equipping deacons

Serving a God of Change – Part 1: Why Change is Hard

Posted by | Equipping Deacons, Uncategorized | No Comments

Happy New Year!!!

Can I still say that?! How long are we supposed to say this to each other anyway? Can I say it to someone I am seeing for the first time in the new year? If so, this could go onto until June. Is this greeting only welcome the first couple weeks into January? Or is that even too long? And what’s so exciting about a NEW year anyway? Well, lots we think!

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been pondering this quite a bit: what’s so great about NEW things? Why do we even need new things? Why do we need a new year? Why are people so obsessed with change?

Even the Bible is filled with references to “new” things:

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘“The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him’” (Lamentations 3:22-24).

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him” (Psalm 40:3).

Sometimes when we read these verses, our first thought can be What was wrong with the former command? Or Why do we need another new song? I like the old one(s)!

Let’s face it: as human beings, most of the time we don’t LIKE change and even more, we don’t see the necessity for it.

Not many people love venturing off into uncharted waters. We seem to know instinctly that a new way will present both new possibilities and new problems.

Here are a few reasons I came up with as to why this may be:

  1. Change means something has ended OR that something needs to die or change: This one is hard for most of us. As humans, we tend to avoid loss at all costs, even though we know that jobs can end, people sometimes move away, kids must grow up, etc.
    DMC is no stranger to change; over the past 5 years we’ve seen 3 new staff members come on board due to retirements and resignations.
  2. We think change means we were doing it all wrong before: By definition, change is a departure from the past. People who are a part of the current ‘system’ or way of doing things (the one is being superseded) can become defensive. To them, change can mean something isn’t working and therefore what they’ve been doing is all wrong, which, to them, means THEY were wrong.
    When new staff, new Diaconal Ministry Developers, new deacons, etc. come in and start asking questions about resources or the way we do things, it can make us uncomfortable!
  3. People LOVE the status quo: This one continues our thoughts in #2. Change means no longer doing things “the way they’ve always been done” and this can make people feel uneasy. Without understanding why this new change is necessary, some may become defensive or betrayed or even disengage completely.
  4. Change can equal more work and sacrifice: And herein lies the challenge and one of the best reasons to AVOID change – it typically creates MORE work. Not only does it take time away from our ‘regular’ work, but we are certain to encounter inevitable glitches that can happen along the way. I can certainly attest to this one!!
  5. Change can cause ripple effects: Related to #4 above, change can create ripples that are neither anticipated nor desired. The ripples can mean even more changes need to happen or that certain issues will need to be addressed.
  6. People know change brings a new set of possibilities and problems: Not many people love venturing off into uncharted waters. We seem to know instinctly that a new way will present both new possibilities and new problems (aka the ripple effects!). So we put aside the possibilities just so we can avoid the problems. We decide the risk isn’t worth the reward.

So after all of that, why CHANGE? IS it really worth it?

Sometimes change is good, and, like underwear, most of the time change is necessary.

And then it hit me: UNDERWEAR. At a church plant I worked at a few years ago, we did a sermon series on change and we used a picture of a pair of underwear for our series graphics. It certainly drove the point home: sometimes change is good, and, like underwear, most of the time change is necessary. And how do we put underwear on? One leg at a time (well, normally).

So here’s the challenge; for us, for deacons, for churches: welcome the changes! Hear this good news: God is doing some amazing things in those moments.

In our next post, we’ll unpack this theme a bit more, looking at how God is always at work and that, with God’s help, we can be better at embracing the changes He brings. We’ll also give you a sneak peek at some exciting changes and new initiatives coming to Diaconal Ministries Canada and ultimately – to deacons and churches across Canada!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
(Romans 15:13)

Webinar Addresses Helping that Helps at Christmas (and beyond!)

