To most, justice and mercy are contradictory.
In life, we expect either justice or mercy, but not both at the same time.
Yet the God who loves justice (Psalm 11) is also a God full of mercy and lovingkindness (Psalm 86:5). How can this be? We see the answer in Jesus Christ. Because He is just, God judges our guilt. Then in His mercy and love, He provides a way out: by coming down in the person of Jesus Christ, His Son, and pays the penalty for us. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God is both just and merciful.
Deacons model and demonstrate compassion (mercy) to those who are hurting; they provide hope and encouragement. At the same time, Deacons do justice by leading and encouraging their congregations to be advocates for and with the marginalized and vulnerable people in their local community.
"In imitation of Christ’s mercy, deacons teach us to love God, our neighbours, and the creation with acts of generous sharing, joyful hospitality, thoughtful care, and wise stewardship of all of God’s gifts. Deacons offer holistic responses that respect the dignity of all people, working to change exploitative structures and systems, equipping the church for ministries of reconciliation and peacemaking, and seeking opportunities for advocacy.”
Form for the Ordination of Elders & Deacons, 2016
What is Mercy?
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we see the essence of Jesus' teaching on mercy. An attitude of mercy says: "What's mine is yours if you need it."
In a nutshell, mercy - or compassion - is love in action. In all of their tasks, Deacons demonstrate in word and deed the care of the Lord himself.
“Justice without mercy is cruelty. Mercy without justice is the mother of all dissolution.”
What is Justice?
Justice, at its centre, is about relationships: our relationships with God, with each other, with ourselves, and with creation. God calls us — and Deacons especially — to restore relationships through the pursuit of justice, and to challenge lifestyles, choices and systems so that all may have the opportunity to participate fully in community as image-bearers of God.
...Or use these quick links to find out more about...
Diaconal Ministries works with several agencies to inspire and equip deacons in the area of mercy and justice:
- Office of Social Justice
- Centre for Public Dialogue (Canada-specific)
- Canadian Indigenous Ministry Committee
- Citizens for Public Justice
- World Renew
- Disability Concerns
*Not all of the resources listed were created in the CRCNA. For those that were not, we do not necessarily endorse every link or every statement on their websites. We hope these will aid in your conversations as deacons and churches.
Here are some resources to get you started.
Mercy (Compassion) Resources
Deacons are called to minister with compassion, aka mercy. Compassion is made visible through visits to people in the church and in the community.
Help with Benevolence
Benevolence is closely tied to stewardship but more specifically to how we support the people around us. The Charge to the Deacons tells deacons to “realize that benevolence is a quality of our life in Christ and not merely a matter of financial assistance" and to "be compassionate to those in need and treat them with dignity and respect."
Ten Ways to be a Caring Deacon
Ten tips to help deacons care for others, as well as themselves, as they live out their calling and serve their congregation and community.
Helping Without Harming in Church Benevolence
“I wish our church could do more to truly help those in financial need among us.”
Have you ever thought that? Building on the teachings of "Helping Without Harming," this workshop will guide your church and deacons to implement a wise approach to your benevolence work.
Benevolence 101 Workshop
Deacons show mercy and compassion through their Benevolence work, both in their congregations and in their community.
Contact your local Diaconal Coach or our field staff to go through this helpful workshop.
What is Justice?
Justice and the Deacon's Role
Justice is a big concept and everyone has a different idea of what it is and how it’s done.
Read our handout which lays out a basic introduction to what justice is and the deacon's role.
Ten Ways to Do Justice
A handout from the Office of Social Justice and Faith Formation Ministries.
3 Steps to Pursuing Justice in Your Church
Learn how to become aware, assess situations, and act for justice.
Do Justice is a conversation starter for justice in the Christian Reformed Church. Believing we are better together, they aim to find new ideas and perspectives and share better ways to engage in justice work, while remembering our motivation and growing our faith.
Food Insecurity Webinar Series (2022)
Many congregations are involved in some type of food insecurity program, whether that’s a food pantry, community meal, or community garden. But how are these efforts impacting our community and actually solving the problem?
This 5-part webinar series which explores Food Access, Insecurity, and Disparity.
Check out episode #2, "From Food Bank to Community Driven Response" featuring Diaconal Coach John Klein-Geltink. John is also a Board Member and active volunteer with Operation Sharing in Oxford County, Ontario.
This webinar series has now ended but you can view all of the episodes by registering today using the link below. Videos will be sent to you!
View and/or download our list of books and websites to help your church and diaconate dig a bit deeper!
Learn About Biblical Advocacy
Explore how to identify a situation in your community that is unjust and requires action.
The Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue periodically sends out Action Alerts relating to our main justice issues. Each alert contains legislative background in a CRC context and a few talking points to address with your member of Parliament. Click on the button below to find out more and to view the latest alerts!
Justice Workshops/Learning Events
Justice: An Everyday Spiritual Journey
The biblical call to do justice is something that we as Christians strive to live out. However, in a world with so much injustice, where is a person (or a church) to start?! We can get easily overwhelmed when trying to address too much at once, when programs are vague and unsustainable, or when issues are so complex that it seems like our efforts are merely ‘a drop in the bucket’.
Co-hosted by Diaconal Ministries Canada and the CRC's Justice Mobilizer, this workshop will help you to demystify justice by exploring how the bible talks about peace, justice, and mercy, identifying how exploitive structures cause injustice, and exploring how advocacy and reconciliation can bring change and healing when injustice has been done.
Includes discussion and help developing your own action plan.
Helping Without Harming in Local & Global Community Engagement
“When relief is merely a band-aid that alleviates the symptoms of poverty but fails to address the root causes, then it is illegitimate. Such assistance merely helps people to manage their poverty rather than to escape from it.”
('Establishing a Church-based Welfare-to-Work Mentoring Ministry', by Amy Sherman)
Deacons want to help - but what if our help could actually be doing harm? What if our programs and resources aren't addressing the root causes of poverty, food insecurity and other injustices?
This workshop trains and equips deacons, churches, and organizations to address poverty and injustice both locally and globally in good, helpful, wholesome ways.
Based on the best-selling book, When Helping Hurts, by Brian Flikkert and Steven Corbett.
Visit our Events page regularly to find a workshop near you. Or click below to contact us to host your own workshop! We'll help you with all of the promotion and planning.
Workshops offered by our partners
Our friends at the CRC Centre for Public Dialogue have a full lineup of interactive workshops.
Contact them anytime to arrange a workshop, get information on hosting one yourself or to arrange a guest speaker! Email email@example.com or visit their website.
Not sure where to start?
Contact our Justice Mobilizer
If you’d like to speak to someone about a justice issue in your community, hold a workshop or more... reach out to the Christian Reformed Church’s Justice Mobilizer, Cindy Stover.
Contact Your Local Diaconal Coach
Every Classis in Canada has a Diaconal Coach that is trained and ready to serve you and your church/diaconate.
Reach out to your Coach today!
Helping youth make a difference in their community!
Our NewGround Program includes a Youth Justice initiative to reach the next generation of justice-seekers and inspire them to get involved in their local communities!
Youth will find innovative ways to address an injustice in their community with the help of grant money and coaching, as well as by partnering with the deacons in their local church.