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Diakonia Remixed - The Final Report

The final report from Diakonia Remixed: Office of the Deacon Task Force is available for reading!  Want the link? It's here!

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The Deacon Network Under Review - Top Blogs To Read!

Wondering what some of the hot reads have been on the Deacon Network?  Wonder no more - here's a list of the top blogs based on interest and rating!

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Webinar Recording
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Getting Started as a New Deacon (2012)

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 deacon’s partners in ministry.

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New Deacon Resource - Getting Started as a New Deacon

Just in case you didn't get a chance to attend the webinar today with Donn Hansum of Volunteers in Action, here's a link to the recording of " Getting Started as a New Deacon ." Two accompanying handouts are also available for downloading at that link. They're titled - "Goal Setting as Deacons" and "Plan of Action Form & Guide."
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Need Encouragement?

Our diaconal responsibilities may sometimes feel repetitive or the nature of needs we're facing may be daunting.  There comes a time when a break from the typical is helpful to refocus our energies and inspire us in new ways.  Diaconal Ministires of Canada is hosting two "Day of Encouragement" events - and it could be exactly what you're looking for right now!

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Deacon Related Webinar Alert!

On October 17th at 9am EST there is a webinar feature for deacons (or anyone really)!  This is a great opportunity  to gain practical information about what a deacon is, does and how to partner and serve well in your community!  All the information is here... 

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Everyone's A Deacon!

There's the old joke about how the Bible says that the man is always supposed to make coffee - HE BREWS - but I'm not making a joke when I say WE'RE ALL DEACONS!  Are you surprised?  Worried? Eager? Confused? 

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Deacons - Be Known!

It's easy to assume everyone knows who the deacons are, or what they do in a congregation, however that's not the truth!  And when people are confused about what a deacon is, or who to contact when there is a concern, your ministry will not fully attain all its potential. Here are 5 things you can do to be known in your congregation:

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What We Don't See [Video]

In order to serve well as deacons we need to be in tune to the needs of the congregation and community in which we serve. How good are your observational skills?  Take this awareness test and find out! (You don't have to be a deacon to take the test!)

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Lies and Listening

Tonight one of my friends asked me how I was doing. I replied "good" in an optimistic voice and continued on with what I was doing. Another friend walking behind me replied, "you know, it's okay if you aren't good". I paused and had to acknowledge that she was right. I had given a programmed response.  Are you as quick to lie and prevent authentic conversation?
 

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Summertime Reflection

It's summertime!  As this is often a "slower" time in ministry, it becomes a great time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead! 

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Disabilities and Deacons: Stories and Resources

Deacons who serve well work hard at connecting with members of the congregation, organizing ministry, and finding appropriate resources. This final installment on deacons and people with disabilities suggests ideas for ministry and provides some resources to implement those ideas.

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Disabilities and Deacons: Catalysts For Change

Deacons are catalysts for change and it's only natural that that would include working for justice in our churches for people with disabilities.  Join us for Part 3 of our 4 part series exploring the connectedness between Disability Concerns and Deacons.

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Disabilities and Deacons: Defining Disability

To minister well with people who have disabilities, we need to understand the wide range of disability and the ways in which all of us can unintentionally exclude people with disabilities from the life and ministry of our churches.

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Disabilities and Deacons: Hand in Hand?

People with disabilities are often marginalized in our communities and our churches.  Join Mark and myself over the next four weeks as we explore how what disabilities are, what they might look like in our midst, and how Deacons can be a catalyst for justice for people with disabilities.

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Looking Beyond The Trees

When we become task focused we can lose sight of what God is calling us to, or asking of us - as individuals and churches. What would it look like for us to stop staring at the trees, but rather see beyond the immediate and discover our unique ways of serving.

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The Diakonia Remixed Preliminary Report

The Office of the Deacon Task Force, Diakonia Remixed, is back again with their preliminary report!  They are looking for feedback before June 30th.  Check out the work they have been doing and share  your thoughts about the changes they are recommending. Are you curious about what it says?

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Webinar Recording
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Be an Effective Deacon in Today's Church

Join us as we identify the main roles of the deacon, discuss how deacons can be more effective with benevolence needs, as well as learn how to encourage good stewardship of time, talent and finances in the congregation.