Posted by | Doing Justice, Engaging Community, Equipping Deacons | No Comments

Christmas is almost here! I’m sure you didn’t need that reminder (at all!). Costco shelves and dollar store aisles have had their Christmas supplies out since October, if not sooner. Churches and charities have been busy planning and promoting their Christmas programs and ministries for a while now. Social media has been buzzing about who deserves our time and money this year (and who we should avoid). While this can be the most wonderful time of the year and a time we are all feeling just a little bit more charitable, it can also be the most overwhelming. Many not only want to find the perfect gift for their family members and friends, but also want to give back – to their community and those who are less fortunate.

Over the past year, World Renew and Diaconal Ministries Canada have teamed up to lead a workshop called, “Helping Without Harming”. This workshop helps participants learn how to alleviate poverty and injustice through effective engagement in their local and global communities. It encourages churches and charities to discover how food banks, deacon funds, short-term service trips and other benevolent activities can be more impactful and meaningful.

Last Wednesday, December 5th, Wendy Hammond, Church Relations Manager for World Renew (US), along with Andy Ryskamp (CRCNA Diaconal Ministry Initiative, US) and Ron VandenBrink (National Director for Diaconal Ministries Canada) hosted a webinar called “Helping That Helps at Christmas and Beyond.” This timely (and timeless!) webinar was insightful and helpful to those who attended. One participant thanked the panel and remarked that this webinar was a “good reminder to work WITH people rather than FORthem” if we truly want to see lasting change.

This webinar was a “good reminder to work WITH people rather than FOR them” if we truly want to see lasting change.

-Webinar participant

You can find the webinar here. Feel free to share it with your church ministry teams and members, your diaconate, your family and friends or anyone you think of. All will benefit, especially those we are striving to help this time of year.

For those with further questions, the following resources and tips were offered up later on in the webinar:

  1. For CANADIAN CRCs;
    1. Find or host a local HWH workshop! The next workshop will be held in Edmonton in January, 2019, with the next one happening in Nanaimo, BC in early February,2019;
    1. Several books can offer practical help: The When Helping Hurts book series, Toxic Charity, Charity Detox;
    1. Contact your local Diaconal Ministry Developer and he/she can help with these conversations;
    1. Visit Diaconal Ministries Canada’s website and go through our Community Engagement resources.
  • For US CRCs:
    • Find your local Diaconal Conferences or email Andy Ryskamp for assistance;
    • Look for organizations to collaborate with that have a “Helping Without Harming” mentality.

Resources mentioned in this recording:

Diaconal Ministries Canada

Lupton Center

The Network (Deacons Section)

Healthy Principles of Community Engagement for the Local Church – handout

Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development (Myers, 2011)

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself   (Corbett and Fikkert, 2014)

World Renew Gift Catalog

Somethin’ to Shout About – Our Diaconal Ministry Developers

Posted by | Equipping Deacons, Job Opportunities, Uncategorized | One Comment
(Pictured AboveHarvey Buit (r) with Bill Groot-Nibbelink, listening and learning at the annual DMD Retreat in January of 2018)

 

One of the greatest assets of Diaconal Ministries Canada over the last 17 years has been its network of Diaconal Ministry Developers, or DMDs for short. DMDs are men and women of all ages who are experienced in diaconal work and are available to help deacons understand their role and work out their calling in their church and in their community. In a nutshell, DMDs are encouragers and coaches, and throughout the year, they aim to connect with every diaconate in every Christian Reformed Church across Canada and are available to assist churches in any way they can.

Harvey Buit became a DMD in Classis Alberta North in 2014 and had the opportunity to work with churches in Central Alberta for the past 4 years. During his time as a DMD, Harvey’s impact was meaningful and widespread. Jessie Edgington, a Northern Alberta Diaconal Conference consultant, told us how appreciative he was of Harvey’s faithful service and how he enjoyed their work together. “Harvey has been a valuable servant to the work of the office of the Deacon within Classis Alberta North. He has faithfully worked to connect the diaconates of the central parts of Alberta, to bring words of encouragement and teaching and he has shown the importance of connection to a larger body by his faithful example… His humble, faithful service has been appreciated and will be missed.” 

Harvey has faithfully worked to connect the diaconates of the central parts of Alberta, to bring words of encouragement and teaching and he has shown the importance of connection to a larger body by his faithful example.

