Diaconal Ministry Developers (DMDs) are encouragers and coaches for deacons. They are experienced in diaconal work and are available to help deacons understand their role and work out their calling in the church and its community. Recently Tammy Heidbuurt connected with two outgoing DMDs about their experiences connecting with CRCs in Classis Hamilton and Classis Chatham.
What did you enjoy most about being a DMD?
Dorothy (DH): definitely the friendships I have been able to make along the way! Friendships that are based on the common desire to serve God by serving those in church and community
Doug (DV): What I enjoyed most, was I think, having a front-row seat to the Lord’s work through dedicated leaders. It’s such a blessing to see people eager to make a difference in churches and communities; an eagerness that fans into flame, passion for ministry and serving deacons.
What have you learned in the role about deacon’s work?
DH: every Christian is called to deacon-work. To love your neighbours, offer compassion, promote justice, advocate for the less fortunate, to be a good steward, and to live life in a way that others see the breathing, living presence of Christ in you.
DV: this ministry is definitely never “one-size-fits-all”. Each diaconate strives to make sure its ministry is meaningful to its own church and community.
Can you share a story or meaningful experience you had with a diaconate while being a DMD?
DH: I visited a diaconate once where the conversation focused on the many opportunities that are often presented when responding to specific needs of the people in their community. Not long after that visit, one of the deacons from that diaconate called me and asked what kind of questions the should be asking a community member who was in financial need (they were scheduled to meet that individual later that same day). I ended up joining them at that meeting at a coffee shop. We had a great visit and I was so encouraged by the desire of that deacon to meet the needs and to build relationships in an authentic, caring, respectful manner with the people in their own community.
DV: I remember when a deacon-chair asked for help with some training for his diaconate (plus others in the same area). During the initial meeting, we enjoyed a deep and meaningful time of brainstorming ideas and coming up with concrete plans. Through the meeting, the emails afterward and the training-gathering that eventually took place, it was amazing to see the Lord weaving the details together. We were deeply blessed by an informing and uplifting evening of encouragement and true equipping.
What would you like churches to know about DMDs and their work?
DH: I would love for churches to become more aware of the resources that they have readily available to them through their very own Classis DMD and through the DMC organization. DMDs are there to assist them and to encourage them in their acts of service in the local church and community ministry. They are an effective avenue to help share the amazing testimonies and acts of services that are happening across Canada, that when shared, spur on others to also act and serve.
DV: Simply put… DMDs love to bless churches. They have access to a wide variety of resources and are ready, willing and able to adapt those resources to any church’s specific needs. I hope the churches take the time to appreciate the deacons’ role in equipping all members for works of service. Sometimes in the Reformed tradition, we feel embarrassed about not being able to evangelize/share the gospel with words. While there certainly is a learning curve for us worth climbing in the area of (spoken) evangelism, let’s remember that Christian deeds speak in powerful ways that the watching world is sure to notice…and so, let’s join the momentum the Holy Spirit has been generating in and through deacons and people in their networks (like DMDs)!
DMC gives a big thank-you to both Dorothy Heidbuurt and Doug VandeKamp for their wonderful work as DMDs, and their ongoing ministry in the CRC. Many blessings to you both Dorothy and Doug!
Doug has accepted a call as a Pastor, from First CRC Brandon (in Classis Lake Superior). Dorothy will be focusing on her full-time work as a support worker.
Dorothy Heidbuurt Doug VandeKamp