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Deacon Webinar Alert!

TOMORROW (May 16th, noon) we have the opportunity to participate in a webinar geared specifically to the work of deacons. Join Bernita Tuinenga and Dave Ellens as they identify the main roles of the deacon, discuss how they can be more effective with benevolence needs, and learn how to encourage good stewardship...

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The Mercy Of Hospitality

Showing hospitality can take many different forms as it's expressed through different people and in a variety of situations. Lately I've been thinking about hospitality as an act of mercy. Mercy for the person who is alone. Mercy for the person who feels uncomfortable in a social setting. Mercy for the person who needs assistance.

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Deacon Support Networks

We all need a little help now and then. Though we may like to believe we can do it ourselves, we actually might be able to do our ministry more effectively by getting some assistance. Fortunately for deacons there are organizations and resources available to support us. In this blog two are named - and we're looking for more... 

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How to do elder/deacon orientation and hand-off?

In June, our congregation will elect new elders and deacons. As deacons, we have recently begun talking about ways to effective transition the tasks of retiring deacons to those who remain and those who will be joining, and to orient the new deacons to the office and its responsibilities. Rather than trying to continue going it alone, we were hoping that some folks out here on the network would have some good ideas on how to do transition and orientation effectively.
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Truth And Reconciliation

As the church we have the responsibility to act justly - yet we often shy away from complex justice issues.  In Canada, a new initiative is seeking truth and reconciliation for those Aboriginal persons and communities that have been affected by attending residential schools. How should we respond as individuals, churches and a denomination?

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Sermons We See

A poem by Edgar Guest reminds us that our lives are sermons, and invites us as leaders to live out our faith - as it is often more powerful to see a sermon lived out than to listen to one.  "I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell ..."

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Deacons: An Elder Training Ground

The role of the deacon is best utilized to prepare people to become elders.  Useful as a "training ground" for future elders, the office of the deacon is the perfect place to introduce folks to council without having too much responsibility!  NEWSFLASH: This isn't the truth!  

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Thank you!

Scott,

Although I don't consider myself a Greek Geek as Professor Weima would say I do know enough Greek to give you at least part of an answer.  The word that you are referring to is γυνή.  It means woman or wife.  Deaconess is a stretch and I'm not sure why the translators chose that word other than, like you said, the word fits with the rest of the section.

My church did this on Sunday and it was GREAT! Over 150 people of all ages participated.

After the morning service we all walked over to the nearby park for a picnic, and then divided up into groups:
- praying (a prayerwalk around the neighborhood)
- visiting (at a facility for seniors)
- painting and yard cleanup (at our church's new community house)
- creating (duct tape wallets (!) and coloring lunch bags for a local shelter)
- picking up trash (in the neighborhood school playground)

The week before, our pastor gave 'permission' for everyone to show up to church in clothes suitable for painting/cleaning/etc. The worship service was very meaningful and challenging, with a message that tied right into the afternoon of service. 

Thanks to ServiceLink for initiating this. Our church found it so great that we're wondering about doing it again next year.

 

You can also check out Faith Alive's third edition of Discover Your Gifts and Learn How to Use Them.   http://www.faithaliveresources.org/Products/216580/discover-your-gifts-student-book.aspx  The study guide includes the gifts assessment, and there is a code in the back of the book to do the test online.

Our church has also used this online assessement for potential office bearers:  http://www.umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.1355371/k.9501/Spiritual_Gifts.htm

Grace,

Excellent suggestion, though that is not typically a spiritual gifts inventory. That is closer to what is called a talent/tithe, tithing your talents. If you or Milissa or anyone else wants a copy and how to use it just let me know as I had a hand in developing one that is used around north Amercia. I will email you a copy that you can modify and use in your own congregation.

