e-QuipThe Diaconal Blog

 

Beyond a Bed: tools for deacons who want to walk alongside

Posted by | Equipping Deacons, resources | No Comments

A deacon is in the waiting room of a community walk-in clinic. There is a woman beside her, slumped in her seat. She is dozing lightly; she looks exhausted. After a number of minutes, the woman seems to abandon hope of a nap. She stretches, sighs and sits up. The deacon beside her begins a conversation. It doesn’t take long until the woman shares how tired she is. She doesn’t have a bed and is having difficulty sleeping on the floor. Not to mention the nagging cough that has plagued her for months. As the deacon’s name is called and she rises to go and see the doctor, she tells the woman she wants to help and asks her for her phone number.

On Sunday at the deacon’s church there is a notice in the bulletin, asking for the donation of a bed and mattress. There is prompt response and the deacon calls the woman from the clinic to arrange a time to bring over the bed. The woman tearfully accepts the gift and begins to share more of her story. It is a story of broken relationships, untapped potential, and a lack of opportunities. There is so much behind the story and the deacon is sure the church can continue to help.

This is now more than a bulletin announcement, more than the donation of a bed. It has become about Carol. About her life. Her future, her gifts and her needs. Hopefully it will become a long-term relationship. There is beautiful potential here, which will only be fully realized by a church prepared to walk alongside and a diaconate which has discussed and decided how they are able to help.

Although this story is only loosely based on an account told by a CRC deacon, the usefulness of guidelines for helping and benevolence is real. Who will we help? How often? What boundaries might be needed? Where can we refer those whom we cannot help? Guidelines are intended to help deacons establish a framework for responding to people who request help.

Does your diaconate have something in place?

If not, check out these tools developed by Diaconal Ministries Canada staff.

Focus on Stewardship: Hope CRC in Thunder Bay

Posted by | Equipping Deacons | No Comments

Hope CRC in Thunder Bay, Ontario recently shared how they weave the theme of stewardship throughout their month of worship in September.

Deacons actively encouraged and challenged different leaders and groups to be intentional about stewardship:

1. Council was asked to think of ways to incorporate stewardship discussions into their visits in September.

2. The praise team was encouraged to find songs on stewardship for worship during the Sunday services.

3. Each year, the pastor would be challenged to preach on different types of stewardship; however, because Hope CRC is currently vacant, those leading the reading services were encouraged to find sermons about stewardship online (where there were many good ones from which to choose).

4. Each week during the month of September, little “blurbs” on stewardship were printed in the bulletin.

5. The deacons scheduled stewardship-related offerings during the month of September.

How does your church incorporate stewardship into the worship and life of your church? Leave a comment and let us know.

Looking for resources on stewardship? Click here to find a few that Diaconal Ministries Canada has compiled to get you started.

(the 5 ideas above were adapted from a piece written by Susan Otto, Chair of Deacons, Hope CRC)

NEW! Devotion for Deacons #4

Posted by | Equipping Deacons, Uncategorized | No Comments

Here is the fourth devotion for deacons in the latest set of devotionals from Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC).

In our conversations with deacons across the country, DMC often summarizes the ministry of the deacon into 4 areas: community ministry, compassion, justice, and stewardship. This devotion is the first of 3 to focus on deacons and compassion.

Each devotion is available in a package with additional resources and discussion questions. Alternatively, you may choose to simply download the devotion without the accompanying material.

We pray that you will be blessed by these devotions, and that, together, your diaconate may grow and deepen its relationship with each other and the church and community you serve.

Download devotion 4

Download devotion 4 without resources

Visit the devotion webpage for the first 2 devotions in the second set, as well as the complete first set of devotions.

How do Justice and Faith Intersect?

Posted by | Doing Justice, News & Events | No Comments

“In Christ’s name, the deacons relieve victims of injustice.”  This is the description that many of us hear each spring in the CRC ordination form as new men and women transition into diaconal work.

“Injustice” is a word that, for many of us, brings to mind a variety of images ranging from the government and politics to retribution, the poor and justice organizations.  So what do members of the CRC think about justice? And how do they relate it to their faith? Recently results were released from a research study to explore the relationship of justice and faith. This study was carried out collaboratively by the CRC, the Institute for Christian Studies and the Centre for Community Based Research.

More than 85% of those surveyed said that they “strongly” or “somewhat agree” that “being a Christian requires me to pursue justice.”  However, the research study brought into evidence differing understandings of justice and emphases. It also spoke to various ways that congregations may be mobilized in this area.  It may mean creating a clearer Biblical vision for justice, or seeking opportunities to challenge injustice, or raising awareness of unjust circumstances locally and globally.

Have a look at the results:

Read the report and consider the following possibilities: 

  • Encourage your church to tithe their sermons/small group studies to include the theme of justice.
  • Pray for hope-filled restoration of unjust circumstances around the globe.
  • Discern how you may contribute to the well-being of neighbours in your local community who experience injustice.

Next year, there will be opportunities for interaction and dialogue around the findings of the research projects in different communities and forums across Canada.  Keep an eye out for more information.

In the meantime, let us know how you have come to be encouraged and empowered for justice as an integral part of your church’s faith journey.

(by Katie Karsten, Justice Mobilizer, Diaconal Ministries Canada)

 

Filling a Deacon Position Together: what are your thoughts?

Posted by | Uncategorized | One Comment

Recently a Diaconal Ministries Canada staff person was visiting a number of diaconates. Those visits always provide challenging and thoughtful discussions. Here is one idea that came up:

“Sometimes spouses share some of the responsibilities and functions of a deacon. At one Ontario CRC, deacons raised the idea of electing husband and wife teams to fill a deacon position together.”

What are your thoughts or experiences related to this idea? We want to hear from you! Please comment below.

