Equipping Deacons

“Oh When the …DEACONS(?!)… Come Marching In!”

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I love marching bands!!! Don’t you?! It’s one of the biggest reasons I attend parades, much to the chagrin of my lovely husband. Sometime I wonder if he had some horrible childhood experience or something because c’mon; who hates parades?! Am I right? It’s like hating fireworks. How is that even possible?!

But back to marching bands… they are a wonder to behold aren’t they? The guy or gal out front, called the Drum Major or Field Commander, and who is often dressed slightly different and fancier than the rest of the band, is responsible for providing commands to the ensemble and leads them while marching. He/she directs them on what to play, when to play, and what time to keep. The commands can be communicated in a variety of ways: verbally, through hand gestures, using a whistle or a baton, or with a mace (a weapon!) in the military. “Essentially, a drum major is the leader that keeps the rhythm and beat of time with the use of its baton or other forms of time keeping such as conducting. The drum major often holds the responsibility to keep the band organized and structured.” (Thanks Wikipedia! Click here to read more on the history and role of Drum Majors.)

While doing some research on marching bands (because UNFORTUNATELY I’ve never been part of one), it was interesting to read why people loved being a part of one so much. One blogger wrote that she much preferred being part of a marching band than participating on a sports team. With band, she writes, “everyone participates, regardless of how well you march or your skill with an instrument. While those things are important—they’re kind of what the whole thing is built around—every student has a necessary role to play for the band. When you march, you are not simply a single musician or color guard member. You are part of a larger instrument. You have to be aware of where your bandmates are so you can fit into the shape…and also not get run over by the tuba player or hit with a flag. We are all responsible for sounding good and looking good on the field.”

Hmmmm, interesting. And that got me thinking about this month’s theme of LEADERSHIP. Being part of a marching band, and particularly being the Drum Major, is a pretty tall order. One slip-up and the entire ensemble falls apart, and typically in front of thousands! No pressure, eh? Talk about teamwork!

Whether you recognize this or not, deacons are LEADERS! And as you likely already know (and have experienced), deacons have been given a pretty hefty mandate. To sum it all up, Diaconal Ministry focuses on the following areas:

  • Compassion – Deacons model and demonstrate compassion to those who are hurting; they provide hope and encouragement;
  • Community Ministry – Deacons model and encourage the congregation to be engaged in community ministry in their community;
  • Stewardship – Deacons encourage church members to be stewards of God’s creation and to practice authentic stewardship with their time, gifts, and money;
  • Justice – Deacons model and encourage the congregation to be advocates for, and with, the marginalized and vulnerable people in their local community.

Did you notice anything when reading these categories and explanations? Did you notice the words MODEL…DEMONSTRATE…ENCOURAGE…? In summary, Deacons are called to serve by “leading and equipping the church to minister to its members and the world in a rich diversity of ministries, awakening compassion, demonstrating mercy, seeking justice, and collaborating with God’s Spirit for the transformation of persons and communities.” Deacons are not to just perform diaconal ministry on behalf of the church, but to mobilize and equip their entire churches to fulfill its calling.

Deacons are the “Field Commanders” in their congregations! You have an entire congregation picking up their instruments (their talents, their resources, and their time) and following you into the great wide open! Being an ordained Deacon is not about doing all the work or having all of the ideas. But it’s also not about being dictators who give orders to those around them. Remember those words MODEL, DEMONSTRATE and ENCOURAGE? This is what being an ordained Deacon is all about. And this is essentially what being a leader is all about! As it reads in the Form of Ordination, “…Deacons are to identify and develop gifts in both the church and community. By adding to all this words of encouragement and hope, deacons demonstrate in word and deed the care of the Lord himself.” [emphasis mine]

So as we journey through this month together, let’s learn together what it means for you to be effective leaders in your churches and communities. This is a tough task, especially in today’s society. While it used to be looked down upon when someone ‘marched to the beat of our own drum’, nowadays it’s become the objective for many. And while this philosophy can help us embrace our own unique gifts and talents and find our purpose in life, the glorification of this philosophy has actually segregated our society instead of made it beautiful and harmonious. It’s promoted self and placed the individual before the whole. This has become one of the biggest challenges for leaders inside and outside the church.