Mike

Morning Milissa;

I was at the dissability Conference in Kitchener, at one of the sessions. And a person talked about a gift survey their church did where they asked the people of their congregation what they enjoyed to do. EX: Cut the grass, sew, paint, clean house, dishes, make food, babysit , do plumbing, repairs, driving, meet new people, teaching etc. And when a need arose they had some one on their list already they could call without asking needing to ask everyone all the time. This way too you can ask different people to help, rather then the same ones who could get burnt out easily. I find someone is more willing to help out if they like what they are doing.I also find if you ask people individually rather than as an anouncement, it works better. So that is what I'm looking for. Thanks Grace

Hi Grace. I haven't actually seen a gift survey, or been part of one, but I'm curious what information you'd be trying to get, and how you'd plan on using the results.

Grace, 

Terry's suggestion of "When Helping Hurts" is a great one.  I would also invite you to peruse the Diaconal Ministries of Canada website: http://www.diaconalministries.com/.  They have a whole section of information and resources on equipping deacons.  

There is also a resource section here on The Network.  You can check it out: http://network.crcna.org/content/deacons/all-resources?quicktabs_7=2#quicktabs-7

I'm a big fan of learning while doing, so I would suggest to start implementing what you're reading and learning by going on visits (either with another deacon, your pastor or an elder), or exploring your church's neighbourhood more to find out what the needs in your area are (if you don't already know!).

You definitely don't need to wait a year - you seem to be really excited and passionate, and I'd say, jump in with both feet!  (And when you have questions - don't be afraid to ask!)

Grace, a good next step is to get the book "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself" http://www.chalmers.org/when-helping-hurts/book.php and work through the "When Helping Hurts"
Ministry Training Webinars http://www.chalmers.org/when-helping-hurts/webinar/schedule.php or Self/Group-study Guide http://www.chalmers.org/when-helping-hurts/self-study.php with your fellow deacons.

I would love some kind of traing as I'm a new Deacon. I was told the first year is just to observe and you'll learn what you need to know, but I want more. I've already read the book " The Deacon's handbook" . What else can I do to learn? Thanks Grace. p.s I've registered for 'The day of Encouragement' too.

If you encourage giving through a smart phone during the service then people still feel like they are participating in worship. The act  of participation is still in effect if you encourage giving for those that are not likely to remember to put money in the offering plate.  If you set up an account with PayPal and connect it to your  back account, debit card or PayPal account then any smart phone will act as a wallet during the service.  If the minister then takes out his/her own smart phone during the offering and shows the congregation that it only takes a few seconds to make a donation than people will respond quickly.  Options are not an option anymore.  Our church has a lot of people under 40 and most of them have a smart phone.  In 5 years I predict that you will see a dramatic increase in electronic giving during the service. Making an actual donation is better than putting a card in the plate from a previous donation.  A cheque or an electronic donation from the pew is better than a card that only signifies a donation. 

Grace,

The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) has on on their website in their archives. you might try that or the CRC use to have a great survey package so you may want to check with Faith Alive.

 

Here is the ELCA site.

http://archive.elca.org/evangelizingchurch/assessments/spiritgifts.html 

 

What a great and helpful response. Thanks for your attention.

Fred, thank you for alerting me to the PAR oversight. I have corrected it to prevent future confusion (or irritation)!

Thank you for the devotional suggestion, Terry.  I will definitely look into it.

 

As for the suggested calendar, my thought was that the curriculum being created could be completed in one year, or potentially three years (given that most diaconal terms are of this length), and that the curriculum developers would provide a schedule upon which the curriculum should be completed.  For example, the description of the role of the deacon (a potential first training) should be completed within the first month, or the first quarter of the year.  Having this sort of schedule would help the chair of the deacons keep his or her diaconate on track when it comes to training, knowing what they should cover and on what timeframe.  I hope that this provides some texture around my thinking, but please feel free to ask again if not.

A good subject for discussion. I think regular giving is necessary, and likely helps stimulate more generous support than just when someone is moved to do so. But it should not replace regular offerings for thankfulness, special needs, etc.

As an aside, please don't use acronyms like PAR, without their meaning in brackets at first use. I had never heard of this acronym or the full term before, and it irritated me as I read this useful article.

Adam, your response provides very helpful input to the Office of Deacon Task Force. But I'm not sure that I understand your comments regarding a "suggested calendar." Would you please clarify?