As Harvey is now ready to ‘hang up his hat’ and transition into full retirement, we asked him to share about his experience and here is what he wrote:

Could this job be for me? That’s what I thought when I read the announcement in our church bulletin. Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC) was looking for a Diaconal Ministry Developer in Central Alberta – right in the area where I live. I was at a point in my life where I had retired from my full-time job but was not able to fully retire so the part-time work seemed like it could be a good fit. But the last time I was a deacon, Diaconal Ministries Canada did not even exist yet, at least not in Alberta, so how could I be qualified? I thought. So I asked God and my wife about it and then kind of let the idea go.
It wasn’t until a while later a member of our church came to me and said I should apply as he thought I would be the right person for this kind of work. God definitely answers prayer though people sometimes!
The four years of being a Diaconal Ministry Developer (DMD) has been meaningful work for me. I discovered what DMC is all about and how it works hard to equip deacons and I also met many wonderful, dedicated people along the way. Meeting with the nine (9) individual diaconates in my area to encourage them and share DMC’s information and resources was something I enjoyed. While organizing and putting on workshops didn’t always come easy to me, I learned a lot over the years. Our yearly DMD Retreat/gathering was a highlight and it always encouraged me to keep going.
I am excited to enter “full-time” retirement to be able to begin the next chapter in my and my wife’s life. We hope we will be able to do some traveling and also volunteering. I will miss all the wonderful people I’ve met and the various DMC events and gatherings, but am grateful to God for this opportunity and that He used someone in my life to nudge to me to say “Yes!”.

Harvey working with a World Renew DRS Team.

We can’t say enough about how grateful we are to Harvey for his years of dedicated work and his willingness to learn and grow in his role as a DMD. We know many churches were blessed by his work. Tyler Guppy, a deacon from Woodynook CRC in Lacombe, Alberta, shared this with us: “It was abundantly clear that Harvey not only wanted to empower and educate Deacons, but he also sought to make an authentic personal connection in his coaching role with Deacons. His focused work as a Diaconal Ministry Developer has had a strong, positive impact on many throughout our denomination.” 

Ted Vander Meulen, a deacon at Wolf Creek Community Church, agreed. “I’ve had contact with Harvey for the past two years since I became a deacon at Wolf Creek Community Church. I appreciated his dedication to the job, his willingness to meet with and offer guidance to the diaconates and his unassuming and thoughtful demeanor.” Chris and Anna van Haastert, deacons at Rimbey CRC, echoed this, sharing how thankful they were for all of the time and commitment Harvey invested in his role as their DMD.

Harvey’s focused work as a Diaconal Ministry Developer has had a strong, positive impact on many throughout our denomination.

So there you have it! Because of the time, energy, and care our DMDs put into each church they serve, they truly are DMC’s greatest asset. They play an essential role in propelling the mission of DMC to inspire, empower and equip every deacon in every church as they animate their congregations to join in God’s transforming work. Harvey will be greatly missed and we wish him God’s richest blessings in his retirement!


So… What About YOU? 

Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC) is looking to fill vacant positions in western and eastern Canada and we are hoping you will heed the call! These part-time positions come with compensation and full training. Is this something YOU’D be interested in? Perhaps like Harvey you’ve heard about this role and you’ve put off finding out more.

If you are feeling the pull of the Lord’s leading, please contact the DMC office at dmc@crcna.org or 1-800-730-3490 for more information and to connect with one of our Regional Ministry Developers. We’d love to share what this exciting role is all about!


Will You Help Us Do More?

Our DMDs are a vital part of how DMC is able to fulfil its mission and mandate! And as you read above, their impact is powerful and has lasting effects on churches and individuals. Our DMDs do their best to see diaconates (and churches) thrive in the areas of community engagement, stewardship, and mercy and justice.

Because our DMDs do such important and valuable work, we honour that by providing compensation and full training to them. In order for us to continue to do that well and also to grow our team of DMDs, we need people like you to partner with us today. You can make a one-time donation OR become a monthly donor to help us continue our mission to inspire, empower and equip deacons through our DMD Network – so that every single community across Canada sees and experiences the transforming love Jesus Christ our Lord!