So, how can Deacons lead their entire congregations, filled with various church members having their own interests and opinions and needs and wants, and equip them to perform one unified, glorious masterpiece? How can we all march to the beat of the same drum – the drum that echoes the heartbeat of God himself – as we do what He requires of us.

Let’s wrestle with that one a bit more this month, along with many other aspects and challenges of leadership. And perhaps these marching bands can teach us a few more things. 🙂

Help with Recruitment Strategies is here!

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We hope last week’s post on the Top 10 Ways to Recruit New Council Members struck a chord with y’all. We believe many of you will agree with us when we say that this process is a BIG deal and it deserves your utmost attention! Councils need to MAKE a plan and then STICK to it year after year, to ensure you’re finding the right people at the right time for the right roles.

So today we’re sharing what we feel are some of the Fundamentals of your Council’s Recruitment Strategy. Now we know that some churches have done this already and you can find examples of these here and here. Perhaps if your church has perfected the recruitment process, you’d be willing to share it with the rest of us! As you may already see, each church will need to find what works for them. There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to recruitment or a fill-in-the-blank template, although some of the fundamentals are the same! If you would like help in writing up your Recruitment Strategy, we have Diaconal Ministry Developers across Canada ready to help churches and Classis. Or you can email one of our Regional Ministry Developers: Rachel for Western Canada or Tammy for Eastern Canada.

Now! After you’ve crafted your Recruitment Strategy, it’s time to get to work. As we mentioned in our Top 10 and in the above resource, educating your congregation on what being a council member actually means is crucial. Sometimes people say “No” to a nomination because they don’t really understand what they are being asked to do. It’s important to create ways to inform your members, and especially nominees, on what the job descriptions and expectations are for an Elder or Deacon, and then carve out time to do so!  

So as a bonus, today we are also sharing some ideas we’ve put together to help get you started! Check out our newest resource “Fundamentals of Informing Your Church Re: Council Recruitment“.

Remember; potential council members aren’t likely to magically appear at your doorstep imploring you to commit them to service, even if you did compose a fun and catchy bulletin announcement. A well thought-out Recruitment Strategy is a MUST in order to make searching for new council members a breeze, year after year!

Did you find these tips helpful? Did we miss anything? Does your church have a clear Recruitment Strategy? Are you willing to share it? Email Erin today if you are!

January 2018: Let’s Focus on RECRUITMENT!

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It’s a brand new year! A season of fresh starts! A time when we strive to be the best we can be moving forward. Of letting go of our past mistakes and bad experiences and grabbing hold of new and exciting opportunities to learn and grow! Right?! Are ya with me?!!

In the world of churches and schools, it’s been said that we sort of get 2 “New Years”: one in January and one is September, when the summer is over and a new church season begins. And like many teams and committees and boards, with each new year (or new season) we make plans and set goals in order to ensure our work and ministries thrive! But like any ‘new year’ filled with hopeful and helpful ‘resolutions’, things can quickly fall to the wayside as we become inundated with the day-to-day tasks of our work and ministries. And it’s no different with deacons, am I right?!

And that’s where DMC comes in! We exist to inspire, empower AND equip all deacons as you animate (aka. mobilize) YOUR congregations in the areas of Community Engagement, Stewardship and promoting Mercy & Justice. So over the course of the next few months, we’ll be having a monthly theme to help you be the best YOU can be!

To start us off, January’s focus will be on RECRUITMENT! Finding new deacons to join your team can be a daunting task and it’s something you have to do EVERY year! And the sooner you start, the better. Here at DMC, we want to help make it easier to find the right people at the right time to be a part of your diaconate. So for our first post, we’ve compiled our Top 10 Ways to Recruit New Council Members. (Yes, you can share this with your Elder friends as well!)

Read it over and tell us what you think! Did we miss anything? Do you have some trade secrets to share with the rest of us? Put your comments below or send us an email ASAP!