A devotional resource appropriate for deacons already exists. Amy Sherman has written "Sharing God's Heart for the Poor" and can be ordered at http://www.cepbookstore.com/p-6188-sharing-gods-heart-for-the-po.aspx. "This inspiring and convicting to action devotional booklet gives 17 short reflections on God's compassion for the poor and His desire to see His body actively love and serve the needy."

You have posed an excellent question, Melissa, and I appreciate deeply that it is being addressed here, as it is something that we are currently working through in our diaconate.  From our perspective, the answer would be a resounding yes to a defined training curriculum.

As a bit of background on the training program for our diaconate, while we had a more shoulder to shoulder approach to training in past year, we found that information could not be adequately passed down from year to year, especially to new deacons, without something in writing.  We began using the Deacon’s Handbook from Faith Alive last year and found it helpful.  This year, we decided to create a somewhat slimmed down version that spoke more directly to what a deacon’s role is in our congregation specifically.  This has served as a good resource to this point, but we certainly view it only as a first edition, and hope that it will change to meet the needs of our current deacons, as well as future deacons.

Though we don’t have a specific training calendar in place, we have sought out training opportunities and taken advantage when they have arisen.  We have participated in conferences (“The Power of With”) and deacon roundtables in an effort to broaden our knowledge on the topics relevant to our congregation and community.  This weekend, we (along with Christian Service Ministries) are sponsoring a training session on the topic of benevolent ministry, as we noticed that this was a particular opportunity for growth in our diaconate.  This training has allowed us to include deacons from neighboring congregations and classes, as well as with our ecumenical partners.

Even though we have used some of the existing tools for training and developed some of our own, to have a set training curriculum for deacons, complete with interactive and/or multimedia tools would be invaluable.  As part of this curriculum, I would hope that there would be a suggested calendar, so that training could take place on a set schedule.  Additionally, while this may be somewhat outside the scope of a training curriculum, it would be beneficial to have devotionals that could be used during each deacons meeting.  By beginning our meetings with a reminder about the call of the deacons or through words of encouragement, we would draw our focus to the special role that the Lord is allowing us to fill, and how we might be servants to those around us.

One of the most talked about issues recently has been the increasing national debt, and a popular feeling regarding how to fix it is to start taxing the wealthy at an increased rate. There aren't enough rich individuals to go around for taxing them to do a whole lot. Source for this article: Taxing the rich to pay off national debt probably would not work. I also heard that Republicans have lost ground in public trust to deal with both issues, economy and deficit, now trailing Obama by 12- and 9-point margins, respectively.

Thanks for the link Lisa.  This sounds like a great opportunity for churches to participate.

This is a really great topic, one that I definitely struggle with.  I think we so often feel like if we're busy doing "God's work" then there couldn't possibly be conflict at home (how can it be bad if it's for a good, Godly cause?)  Finding balance is SO hard... especially when there are SO many needs, committees, and ministries that are short-handed.  I've had to learn to say no to some really great things, I don't flatter myself by thinking I'm the ONLY solution but yet it's hard for me to pass up a plea for help when "I guess there's no reason I couldn't do it" and I want to help.  It's a constant struggle but I'm pretty sure God doesn't want burnt out servants spreading themselves so thin so that the work isn't effective.  I know that in my church, it seems like a dedicated few do the bulk of the work, how can we encourage "new blood" to get involved, refresh our ministries, and lighten the load so that people's gifts can be used more effectively? 

Hi Rebecca,

You can go to this link and check it out.  Lisa

http://www.crcna.org/pages/servicelink_dayofservice.cfm

Lisa, I am unaware of this national program and I'd be interested in learning more. Do you have any links you can share? Thanks!

When I was in college, for a semester abroad that I spent in Uganda, we were required to read a book by John Taylor, entitled "The Primal Vision" It's emphasis was on being present with others. It was not an easy read, but it was good and it set the tone for our entire semester there. I would highly recommend it as a help on this topic.

How do you speak truth?   Say this:  "Why are you bitter?  Why are you bitter when others are worse off, and much less bitter?"   and then feed them some chocolate, or pot pie, or vanilla pudding.  and help them to find encouragement.   Do not be afraid to spend some of your money on them if necessary.   Spend time to listen. 

