Are you a new deacon in the Christian Reformed Church?

Being a deacon is an exciting opportunity to lead others in your church community to share Christ's love and mercy with others. Our goal as Diaconal Ministries Canada is to support you as you serve in your new role.

Frequently Asked Questions


If you're just getting started, you probably have a lot of questions. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about the role of a deacon.

We've organized them into a variety of categories; just click on the question and the answer will appear below it.

There is a lot of information here so we encourage you to bookmark this page and return to it as your progress through your term as a deacon.

The Ministry of the Deacon

What is a deacon?

Deacons in the Christian Reformed Church are chosen by their local congregations to give leadership to diaconal ministry. In this ministry, deacons empower members of their own congregation and partner with neighbouring churches, Christian services, and local agencies.

What exactly is my role as a deacon?
How can a deacon make a difference?
When is a diaconate (a team of deacons) at its best?
When is a diaconal meeting at its best?
What provides a smooth transition of new deacons into the diaconate?
What is the ideal number of deacons for a church?

The Diaconal Network

What is a Diaconal Conference?

Though not as common as it once was, a Diaconal Conference is group 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 can:

  • promote mutual learning opportunities for the diaconates within a Classis;
  • provide training for new deacons and leadership roles for deacons in the church;
  • stimulate support for existing community ministries, especially local NewGround partners (formerly Operation Manna);
  • encourage diaconates to search for new ministry opportunities and ways to collaborate;
  • communicate with Classis on a regular basis where and when possible.

CRC Classis Websites:

What is Diaconal Ministries Canada?
What is a Diaconal Coach?
How can a Diaconal Coach help our diaconate/church?
How is Diaconal Ministries Canada funded?

The Deacon and Diaconal Visits

Why are deacons required to do visits?

Be compassionate to those in need and treat them with dignity and respect; hold in trust all sensitive matters confided to you. Encourage with words that create hope in hearts and with deeds that bring joy into as examples of Christ Jesus; look to the interests of others.” (Charge to Deacons, Form of Ordination, 2016)

The primary role of the Deacons is to share the love of Christ and demonstrate His caring concern to those in need. Because of this, a Deacon should always be aware of the needs of the congregation and its individual members.

Who may deacons be required to visit?

The Deacon and the Congregation

When is a congregation thriving in diaconal ministry?

“The church does not simply have deacons, but is, by its very nature and calling a diaconate. The call of deacons is to motivate and mobilize the congregation for works of service (diakonia).” From: Diakonia Remixed – Task Force report to Synod 2013

Ephesians 4:12-13 states that the purpose of the various offices is “to prepare God’s people for works of service.” Deacons must coach members to be engaged in the care and community ministries around the church.

Congregation members are partners with deacons in diaconal ministry. Deacons need to communicate that members are valuable, essential and effective partners in the growth and life of the body of Christ. Then the involvement in the ministry of mercy and compassion is multiplied on a continual basis. Here are some examples that demonstrate how deacons can use the church members' gifts:

  • Deacons ask people who have the ability to lead small groups to organize a support group for single parents.
  • Food is supplied to an unemployed father and a willing, capable man is asked to develop a long-term relationship with him.
  • People with mechanical or construction skills are invited to help families experiencing car/home difficulties during crisis situations.

The congregation is at its best when its neighbourhood recognizes its members as a people whose convictions are expressed with words and deeds of love and compassion. It is at its best when it cultivates and uses the gifts of its members to show and share the love of Christ.

What are some guidelines for involving congregational members as partners in ministry?

The Deacon and Community Ministry

What are some ways in which deacons may lead the church to engage with its community

There are many doorways into the community that God opens for us. Deacons can participate in creating some of the following entry points for ministry in the community by...

  • Creating Awareness: This helps church members become aware of the life experience of particular people in the community (to help them connect).
  • Identifying Service Opportunities: This helps church members to become personally involved in service work and/or a one-to-one relationship (to help build relationships with people).
  • Developing Partnerships through which the church can work with other agencies/churches on a joint project (to help accomplish a task better).
  • Evaluating Existing Activities to consider how existing programs could be reshaped to provide better access, relevance, and connection to the community.
  • Developing New Ministry Activities that respond to specific needs or opportunities (to develop an intentional Christian response).
How is a diaconate able to respond to the requests for assistance from its community?
How does a church identify opportunities for ministry in the community?
What are some of the steps involved with a Community Opportunity Scan?
What is NewGround?
Is NewGround available throughout Canada?
How is the NewGround program funded?
How does a church/ministry apply to NewGround?