STOP! Collaborate and Listen…

Posted by | Equipping Deacons, Uncategorized | No Comments

Waaaaay back in June, we talked about Deacons at Classis & Synod. Then in July, we continued that conversation and included Community Engagement. At first glance, you may have wondered (or still wonder!) what these 2 things have in common. Well – both require Teamwork, a.k.a. COLLABORATION.

In our post dated June 11, “What’s Gonna Work? Teamwork!”, we shared some learnings from the book of Nehemiah. In chapter 3, we read about the people of Jerusalem rebuilding the damaged wall around the city. In this story, we see a beautiful picture of how the residents there worked together. They put aside their positions, their genders and even their loyalties, in order to accomplish this great feat. Priests and rulers worked alongside perfume-makers and goldsmiths. People came from other cities and regions to lend a hand. Men worked alongside women. Some repaired two sections while others simply repaired the section opposite their own homes.

As we continued sharing stories and articles on our e-Quip Diaconal Blog, we kept seeing that word and theme pop up! So, what is collaboration? For the purpose of this article, it means working with another or others on a joint project, OR something created by working with another or others. To put it more plainly: Two or more people working together towards shared goals.

While some will still poo-poo the notion of teamwork, saying it stifles ingenuity, it limits the individual’s right to pursue their own hopes and dreams, and/or it slows down progress, (I kid you not! Check out this rant, er article!), we TOTALLY DISAGREE! For those of us who profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, we see it differently. Because at the end of the day, IT’S NOT ABOUT US, and it’s certainly not about our own individual needs and wants.

Ephesians 4:16 sums this up perfectly:

“[Christ] makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

Just read that one more time before moving on. Teamwork is Christ’s work and when each person does their part, there is growth and health and above all, LOVE.

“[Christ] makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)

Why Teamwork WORKS!

Out of this story from Nehemiah, we drew 4 important lessons regarding teamwork and collaboration:
1. Teamwork means no one’s work was more important depending on how much they did;
2. Teamwork means we are each lending our own gifts and abilities to work toward one common goal;
3. Our positions or titles and even our gender must be put aside for the greater good AND the grander vision of what God would have us do;
4. While we often pray for prosperity and peace, hard times or calamity can be an opportunity to bring us together and make us stronger.

Steven J. Cole sums this up by saying, “To accomplish God’s purpose, we need a common vision, dedicated leaders, and willing workers who do their part.” That’s what teamwork is all about and that’s why it’s an important part in how we live out our faith and ministry to one another.

So let’s take a closer look at the 4 points listed above and find out what real teamwork and collaboration looks like and why it works:

Teamwork means no one’s work was more important depending on how much they did.

1 Corinthians 12 sums this up perfectly.

1 Now, dear brothers and sisters,[a]regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this…4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other…. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. …
18 Our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body .21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.
27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

We read about this recently in the story about First CRC’s new ministry, called Opportunity to Bless (or OTB). The Brandon, Manitoba, church began this ministry after hearing about it from another local church and how it had propelled their congregation to become more outward-focussed. It’s a simple ministry with considerable potential and meaningful impact. And the best part? Everyone can participate! From donating needed items, to praying for the local organizations, to connecting more personally to the community organization they are helping (by volunteering or using their services), each person can help out in big and small ways no matter their age, gender, occupation or location!

Teamwork means we are each lending our own gifts and abilities to work toward one common goal.

When deacons gather together in Classis Chatham to talk about the future of their Diaconal Conference and how deacons can fulfill their mandate regionally, this is the Body of Christ working together. While each church can offer its own unique gifts and abilities, the deacons of this Classis are committed to loving God and loving their neighbours in tangible ways and they believe they can be better TOGETHER!

Collaboration is two or more people working together towards shared goals.