They must throw off their own burden of regret, realizing that Christ carries the burden.  Our sins are forgiven, and no more fishing to bring them back up. 

Bad choices?  Hope?   Christ offers hope.   I make enough bad choices of my own.   We all need that hope. 

The "elders rule" and "deacons serve" is a false and misleading statement.  Elders and deacons both rule and both serve within their calling and office.   Each office has a unique mandate which requires leadership, ruling and serving within that sphere.  

The phrase became popular during the women in office debate because it helped some people get around "headship".  In effect they were saying, that the elders are given spiritual authority  by Christ to oversee and "rule" the body on His behalf.  They wanted to compartmentalize the ruling aspect to the elders to allow for women deacons so they would not violate their ideas of male headship in the deacon office.   

Personally I have always thought this was a false distinction to make.  The Bible teaches clearly that Christ is head of the church.   I think we should be careful about assuming a title for ourselves that the Bible only gives to Christ.  There is no place that says "The elders are the head of the church."  

So let us all look to Christ, our head, as we rule and serve within our respective offices.   Jon Westra

    

Thank you for your insights.  Whether one is doing the work of a deacon or that of a hospice chaplain (myself), possibly the most significant thing we do is to be present, be silent, be good listeners.  Again, thank you for sharing your wisdom.

James, nice to meet you! I think it's amazing that we can have a conversation about partnering. I definitely want to dialogue with you more about how we can serve/share with each other! I'll be in touch! (And maybe other curious/interested deacons will be too!)

Thanks Stan! I look forward to your insights and comments! I had followed the links, and laughed at the clever space fillers. The site looks good, I was impressed we even had one! Nice work!

Tammy! That is such a great connection to make. Thank you for sharing it. I love the question you've posed, and I too am curious to hear the stories. I wonder if you have one that can start us off?

P. S. Thanks for joining the Network! :) I'm glad you're here.

Jean Vanier, founder of L'arche, focuses on building community with others by being present with them.  Your post made me think of what a ministry of presence could look like for deacons and our churches.  It is challenging to slow down our pace - getting beyond meeting agendas and 'to do' lists, to just being present with others.  I wonder what stories of being present are out there?

Karl, thank you for the work that you have done, I hope you will continue to contribute to The Network. Your wisdom is much appreciated.

I work as a Deacons coordinator in Kenya for the Reformed Church of East Africa, Deacons department in Kenya. I would be happy if we could receive volunteer deacons work / partner with our deacons care committee in kenya. Looking for partners in deacons ministry.

Contact on this email.

Hi Melissa! I'm looking forward to your contributions to the Network! (And your link to our classis website reminds me of my summer project to complete it! Did you try clicking on Links or Contacts?) ~Stan

One more comment, Melissa.   In some smaller churches or even in some larger churches, there should be no shame attached to having continuing service by some deacons or elders, if there is a small pool of eligible office bearers.   Some pastors have served continually in one church for twenty years, and if there is a need for this there should be no reason why longer terms or extended terms for some elders and deacons could not occur in the same way.    If there is a sense of calling, rather than just a job to get it over and done with, then this extended term will not seem unnatural or difficult when there is a need for it. 

Good question, Melissa.  Possibly you could guess at the answers also.  Let me think out loud (on paper) a bit.   I suspect there are a combination of reasons.   Let me start with the calling of preachers.   Ministers used to have a calling that really trusted in the Lord, both for the calling, and for provision.   Some ministers really resisted the formation of a pension fund, just for that reason, because it seemed to take out the connection between the health of the church and providing for retired ministers.  As time went on, the preacherhood became more of a career, rather than a calling (in spite of what it is called).   This attitude also had an effect on everyone else, so that a farmer or carpenter now had a career instead of a calling, and it was mostly about making a living rather than providing a service or doing God's work in your daily occupation as a plumber or painter.  This is a subtle shift in attitude, unnoticed by most people. 

So this subtle shift also began to impact the roles of elder and deacon.   These became tasks and jobs to do rather than a calling by God, but they were tasks without pay, and so became just another volunteer opportunity, competing with the myriads of other volunteer opportunities in any community, including in the church. 

