The Four “F” Words Deacons Utter About Classis & Synod

When it comes to Deacons at Classis and Synod (C&S), what is your immediate reaction?

It’s been a few years since the Diakonia Remixed Report came out and Synod made the decision to include Deacons as delegates to these denominational meetings. In our many discussions with Deacons (and other ministry leaders), we have quickly realized it has remained a pretty hot topic. It’s even conjured up an “F” word or two from time-to-time! Words like…

  • FOREIGN! Many find the meetings confusing and they don’t know the various protocols of C&S or the various roles. Many deacons also don’t understand why they need to be there. (And some churches don’t want their deacons there – yikes!)
  • FARAWAY! Many can’t go (for a variety of reasons) even if they did want to go. (Did you know some Classis are so vast their delegates need to FLY IN?!)
  • FORMAL! Most Deacons aren’t accustomed to such formal meetings, with motions and agendas and in camera sessions, oh my! We’ve also heard that some Pastors and Elders are okay with Deacons being at these meetings but believe they should be excluded from certain parts of the agenda that involve doctrinal or disciplinary matters.
  • FUTILE! Are these larger meetings even making a difference? (Psst, it isn’t just Deacons asking this question, btw!) Is this the best use of a deacon’s (limited) time?

When talking about this hot topic, I wonder if both sides tend to point the finger at the other. Deacons may be thinking, If you really want us here, how are you making us feel welcome and important and engaged? At the same time, those at Classis and Synod may be wondering, Why can’t Deacons just get their act together and figure it out like we all had to? And why are they even here in the first place? In order to properly ‘welcome’ Deacons to C&S, perhaps we need to know whose job is it to make this important transition as smoothly as possible. Which side needs to bend? Which party needs to change? At times, it seems that both sides only see two options: the “System” (being C&S) needs to change or the Deacons do. This gets the other party off the hook and makes it no longer their problem but the other party’s problem to fix so we can all move forward. 

Let’s just pause for a minute here. Perhaps this example from my own personal life will help us think this through a bit:

When my first child arrived, I. Was. Prepared. I had read (ok, studied) all the books I needed, I had asked my mom and sisters a zillion questions, and I relied heavily on my sweet, patient midwives’ advice and expertise. (And all of this without having Google around!) And man, he was a breeze. When my second son came around, the wheels fell off – just a bit. While he was still fairly good, he certainly wasn’t as easygoing as my first. This didn’t make much sense since I had done everything the same, ish. This posed a problem. So, like a good mom, I decided to do something about it. Our church was offering a small group that was going to study the book, “Have a New Kid by Friday”, by Dr. Kevin Leman. Perfect! I could ‘fix’ my child. After not even getting through the first chapter I was already sensing some mutiny. The book seemed to be talking a lot about ME as a parent. Okay, I thought, that’s fine. I’m the one seeking help and so I should own up to what I’ve done right, what I’ve done wrong, what I’ve forgotten to do, etc. Okay, fine – let’s carry on. As the book went on though, it kept bringing it back to ME. What was I doing (and not doing) to raise a thoughtful, obedient, conscientious child. Say WHAT?! I’m not the problem! I thought. He is! Why do you keep turning this on ME?

In the end, I realized it was about me. In most of life, when a problem exists we tend to look at the other person or persons involved. It’s their fault. They need to change. What are they doing and not doing to help this situation. Why can’t they just [fill-in-the-blank] and everything will be better.

So how does this story apply to Deacons at C&S? 

In order for there to be full representation at these larger denominational gatherings, we NEED deacons at Classis & Synod.

Bottom Line: In order for there to be full representation at these larger denominational gatherings, we NEED deacons at C&S. We’ve said this before and we’ll keep saying it until the end of times. And if this is true, then perhaps the solution is both sides working with the system and each other to make this new way forward a good thing. What if we are actually BETTER TOGETHER? And if we are, how can we start acting like it?

So before we start spewing any more “F” Words about C&S, we’d like to propose a few of our own and how both sides can move forward together. Over the next couple of weeks, we’d like to tackle those four “F” words listed above and flip them on their heads so we can bring Deacons and Classis/Synod to a place where everyone matters, everyone is heard, and everyone does their part SO THAT we can bring the Good News of the Kingdom to this broken world and see lives and communities transformed! Because that’s what it’s really all about anyway, right?!

Here’s our plan:

  • Post #1: From FOREIGN to FAMILIAR
  • Post #2: From FORMAL to FOCUSSED
  • Post #3: From FARAWAY to FEASIBLE
  • Post #4: From FUTILE to FRUITFUL

We hope you’ll join us for this journey and share your helpful thoughts, bright ideas, reasonable reservations, and new insights. We’re excited to have Al Postma who works with Classis Renewal in the CRCNA contribute to this series as well!