And this is just the beginning. Look for more resources to come out in the days ahead. Things like catchy bulletin announcements, what a recruitment strategy could look like, sample job descriptions and so much more!

Classis Learning Event Proves Worthwhile

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On Saturday, November 18th, churches from across Classis Chatham gathered to answer one burning question: Was it time to retire or revitalize their Diaconal Conference. The learning event was titled “The Deacon’s Role: Moving from Standard Version to Revised Standard Version”. A group of about 60 participants gathered at Grace CRC in Chatham to listen, learn and give their input.

Some of you may be asking, “What is a Diaconal Conference anyway?” Article 75b of the CRCNA’s Church Order states: “The Classis shall, whenever necessary, assist the churches in their ministry of mercy. The Classis themselves may perform this ministry when it is beyond the scope and resources of the local churches. To administer this task each classes shall have a classical diaconal committee.” Though not as common as it once was, a Diaconal Conference is an association of diaconates who represent churches within a classis (a group of churches within a geographical area). They gather together to promote and build the church’s ministry of mercy. A diaconal conference would normally take part in:

• promoting mutual learning opportunities for the diaconates within a classis
• providing training for new deacons and leadership roles for deacons in the church
• stimulating support for existing community ministries, especially Operation Manna’s partners
• encouraging diaconates to search for new ministry opportunities
• promoting international relief and development work of World Renew
• communicating with classis on a regular basis where and when possible

So now you may be wondering, ‘But isn’t that what Diaconal Ministries Canada is already doing?!’ Well, yes, we are! DMC was organized by deacons, for deacons, so that the ministry and leadership role that oversees the ministry of the church could be thoughtfully equipped and supported, and resources shared. Much time and effort has been put into listening to deacons and developing a wide range of materials and events to help them fulfill their callings as leaders in the church. Most of this work is done primarily through our Diaconal Ministry Developers (DMDs) who are experienced in diaconal work and are available to help deacons, as encouragers AND coaches.

Something that has impacted our work was a significant change that took place at Synod 2015 when some important principles for diaconal ministry in the 21st century were approved. That 2015 Task Report addressed the role of deacons in congregations and communities as well as the role of elders. Read the full report here. (For more information on the importance of what happened there, check out our blog post from September 2015 here.)

So this is why we gathered in Chatham. The Diaconal Conference of Classis Chatham has begun to wrestle with the implications of this report on their leadership role and their churches. And they are not alone. Conversations are happening all across Canada and also south of the border. Here at DMC, we hope to help YOU shape the answers to this question.

During our morning together, we looked at the history and role of DMC as well as the role of our Diaconal Ministry Developers. We shared what was happening within the churches and their surrounding communities to find common through-lines and themes. All of these stories and ideas and insights were put up against the mandate of the Classis Chatham Diaconal Conference to help the group discover if the mandate was still relevant and could adequately address the needs of the Classis.

By the end of the day, we had covered a lot of ground, met some new friends, and learned a lot of new things. While it would be wonderful to say everything was accomplished in this one, half-day gathering, it was realized that more work was yet to be done. The proposal moving forward was for Classis Chatham Diaconal Conference to host a smaller follow-up meeting in January or February, 2018, to discuss the information shared and collected on November 18th. Once again, DMC will help to facilitate that discussion, with the goal of formulating some longer term plans.

During our morning, five (5) table conversations took place to help evaluate the role of a Diaconal Conference in Classis Chatham

For those of us who have read a bulletin announcement or been handed a pamphlet about an upcoming seminar or training event, we can probably agree they are easy to dismiss and/or ignore. Life is full and one more day away from home, especially early on a Saturday morning, can be unappealing and almost dreaded. So DMC Staff were delighted to hear positive feedback from those in attendance. Many were appreciative of the gathering and commented that “the day was great even in just being together” and that the “interacting was rich” and “engaged the participants”. They saw much value in exchanging ideas and hearing what was working in the various churches/diaconates. One complaint we received was that it should have been a full-day meeting(!).

So, what about YOU?

