.  It includes lists of tasks for each area of responsibility (treasurer, benevolence, chair, secretary, etc.), as well as guidelines for developing the yearly budget, benevolence policies, and a brief history of the church.  It also includes the various IRS tax identification numbers, benevolence forms, contact information for special offering recipients, the church by-laws, and the yearly calendar of special offerings (denominational causes like CRWRC, local charities, etc.).  This entire document then gets reviewed and updated every year or two to reflect any changes in the church.

Melissa, thanks for this! The timing of this is wonderful. I wonder how many people are aware of what also happened after the public apology by the government in 2008. On June 12, 2010 there was a National Forgiven Summit held in Ottawa. This was the culmination of months of heart preparation and sharing the message of Freedom through Forgiveness through the Journey of Freedom. The Journey team consisted of representatives from many First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities. They travelled through the provinces and territories of Canada sharing their stories of healing and hope. They ended in Ottawa where they gathered with government, church, First Nations, Inuit and Metis representatives. There is a DVD called "The Release" of this gathering. There is more information on

http://www.gatheringnations.ca/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=136&Itemid=171

At this Forgiven Summit on June 12, 2010, Kenny Blacksmith was the main representative for the First Nations, Inuit and Metis. Now he is coming to BC and speaking in 5 places starting on April 21 in Prince George, Burns Lake, Gitsegukla, Kitimat and on the 29th in Terrace.

Could we, the Christian Reformed churches lift this up in prayer?  Please pray for Kenny, his wife Louise and all the other ones who are part of this tour called "Freedom 2012". We believe that this is timely and we believe in freedom and justice for our First peoples. May we be joined together in forgiveness, reconciliation and love.

In our church, we have aboriginal members:  three children.   Also we have one adult who has some american aboriginal ancestry.  We welcome them all.  The three children are adopted by different families.  They are open adoptions so friendly relationships with bio-parents are maintained.  In one case, relationships with bio-grandparents and aunts are also continued.

The apostles were also regarded as elders.   So I don't think there is evidence that deacons were needed before elders.(not that it really matters...).  The Acts passage mentions selection of seven men, but as far as I can see does not specifically identify them as deacons.....although we make the assumption that's what they are.

"Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them."" " 

  1. 1 Peter 5:1
     To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:
     
  2. 2 John 1:1
    The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth—
     
  3.  3 John 1:1
    The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

Both "deacon" and "minister" and "servant" are derived from the greek word "diakonos".

A gift was already presented to elders in Acts 11, before elders were mentioned being appointed in Acts 14.

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