Associated with this is the increase in respect for wealth, for fiscal planning, for leisure, and the decline  of respect for sacrifice and service and calling.  

One more aspect of the lack of respect for calling is the perceived difference in calling for preachers vs elders and deacons.  In many cases, too much stuff is shoved to preachers, as if they are the only spiritual leaders.   This is very harmful to the other roles.   The church order states these offices are equal in honor, but the church order itself does not treat them as equal in honor, and people including pastors do not treat them with the honor they require.   Stating that a minister is of the word and sacraments is not necessary, for example.   There is no reason that an elder could not administer the sacraments, and they should be encouraged to do so, by taking turns especially at Lord's supper.   Elders ought to pronounce the blessings and benedictions without assuming that they are somehow less worthy to do so.  These things do not require a masters of divinity, and thus there is no justification for making a distinction, other than wanting to make preachers into priests, which is not reformed, and not scriptural. 

When preachers are asked to pray or lead at some social events, they ought to decline often, or deliberately ask an elder or deacon or former leader to do so, just to emphasize and teach the value of these callings.  

This leadership training also occurs elsewhere such as in the home or at other activities.   When we are at various board meetings or bible studies or at home having devotions around the table, we make a point of taking turns reading the bible, or praying, or leading in devotions, encouraging as many as possible to participate over time so that they have more opportunity to feel enriched, and less intimidated.  

Family visiting was not only a chance to encourage families or listen to their concerns, but it was also a training by experienced elders and pastors for the newer and younger elders and pastors as to how to deal with and introduce spiritual matters and concerns and answers into a family setting.   The less that is done is also resulting in a reduction of the training that used to happen.  

The task of deacon has improved a bit over the years as it has become more proactive, I think.   But I'm not sure if the message and reason for diaconal work that Stephen was stoned for, is obvious in the work of the deacons.   Deacons also ought to be able to give a clear reason for their life and work and calling in such a way that the glory always is given to God, and that the message of Christ's sacrifice and body of believers is obvious.   That is their calling. 

I also want to say that men are strange beasts.   Often they will leave tasks to women, if the women will do them.   This seems to be the case in several mainline denominations, where when women entered into the offices of elders and deacons and pastors, there was the result of a direct decline of men who felt called to those offices.   Maybe it was coincidental, maybe not.   If men do not lead in the church, they will be less likely to feel the need to lead in the home.   The lack of leadership by men in families has a direct result on the committment of the children to their faith life, and so a generation or two later, the children who grow up do not see their service in the church as a calling.  

While I hear your theory of "busyness", it has been my experience that people have always been busy.   Often busier in the past than today.   But they often set different priorities for their "busyness". 

Perhaps you also have some insights or theories on "the shrinking pool of people"?   I would be interested to hear them. 

John, I really appreciate the deeper insight you've offered in this comment.  I am wondering if you have any further thoughts on how the view of office you have reminded us of morphed into the current view of office as just another task to do, because it seems to have eroded quite quickly in recent years.   

Karl, your statement, "too many pastors are dying for a lack of feedback" hit me when I read it the second time.   I find it a shame that lack of feedback should cause preachers to die since we should be working for the Lord, not for approval of men.   But on the other hand, I understand that a lack of response really makes you wonder about the impact of what you are doing, and whether it is appreciated or not.    I suggest that if preachers or elders or deacons want feedback, that they not be too shy to ask for it.   That they ask for it in a way that is meaningful to them.   That they ask specific questions.   They may not always get the answers they expect, nor as complete as they would like, but it will be better than silence or absence of reaction.   I must admit however, that I really enjoy the unsolicited comments the most. 

posted in: Feedback to Pastors

I agree Karl, that deacons can provide feedback to the preachers, pastors, elders, and cleaning staff, although it should be done in a charitable, positive, constructive and loving way.    Perhaps the way to start this is for deacons themselves also to ask for feedback from the congregation, and from elders and pastors.   This will help them to understand how to give feedback to others, and it may encourage others also to ask for feedback.   It may also be helpful to start with deacons giving feedback to each other, and then go on from there.  

posted in: Feedback to Pastors

I've always assumed it was mandatory to bring the church budget to the annual congregational meeting for approval.  All churches I have been in have done this.   All non-profits societies and charities are required to have an annual meeting of membership with proper notice, which approves the financial statement and the next years budget, at least in Canada.   This also improves communication, and increases understanding and "ownership".    Sometimes adjustments to budget are made at the annual congregational meeting.  