Would your church or Classis see value in holding a similar gathering? Do you have some ‘hot topics’ you’d like to discuss? Are you wrestling with the value and purpose of a Diaconal Conference? Do your deacons need training on some specific matters like finding your church’s or Classis’ passion or making benevolence policies or orientating new deacons? Let us know how we can support you along in this journey at Classis or at your local church.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Does #GivingTuesday bring #GivingFatigue?!

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Truth be told, this article actually began back in late September. While listening to talk radio as I drove into work, the topic of discussion was Disaster Fatigue. The talk show host was asking his listeners if they had ever heard of this and/or if they had ever ‘suffered’ from this. What he was referring to was the multiple natural disasters that we were seeing and hearing about everywhere we turned. It began (mostly) with Hurricane Harvey, then we found out about Hurricane Irma and her devastating blow, and then soon after Hurricane Maria seemed to steal the spotlight as she hammered down and absolutely demolished Puerto Rico. And more recently, devastating earthquakes seem to be coming one after another! In a world where news and information are literally at our finger tips, we have the amazing privilege of hearing about things happening across the globe almost immediately. And this is great, right? It makes us all feel a bit more connected, right? It helps raise awareness, right? It helps educate us on things outside of our little bubble, right? And these are all GOOD things, right? Well, yes!

And, no perhaps.

So what is “Disaster Fatigue”? Where did this phrase even come from? Did this small-town talk radio host come up with it? With a quick Google Search, I discovered that this local radio host may have been citing an article posted September 12, 2017 on the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s website, written by Robert G. OttenhoffIt. Find the full article here.

Since then, our society has been bombarded with other urgent needs from around the globe. From the refugee crises to mass shootings to political strife, the hits just keep on coming! And along with these come the needs of our own family members, our neighbours and co-workers and our community. Your sister can’t pay her hydro bill and now her car just broke down. The boy down the street is selling you-name-it to help local kids play sports. The local food bank needs more peanut butter and men’s underwear, STAT!

And now they’ve come up with #GivingTuesday! Sheesh! So many important causes and so little funds/resources. Right? And who is in the centre of it all? YOU! Poor, little old you, trying to figure out which cause is greater, which need is more urgent and where my dollar can be stretched the furthest. So, perhaps, here is where we arrive at experiencing fatigue. Wrestling with the notion of ‘how can 1 person help every cause?!’! As Robert points out in his article, some of you may have heard this dilemma referred to as “Donor Fatigue”.

But let’s step back a bit and look at this from a broader perspective. What the local radio host was actually referring to was the level of empathy (or compassion) we, as everyday people, can have (or not have) when these ‘disasters’ strike, especially one after another. Do the hurricanes and mass shootings just become redundant news stories and yes, while we feel badly for the people who have gone through them, it doesn’t impact us tangibly (except those higher gas prices we had to endure; ouch!) so they are easily forgotten. Or do we blame the news for confusing our consciences as their focus continually turns to the latest, greatest ‘storm’ and tends not to follow up on the aftermath of the Harveys and Irmas when Maria just came to town! No one can do everything and the hits just keep on coming.

Another quick Google Search landed me upon the phrase “Compassion Fatigue”. Yikes! Another fatigue! I’m getting fatigued just reading about all the fatigues I can experience in this lifetime! Now while these articles dealt mostly with those who are caregivers and the struggles they can experience when they no longer take time for self-care, etc., I think it can apply to many of us, especially when thinking about the above. A phrase that jumped off one website’s homepage was: “Caring too much can hurt”. Hmmmm… chew on that for a minute. Have you or your fellow deacons ever experienced this?

What’s a Christ-follower to do?!

In all of this, how do we, as followers of Christ, hear those words: “Caring too much can hurt”? When we read the Bible, do we hear similar warnings being doled out? Are we cautioned as we take up the cause of mercy and justice to ‘be careful or you’ll get hurt!’? Are we told to “not get in too deep” with the woes of this world? To set clear boundaries in order to protect oneself!?

