It’s a New Year! A time of reflecting on the past and looking forward to a brighter future. It’s a time to take stock of who we are, what we’ve done (and perhaps not done), and where we want to go in the year ahead. For most businesses or groups, a Mission Statement can be used as a lens in which to see and evaluate all we’ve accomplished over the past year. Mission Statements help us maintain a razor-sharp focus on our purpose; our raison d’être. They can also be the banner we wave to remind the rest of the world of our importance, and perhaps why they can’t live without us!
When we read through the Bible, and especially the Gospels in the New Testament, we can find that even Jesus had a Mission Statement. Yes, He did! These ‘statements’ lay out the reason why He came and lived on this earth and what His ministry would ‘look like’. One of them is in the story of the calling of Matthew (aka Levi). After He says to Matthew, “Follow Me!”, Jesus is invited to eat with a large group of Matthew’s friends. Most of these people were “sinners and tax collectors”. When asked why he would even consider eating with these people, Jesus responds, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Well ‘DUH!’ we all say upon reading this. We are reminded over and over again in Scripture that Jesus “came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). He came to save the sinner, not tend to the ‘righteous’. And before Jesus ascended back into heaven, He left his followers with a Mission Statement similar to His own. We know it as the Great Commission. This gives Christians worldwide their marching orders – their reason for living each day.
As deacons, I think you would agree that, like Jesus, you are in the business of helping people! As you go about living for Jesus and fulfilling your mandate, you too are called to minister to the “sick” among us: the hurting, the grieving, the unlovable and so on. Most of what you do is troubleshooting; fixing what’s broken, mending what’s come apart, healing what hurts – just like a doctor would. Perhaps even coming to the rescue for people. Let’s be honest, a lot of what you do is REACTIVE and this is the way it sometimes needs to be: The food bank’s shelves are getting sparse; let’s hold a special drive. A family in your church needs help paying their hydro bill since the father was laid off 2 months ago and can’t find new work. The church budget is showing a bigger deficit than anticipated and a Call-to-Action is required at the next worship service.
When a need arises, you respond! With love and compassion and generosity.
While I pondered this passage some more, it made me think of DMC and our role among the churches and Classis across Canada.
Why do we exist?
Whom do we serve?
Here at DMC, we try to do the same. When a diaconate or classis comes calling, we boldly exclaim, “WHAT CAN WE DO FOR YOU?!” In many ways, when something is ‘broken’ or needs attention, our aim is to be available to support you in any way we can.
But at the same time, we also want to help deacons and diaconates become PROACTIVE in their ministry. Things like making work plans and/or setting goals; creating and following generous and sustainable Benevolence Policies; finding and maintaining strong partnerships with community agencies to see them through their ups and downs (not just their downs!); cultivating a culture of generosity among your members so your budget sees surpluses year after year. And so on. Sound impossible? We don’t think so!
Here at DMC, we’re in the business of inspiring, equipping and encouraging deacons as you animate your congregations to join in God’s transforming work in communities across Canada. This is why we pray for you regularly. This is why we post stories on our blog. This is why we share tidbits and reminders and scriptures on our Facebook page. This is why we have Diaconal Ministry Developers connecting with each Classis and church. This is why we have a website FULL of helpful resources that can be downloaded and used immediately. This is why we’ve led Days of Encouragement and other training events across the country.
This is why we exist.
DMC doesn’t just exist to help you when things are bad, like when the seniors are hoping for better food and entertainment at this year’s annual Christmas dinner and you don’t know where to turn! (But we can help with that, by the way!) We’re here to help diaconates thrive and live out their mission – in their church, their community, and beyond!
So as you go about your important work as deacons, don’t forget that DMC is here to serve YOU; in the ups and the downs! And may you be constantly reminded that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)