This budgeting is not done by the deacons, but by the council as a whole in cooperation with the treasurer, who may or may not be a member of council, but usually is not.   Generally the deacons submit a list of proposed offerings to the council for approval, but this is not part of the budget as it is over and above the budget. 

We do not use pledges, but rather assume the giving on the principles of giving as the Lord blesses, and as the need arises. 

If you are in the tornado zone, you may want to consider what you can do to help there.   Perhaps gather a group of young people for a few days of cleaning up, or home building, or sorting of materials.... 

At one time, long, long ago, if you were nominated for an office, it was understood that you could not say "no", since you were called if chosen.   The spiritual value of the office, and the spiritual responsibility of all professing members and the implicit promise that they would serve where called, meant that the main difficulty for a council nominating new members was whether they met the qualifications of office, being apt to teach, being of good character, and ruling their households well.  

If the elder and deacon are seen only as another task, and not as a specific calling, then it is easy to say, "no, I won't serve as deacon, but perhaps I could clean the sidewalk, or paint the walls, or teach a class, or pay a little more to hire someone else to do the painting and lawncutting.   Or maybe we could pay a lilttle more to hire another pastor... "   The engagement should be at a spiritual level.   Leadership does not mean looking at a budget, or listening to reports.   It means listening to the Lord, and shaping the budget, and directing new ministries or invigorating old ministries.     The excitement of listening to the Lord needs to infiltrate everyone, and thus it will also infiltrate potential leaders. 

We adopt the church budget at a congregational meeting in December for the following Jan-Dec.  A committee is put in charge of creating the budget, and the congregation is welcome to ask any questions they'd like before they affirm the work of the committee and take ownership of the budget.  

At a spring congregational meeting we review the audited financial statements and previous years budget results.

Everyone, including deacons, are in a position to encourage one another.   True contentment, confidence, and stability come from a trust in God, that God knows what He is doing, even when people do not.   Putting our confidence in humans or horses will miss the mark, and we will always be disappointed.   Maybe stability should not be our goal, however.  Perhaps our goal ought to be to seek God's will, whether it is stability or lack of stability, whether it is trial or comfort, whether it is triumph or struggle.  God often seems to do His work through our trials and struggles, perhaps more than through our stability and earthly security. 

I agree with Rebecca, I like that list Karl. :D

To add to that list our deacon team has also done the following:

a. Gather food offerings from the congregation monthly for a local ministry we are in relationship with and our food bank, and then distribute that.

b. Host a budgeting session, to teach interested persons about biblical financial principles and actually teach them how to create a budget that works.

c. Count the offerings, informing the congregation monthly about how much has been received, and managing the financial resources for benevolence [which has been used for groceries, rent, medications, tuition, simple gifts]

d. Write notes to people in our congregation, either those ill for whom we have been in prayer, or thank yous to people who have helped us in serving.

e. Create the offering schedule and promote an offering at least once a month.

f. Increase congregational awareness of various deacon "things". For instance: items that may be confusing on the budget, benevolence,  tithing and stewardship, or the PAR program. 

g. Utilize DMC [www.diaconalministries.com] resources, both online and in person, to enhance our understanding of our roles and generate new ideas.

h. Intentially be present in the community [both in and around the church] developing relationships [new and old] and engaging in conversations so that we know those we are serving.

i. Met with members of our Missions Committee to discuss and develop ways that would allow us to build deeper relational contacts with the organizations we support through our church offerings.

j. The chair of the deacons has connected with each deacon for a 1-1 check in, asking about how they are doing, addressing any concerns, and offering affirmation and encouragement.

k. Regular visiting with a diverse group of individuals/families, sometimes because they have particular needs, sometimes just to say "hello". 

l. We attempted to organize rides to church on Sundays  for those who needed them, however, at the time no one seemed to be in need of one. [We are continually aware of this being a potential need].