No, we don’t! Instead, as Christians, are we not called to pursue mercy and justice and have compassion on all those who are suffering? (Zechariah 7:9)

Giving our all should never hurt when done with the right motives. We should never have to experience any sort of “fatigue” if our sole reason to give is to reflect our loving and generous God who gave His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we would have the opportunity to be blessed and to bless others by giving. (“Don’t Give Until It Hurts”, posted on www.focusonthefamily.com, by Harvey Nowland). And God promises it will be returned to us (Luke 6:38). Something along the lines of ‘you reap what you sow’. Let us take heart and remember one thing: we simply can’t out-give God. Therefore, we needn’t worry about becoming spent or fatigued or getting hurt. Mr. Nowland rightfully reminds us that we simply can not go broke (emotionally, physically OR spiritually) by being generous with our time, energy or resources.

Our sole reason to give is to reflect our loving and generous God who gave His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we would have the opportunity to be blessed and to bless others by giving.

(For further study, take some time to work through 2 Corinthians 9; it’s a great passage on why AND how we are called to show generosity to others!)

No matter what you or your church or your diaconate have experienced thus far, may you never become weary in doing good because we know that at the proper time you will reap a harvest because you never gave up! (Gal. 6:9). Our prayer here at DMC is that as your diaconate seeks to promote mercy and justice, and wrestles with things like benevolence and offering schedules, and as you engage with your broader community, that you will never experience any sort of fatigue or lack of empathy towards the ones God is calling you to serve.

Need some help?

Visit our Resources Page on our website for more about making offering schedules, designing a Benevolence Fund Policy and related topics. You can also contact your local DMD or one of our DMC Staff – we’re here to help!

Help US help you!

This #GivingTuesday, consider an extra donation to Diaconal Ministries Canada, as we do our best to inspire, equip and empower deacons so that they can animate their own congregations to join in God’s transforming work! We offer countless resources and workshops and are available for one-on-one coaching and consultation through our Diaconal Ministry Developers and our Regional Ministry Developers. We exist to serve you as you engage in your communities, promote stewardship and pursue mercy and justice. May God bless each one of you as you participate in His Kingdom causes!

#GivingTuesday coming up November 28, 2017

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Have you seen this video recently? It has been making its way around Facebook and other Social Media platforms. It’s not a new video (it came out December 2016). It’s also not a new concept: being grateful for EVERYTHING we have! If you haven’t seen it, we’ll give you a minute to watch it now.

All done? Wow, that was good, eh?

Each fall, with the celebration of Thanksgiving weekend in October and through to Remembrance Day in November, we are given ample opportunity to stop and take stock of what we have. From the sun rising and setting each day to indoor plumbing to hot coffee and a mug to drink it in. Wow, we are #blessed, right?

Something I’ve tried to drill into my kids’ heads and hearts (and truth be told, my OWN head and heart!) is to have “An Attitude of Gratitude”. Of course that is consistently met with groans and eye rolls from my two boys, but if we’re serious for a moment and really think about this, isn’t this just a great way to go through each day of our life?! There will always be the “big” things in life that some of us will never have or be able to afford, but don’t we have a TON of little things that are just as important (and likely a lot more necessary) to be grateful for??

I think I’ll bookmark this video and go back to it whenever I need a little ‘gratitude boost’, or a dose of Vitamin G, as some people call it! I challenge you to do the same.

So what does this have to do with #GivingTuesday? (Or perhaps you’re asking what IS #GivingTuesday???) “Following Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. and the widely-recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year” (taken from www.givingtuesday.org). This movement marries the power of social media with the innate generosity of people around the world in order to impact local communities. Organizations and individuals have raised over a million dollars in almost 100 countries since its inception. And what an incredible contrast this is each year, coming out of a weekend of gluttony, over-indulging AND over-spending.

Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.

– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Here at DMC, our focus is to inspire, empower and equip Deacons in order that they may animate their congregations. One of our focus areas is to help churches “To Live Stewardly”. Over the next year, DMC will be increasing our capacity to serve you and your diaconates by gathering appropriate and relevant resources in the area of stewardship. Remember to keep coming back to see what’s been added!