 

NEW: Third Devotion for Deacons

Posted by | Equipping Deacons | No Comments

Here is the third devotion for deacons in the latest set of devotionals from Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC).

In our conversations with deacons across the country, DMC often summarizes the ministry of the deacon into 4 areas: community ministry, compassion, justice, and stewardship. The first 3 devotions focus on deacons and community ministry.

Each devotion is available in a package with additional resources and discussion questions. Alternatively, you may choose to simply download the devotion without the accompanying material.

We pray that you will be blessed by these devotions, and that, together, your diaconate may grow and deepen its relationship with each other and the church and community you serve.

Download devotion 3

Download devotion 3 without resources

Visit the devotion webpage for the first 2 devotions in the second set, as well as the complete first set of devotions.

Deacons and Transitions

Posted by | Equipping Deacons, Uncategorized | No Comments

It’s that time of the year again. And it may feel like your diaconate is starting all over.

Here are some suggestions to ease the transition for your new deacons and for your diaconate as you move forward together.

10 Important Transitional Issues to Consider:

(follow the links for resources connected to each transitional issue)

  1. What deacons do: Re-read and discuss the “charge” to Deacons.
  2. How to start well: Check our website for devotions.
  3. Build Community and form a strong team: Click here for some suggestions.
  4. Gifts for Ministry: Examine what gifts you have around your “diaconal table.”
  5. Organizing your ministry plans: Develop a Diaconate workplan.
  6. Schedule a Diaconal Ministry Developer (DMD) visit: Who are they?
  7. Develop your ministry: Guidelines for setting an offering schedule, benevolence, etc.
  8. Diaconal Ministry Shares: Why do we pay them?
  9. Diaconal Ministries Canada: Interested in our Annual Report?
  10. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Check out the FAQs or contact the Diaconal Ministries Canada office (Madeline).

There is something for everyone at the Day of Encouragement!

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

How can you become more effective as you volunteer in your church and community?

  • By meeting other people who are passionate for God’s Kingdom and their community.
  • By sharing stories, worship, and experiences with others.
  • By learning from experts in a workshop setting.
  • By asking questions and engaging in dialogue.
  • By enhancing current skills and developing new ones.

This is what the Day of Encouragement is all about!

No matter how and where you serve, come and be encouraged, inspired, and equipped!

After you interact, make connections, listen, learn and praise God, you will leave at the end of the day all fired up to go back to your church and community and serve God where He has placed you.

What to know more?

Click here for the Ancaster (Ontario) Day of Encouragement (October 18, 2014)

Click here for the Edmonton (Alberta) Day of Encouragement (November 8, 2014)

We will see you there!

Doing it Differently: Empowering Deacons to Serve

Posted by | Equipping Deacons | No Comments

Has your church found it difficult to get people to serve as Deacons and Elders?

Our church definitely has experienced this phenomenon in the past few years.  I think our record was more than 8 “no’s” before we got 1 “yes.”  Now that’s pretty sad.  One of the things we were discovering was that people agreed to serve in the role of Deacon or Elder and then, once they found out what it was like and what the expectations were, they found that it didn’t really fit with their gifts.  We also discovered that we didn’t really have adequate training to ensure that new office-bearers felt comfortable in their roles and were able to succeed in fulfilling the church’s expectations.   This left us in an awkward spot. And, yet, the church really needs people to serve in those roles to meet the needs of the community.

This year, we looked at how to improve -to create a more informed decision, and also to better equip those in service.  One of the first things we wanted to do was make the idea of serving less intimidating. So how did we do that?

Well, we invited God into the process.

First, we had people approach potential candidates and ask them to consider praying about the opportunity to serve.  Then we invited them to an information session. This was an amazing experience.

At this meeting, we gave each candidate a job description, highlighting some of the expectations.  Then the best part was hearing from current Deacons and Elders, who shared powerful, personal testimonies of how God really equipped them to fulfill these roles.  Many times they felt inadequate, but God showed up and they were blessed and able to do more than they possibly imagined.

At the end of the meeting, candidates were asked to go and continue to seek God’s will and pray for this opportunity.  They would also receive personal follow-up from a current Deacon or Elder to address any further concerns or fears.

Finally, we asked candidates to make a decision.  And we had an incredible turn-around!  This year, we have 3 new deacon positions available, and we actually have more candidates than positions for the first time since many of us can remember.  Soon, we will be letting God choose those who will be serving Him in the roles of Deacon and Elder.

Our next step is to work with the new leaders by equipping and encouraging them in their roles.  We plan to have some mentoring from more experienced Deacons and Elders.  To help newcomers understand their roles, we will also take advantage of denominational events, such as the Day of Encouragement, and resources like the Deacon and Elder handbooks.

It’s important to note that we did not develop this process ourselves.  It is a treasured best practice among other CRCs which ServiceLink learned about, has documented, and passed on to many other churches.

I pray this will be a blessing to your church as you continue to think about how to invite people into serving and leading in the church.

-written by Lesley Millar Toussaint, Diaconal Ministries Canada Board member, Classis Toronto

NEW! Second Devotion for Deacons

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

Here is the second devotion for deacons in the latest set from Diaconal Ministries Canada.

In our conversations with deacons across the country, we often summarize the ministry of the deacon into 4 areas: community ministry, compassion, justice, and stewardship. The first 3 devotions focus on deacons and community ministry.

Each devotion is available in a package with additional resources and discussion questions. Alternatively, you may choose to simply download the devotion without the accompanying material.

We hope and pray that you will be blessed by these devotions, and that, together, your deacons will grow and deepen their relationship with each other and the church and community you serve.

Download Devotion #2 with resources

Download Devotion #2 without resources

Visit the web page with the first devotion.