 

The deacon role is so diverse, it's often hard to know what to do or where to start... but we've just been praying,  trying to pay attention to the community we're part of and be proactive in our service... knowing that God is moving and we've been invited to partner with Him.  

I love gathering ideas, sharing thoughts, and celebrating the collective wisdom we're surrounded by... so I'm looking forward to more responses :D

Karl, thanks for chiming in with some great ideas, and for all your thoughtful posts on this forum! Rebecca

I love lists!    So thanks for the opportunity to make one!  I'm going to make a short list, based on what I've seen in my own church, and based also a bit on what I'd LIKE to see!

1.  Deaconal praying, maybe with a deaconal prayer partner.  Specific prayers about stewardship opportunitites, needs, persons, the deacons themselves, community needs, the church...

2.  Deaconal contacts.  Either with another deacon, or with an elder partner, stay in touch with your section of the congregation, say by phone monthly, and by a visit once or twice a year.   And as needed with people in need.  Building relationships of trust and understanding.  

3.  Read articles or books on a regular basis that can help you deepen and broaden your vision and your understanding, and can help you bring new skills, ideas, or approaches to the deacons' meetings.

4.  Check in on the Diakonia Remixed site to see what this task force is up to.

5.  Make sure there is something once a month or so planned for inclusion in the worship service that will help the congregation learn about  a deaconal need, project, or service in the community or globally.

6.  Set aside a time regularly to check over the minutes from the last deacons' meeting, and to get prepared for the next one. Work with your chair of deacons to make sure that there is good followup and good homework so that meetings have continuity, and a sense of both community and accomplishment are strong.   

What do you find helpful here?   What doesn't ring any bells for you?   What do others find useful in thinking about a disciplined routine of deaconal activity?   

Thanks for your question, Rebecca!

Our congregation votes on the next year's church budget at our annual December meeting.  The deacons solict funding requests from the various committee heads during the fall and then work to craft a budget that balances needs, anticipated giving, and church goals.  The congregation receives a basic line item budget two weeks before the meeting, so that they have time to review it and voice any major concerns before the actual meeting.  We often get lively discussion that requires that the deacons provide more detailed explanations of budget items, but in my experience we've always ended up with a budget that gets (near) unanimous support by the time it reaches the congregational vote. 

Our church is fairly small (about 100 adult professing members), so generating "buy-in" isn't as difficult since almost everyone is involved in at least one church activity receiving budget funds and many sit on committees that have to submit their funding requests each year.

We do a similar thing to what Melissa's church does, except we're a little late on it (we actually end up approving the Jan-Dec. budget in Feb. of that same year, somewhat retroactively).

As far as "ownership" goes, one thing that we've done is we've encourage people to make ministry proposals that could be included as project based initiatives in the budget each year--this give people an opportunity to put something on their hearts into the budget and make it tangible.

Otherwise, I've heard of churches that do a totally pledge-based budget (and I think this is a great idea). They gather pledges in November or so, and then make their budget ONLY out of the money in the pledges. This way, if the people do not pledge "enough" then ministries get cut. If they pledge "extra" then the church can take on extra ministries. 

That kind of budget only works though if the church is serious about biting the bullet and will actually cut things if there's no money and/or add things if there is. This way the church membership sees a direct correlation between what they put in and what comes out. If you do it halfway, like some churches do, where they collect the pledges, but their budget is still based on what they "usually" do, then you'll just end up with people not making pledges and the whole thing will be a waste of time for everyone.

I'm not sure how to make the transition from our type of budget to the one I just talked about in an already established church, but I'm thinking about talking about it with the Council and seeing if we could head that way...any suggestions would be appreciated!

in His service,

 

Dan.

Praise God...I do share your excitement!!  Those are very significant breakthroughs for your congregation and the denomination.  I find it very interesting that the opportunities all seem to be focused on the younger generation.   Very encouraging signs - definitely not coincidence...keep us posted...you know, we need a blog for testimonies...God is moving and it seems with increasing speed and number of signs and wonders...let's make a remembering wall of what He is doing, and what He has done!

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