Our prayer is that God will continue to bless each one of you as you and your churches choose an “attitude of gratitude”, able to see and appreciate ALL of His good gifts. And out of this gratitude, that God may increase your generosity.

And if you feel led to participate in the #GivingTuesday Campaign this year by giving an extra donation to a ministry you already support, or by organizing a service project in your community, or you name it!, we know that “you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous.” (2 Cor. 9:11 NLT)

Church Holds First “Serve Saturday”

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Members of Brighton Fellowship CRC (BFCRC) are ready to tackle some yardwork for a local senior at their first “Serve Saturday” event.

This past weekend, a total of 60 participants came out bright and early on Saturday morning for Brighton Fellowship CRC’s (BFCRC) first-ever “Serve Saturday”. Members of all ages were encouraged by the Diaconate of BFCRC to come and help out some local seniors, both inside and outside their congregation, with their fall clean-up. The morning began at 8am with a devotion and prayer followed by participants enjoying a delicious breakfast. Groups and worksites had already been formed prior to the morning and by 8:40am, everyone was off and ready to get to work.

Roxanne Ewing, Chair of Deacons at BFCRC, said the idea to hold a “Serve Saturday” was primarily inspired by BFCRC being a host church for a SERVE Youth Mission Trip. This is a program run by Youth Unlimited who works with local churches to help them share the love of Christ with those in their own backyards. The week-long mission trip welcomes teens and youth leaders from across North America. Worksites are arranged for each day, lending assistance to various community agencies and individuals. The feedback from those who received assistance from these SERVE groups over the past 3 years in Brighton was tremendous. After the week was over, many would ask the church, “Hey, where did all those wonderful teenagers go to?”

This got the Deacons at BFCRC thinking. How could they take the concept of a SERVE week and make it a part of their own church’s regular rhythm? They understood that this would not only be a practical way to help people inside and outside their church walls, but also build on the relationships that began with the SERVE groups. It also fit well with their mission to “show love, kindness and mercy to all members of BFCRC and surrounding community.”

The Mission Statement of the Diaconate of BFCRC

One of the key reasons the Deacons decided to focus their efforts on seniors was because of a Community Opportunity Scan that the church completed a few years ago when they were doing some re-Visioning as a church. One of the discoveries made was the large amount of seniors living in the Brighton area.

Afterwards, Roxanne said they “had an amazing day!!! The feedback was very positive…. Those we served… were blessed and overwhelmed with gratitude; some even brought to tears…. It was [also] quite a buzz the next morning in church!!! Everyone is looking forward to doing this again and I think this will be contagious!!”

Moving forward, it is the hope of the diaconate to hold another Serve Saturday in the Spring. It is through these small but intentional steps that as a diaconate and church, they hope to “show the love of Jesus to everyone… with open eyes and a prayerful heart.”

So what about YOUR church?

Has your diaconate found ways to encourage intergenerational serving, inside or outside your church? What doors has God been opening up for you as a church? Share your story with us!

Need inspiration? Not sure where to start? Contact the DMC Office to speak to one of our staff members and we’d love to chat with you!

A Deacon’s Experience

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Rene (back centre) with fellow deacon Amanda Blaauwendraat (front left) and their team for Coldest Night of the Year, in support of the Truro Homeless Outreach Society

As part of our mission to inspire deacons in the work that they do, Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC) works to share various deacons’ experiences. Our hope is that these stories from across the country will help deacons learn from each other and feel connected to a broader group beyond their own church.

This month we are highlighting an interview we did with Mrs. Rene Wall from John Calvin CRC in Truro, Nova Scotia.


Rene works as a Web Application Developer for the Nova Scotia Government. Rene and her husband Jamie were blessed to celebrate their 25th Wedding Anniversary this past summer. She is one of those rare people who love committee work and is happiest when she is organizing/coordinating something. Her interests include singing, reading, crafting and playing with her kitties.

What did you enjoy about serving as a deacon?
I am an organizer at heart, so I enjoyed working on projects with the other deacons; whether it was cooking dinners for seniors at Christmas, preparing the annual Community Dinner for the needy in our town, setting up the apartment for our interim pastor, or organizing the Maritime Day of Encouragement.

