There are around 250 Christian Reformed Churches in Canada -from Houston, BC to Saskatoon, SK., Montreal, QC to Charlottetown, PEI, and everything in between. There are urban churches, suburban churches, rural churches and small town churches. And most of those churches have diaconates.
But those diaconates do not look the same. Some have 12 deacons working as a team and others have 3. There are deacons praying for each other. Some diaconates study a book that develops their understanding and leadership capacity. Some diaconates struggle with seeing their role beyond collecting offerings. Some laugh together and live fully into their role and work. Some feel the weight of responsibility or find it hard to manage their time. There are diaconates that discern deeply the best way to support the marginalized and vulnerable. There are those who ask hard questions about injustice and the church’s role.
Many diaconates are made up of some of the most passionate, genuine, thoughtful, sensitive and good- natured people the Canadian CRC has to offer.
There are deacons with cowboy boots and 4×4 trucks that pull up early -and I mean early- on a Saturday morning to move a single mom and her three kids into a new home. Deacons who come armed with Tim Horton’s coffee and a binder, ready to dig into an evening meeting straight after work with barely time to eat supper (or it might be a Tim Horton’s donut that will get them through).
Deacons are organizing, shopping, cooking and serving dinner to the seniors in their church. Deacons are young and new to the role while others are, well, “seasoned.” Men. Women. Jokesters. Extroverts and introverts.
There are deacons strategizing ways to connect their church to local opportunities for ministry. Deacons are intentionally learning about vulnerable and marginalized people in their community and the injustices and challenges they face. Deacons welcome refugees. They challenge the congregation in stewardship. Deacons build relationships with Indigenous communities.
Deacons are also prayerfully discerning -about what ministries to support as a church, and why. There are conversations about how to work in partnership with elders. Decisions about what kind of support to extend to a family going through crisis.
These are the deacons who shape the ministry of the church in the most profound ways.
We are so privileged as Diaconal Ministries Canada to meet and journey with the Canadian CRC deacons -to journey together, learning about how God is calling our churches to show compassion and pursue justice.
We would love to hear about your church, your diaconate, your deacons. Find us on Facebook or leave a comment below.
What does it look like to be a deacon in your context? How is God working through deacons to bring healing and restoration?
-written by Tammy Heidbuurt (Regional Ministry Developer)
(photo above: First CRC of Chatham, ON deacons)