The Deacon and Stewardship

What is the role of the deacon in the area of stewardship?

"Inspiring Faithful Stewardship" is a key part of the deacon's charge. Stewardship has to do with the special steward/manager relationship we have with God - the master Creator. It has to do with the use, care and giving of all the gifts that God has entrusted to us:

  • our time
  • our talents (skill/abilities)
  • our treasures (money/material wealth), and
  • our trees (creation/environment)

Diaconal Ministries Canada collaborates with Christian Stewardship Services (CSS) and with the Canadian Ministries Office - CRCNA. This collaborative network defines stewardship as a "journey in which congregations and individuals joyfully and obediently manage the talents, treasures, time and other resources that God has given them to be Christ's presence in our neighbourhoods and communities around the world." For a quick overview of the deacon’s role in stewardship, click HERE..

How does a diaconate prepare an Offering Schedule?
What does a diaconate do with the many, varied requests for financial support?
Why does the CRCNA require us to pay Ministry Shares?
How do deacons assist the church to “excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7)?
How can deacons respond to the challenge of members not supporting the church financially?
How may the diaconate be involved in tuition assistance for Christian day school attendance?

The Deacon and Promoting Mercy and Justice

How do deacons raise awareness and inspire action in the area of justice?

Most of us are familiar with the saying, “Give someone a fish and they have food for a day. Teach them to fish and they have food for a lifetime.” Engaging in community ministry involves assessing the various needs in our neighbourhoods and contributing in more ways than simply “giving them a fish.”

But is teaching someone to fish always enough? Shouldn’t we also ask whether he/she owns a fishing rod, or whether they have legal access to the lake, or whether the water is too polluted for the fish to be safe to eat?

Seeking justice involves asking the deeper questions about “why” some of our vulnerable neighbours suffer injustice, and then pursuing an answer which includes the structures (organizations, governments, etc) of society and how they too can perpetuate the injustice. As we begin to find answers, we create awareness of injustices and speak out for justice through advocacy.

When deacons are installed in the church they are called, in Christ’s name, to both “relieve victims of injustice” and “be prophetic critics of the waste, injustice, and selfishness in our society.” Since they often walk closely with those who experience injustices, deacons have a special opportunity and responsibility to not only respond directly to immediate needs with compassion (mercy), but also to promote awareness of injustice and engage in advocacy for justice.

Diaconal Ministries Canada is committed to sharing, with the church, ways of living the biblical call to justice and to mobilize for advocacy. While justice often requires impartiality, there are times when God calls us to partiality, to live out a special concern for the vulnerable people groups in our country.

Visit our Mercy & Justice page to find helpful resources on how your church might walk alongside the vulnerable in your community and to see a full listing of our Canadian partners.

Who are some of the most vulnerable people/groups in Canada?
What are some CRC agencies that Diaconal Ministries works with in the area of justice?

The Deacon and Refugee Ministry

What is a refugee?

All kinds of people are refugees. No one is a refugee by choice. In short, a refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. For a quick snapshot of what a refugee is AND isn’t, check out this refugee factsheet put together by World Renew, OSJ, and the Centre for Public Dialogue.

What is refugee sponsorship?
Why should churches sponsor refugees?
Is assistance available for the sponsorship of a refugee family?
What is the role of Diaconal Ministries Canada in refugee sponsorship?

The Deacon and World Renew

Speaking of World Renew, who are they?

World Renew is the relief, development, and educational ministry of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, both in Canada and in the US. (Prior to 2012, this agency was called the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, or CRWRC for short.)

World Renew envisions a world where people experience and extend Christ's compassion and live together in hope as God's community. Their mission is compelled by God’s deep passion for justice & mercy, therefore they join communities around the world to renew hope, reconcile lives, and restore creation. Their three focus areas are Community Development, Disaster Response and Rehabilitation, and Peace & Justice. Together World Renew and its partners find ways to provide lasting change for people in more than 30 countries around the world.

What is the relationship between the Deacon and World Renew?
What is the relationship between Diaconal Ministries Canada and World Renew?