What was one of the most positive experiences you had while serving as a deacon over the past few years?
I think perhaps it was leading a team in the Out of the Cold Fundraiser the last few years. It met a few of the goals that I tried to achieve: it was inter-generational (youth and adult participants), involved our church in the community, was something that people new to church could easily participate in and, of course, it was for an excellent diaconal cause – Truro Homeless Outreach Society.

What has been a challenge your diaconate faced over the past few years? How did you navigate this challenge?
We really struggled with how to answer cold calls (people we don’t know). The existing practice was to give out grocery cards, but at the start of my term it became really clear that people were taking advantage of that practice: hitting up all the churches in the area, selling the grocery cards for money, people not being who they claimed they were, etc. We tried a number of different things, and in end we decided to ask for ID, and then offer them a bag of groceries. In the bag is a list of all the local resources for help (eg. local Food Bank, Salvation Army) and free lunches and dinners in the community. When we do have extra money in the diaconate we look for ways we can help existing local organizations like the local Food Bank or women’s shelter.

“Get involved with a community organization – it extends how far you can help and it introduces the community to your church.”

What words of advice or encouragement would you offer to future deacons?
Don’t just define the role of a deacon as what you might have seen/perceived growing up in the church. It’s changing and covers a lot more than “counting money and giving out grocery cards”. Then find something in the role of deacon that resonates with you and do the best you can! If you can, get involved with a community organization – it extends how far you can help and it introduces the community to your church.

What has your interaction or experience with Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC) been like? 
Hmm – this could have been my “positive experience” too. I worked very closely with DMC’s Maritime Diaconal Ministry Developer (DMD) to organize the Maritime Day of Encouragement (MDOE) in 2015 and again this year. As I mentioned in the previous question, it was a way for me to use my “organizing abilities” in the role of deacon. Through DMC’s support of the MDOE over the years, we’ve been able to bring a lot of excellent speakers to the Maritimes to encourage and support our leaders.

What do you think other diaconates should know about DMC and its resources?
DMC has a lot of resources for you to tap into – talk to your DMD or visit their website. You don’t have to go it alone! I finished my role as deacon this spring and am currently mentoring two new deacons. I found a lot of great training material/devotions on the DMC website for them to use. Thank you!

Are you a deacon? Do you have an experience you’d like to share with us? Then we want to hear from YOU! Email eknight@crcna.org today

A DMD Experience

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Featuring an interview with DMDs:
Doug Vandekamp and Dorothy Heidbuurt 

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



Owned by the Deacons

Posted by | Equipping Deacons, Uncategorized | One Comment

Ever wonder how an organization starts? Well sit back and take a walk down memory lane with me…

Diaconal Ministries Canada had its early beginnings around 1998 at a Classis renewal gathering in Chicago. Canadian ministry leaders, and folks representing Diaconal Ministries Eastern Canada, Northern Alberta Diaconal Conference, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (now known as World Renew) and British Columbia Diaconal Conference, happened to be having lunch at a local Chicago restaurant. Discussions and conversations began, and soon there was talk about “what If… we form an umbrella (diaconal) organization from coast to coast? An organization that would be responsible for overseeing the training of deacons in the CRC from Vancouver BC. to Halifax NS?” Quite exciting stuff!

Since we were out for lunch, the only paper available was the napkins on the table. Soon these napkins became full blown flow charts with various arrows from east to west and west to east. They included circles, squares, even triangles.  Leader’s names were put in the various provinces so committees could be formed; with hope that one day these small napkins might evolve into a national organization.

It was an exciting time and after a few more years of discussions (and maybe some more napkin drawings), in 2001 Diaconal Ministries Canada was formally organized. It has grown to an organization that is the envy of many other CRC agencies.

There are approximately 20 Diaconal Ministry Developers (DMD), representing the 12 Classis across Canada, who take it upon themselves, with the help of staff, to train and build relationships with deacons coast to coast.

Have you contacted your DMD? Click here  to find out how

    -written by Gary Veeneman, DMD for Classis BC SE and NW