This point was also reiterated in our interview with deacon Ada Kloet, from Oakville, ON. Ada shared that her “church began to reach out by holding community dinners and a community cooking group, running a year-round food pantry, holding bible studies, being a part of a Justice Film Festival, and more. The church has discovered that collaboration in ministry helps them offer more wholistic assistance to the people they are serving. Their church really owns the ministries listed above and most are done in collaboration with other agencies in their city or region. Networking with local agencies who can assist their church not only helps the church (so they aren’t trying to do it all), but also the individual person or family receiving assistance: if someone else can do it better, let them!”

This opens up the conversation about Spiritual Gifts and passions. Within your own diaconate, each person around that table has been gifted with strengths and passions and a willingness to serve in a particular area. Take the time to discover those gifts! Harness those passions! And don’t forget to mobilize your congregation to join in! If every Deacon around your table cared only for creation and stewardship of our world, who would help inspire and animate your congregation to visit the shut-ins or work with Refugees? Ada noted the importance of encouraging one another’s passions, no matter where that may lead someone to serve. In her own church’s diaconate, one deacon there had a passion for stewardship and was led to serve in a different ministry. Try to celebrate this, instead of begrudging it!

Our positions or titles and even our gender must be put aside for the greater good AND the grander vision of what God would have us do

This point is bang on when we talk about why Deacons are needed at Classis and Synod. In God’s Kingdom, we are reminded over and over again that no talent or skill or person is greater than another. Remember 1 Corinthians 12: 5-6 above? “There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.”

Seating Deacons at Classis and Synod meetings helps to strengthen God’s Church, the body of Christ. The whole church is fully represented when all the offices (deacon, elder, pastor) are represented at these larger denominational gatherings. For more info on this, check out our brand new handout/resource: Top Reasons Why Deacons are Needed at Classis & Synod.

Remember, we are the BODY of Christ, working and functioning as ONE with our own special work to do (Eph. 4:16). We can’t all be an eye, or a leg, or a neck. It just wouldn’t work. And it would look SUPER silly!

While we often pray for prosperity and peace, hard times or calamity can be an opportunity to bring us together and make us stronger.

This couldn’t be seen any clearer than in the story of Meadowlands CRC in Ancaster, ON. The church and its surrounding community had been experiencing vandalism. The church brought together concerned neighbours, city politicians and police so that they could share ideas and join forces to make their community safer. They all knew the church couldn’t do it alone. Neither could the neighbours do it alone. Not even the Politicians or the Police could do it alone! It was going to take teamwork! COLLABORATION!

What started as a ‘problem’ has now become a reason for collaboration that will grow beyond solving the vandalism issue. In this story we read, “Moving forward, the church hopes to create a “community hub” for the Meadowlands neighbourhood that will gather to identify and talk about the needs for residents and to be a unified voice for safety. What an incredible story of seeking and discovering where God was at work, and then joining Him!” And the best, most interesting part? The church had been praying for a way to have ‘more in common’ with their neighbourhood and THIS was how God answered that prayer. WOW! What a wonderful reminder to keep our eyes on Jesus when the storms come our way and not pray or wish them away too quickly before He can do something great!

Collaboration at DMC

Here at DMC, we believe in Collaboration too! (Hey, we don’t just ‘talk the talk’ over here ya know!) Here are some ways we collaborate with other agencies and ministries to better serve deacons across Canada:

1. We have begun a joint, monthly e-newsletter with some diaconal friends in the US. This is being done so we can provide even more helpful resources and tools to better equip deacons and churches. A big thanks to Mr. Andy Ryskamp for his work on this;
2. While we are doing away with the annual Ancaster Day of Encouragement (DOE), we are helping various Classis and churches run regional DOE’s so they can focus on local issues and initiatives better. These events are a wonderful way for ministry leaders to encourage one another and network, reminding everyone that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
We are also working on a new venture in partnership with World Renew and Resonate Global Mission to offer larger, more specialized workshops/events across Canada for those involved in diaconate work. Stay tuned for more details!
3. We have been working diligently with Christian Stewardship Services over the past year to find and share helpful stewardship resources so that deacons can help their members serve God with the 4 T’s; Time, Trees, Talents & Treasures.
4. Each year we bring together our Operation Manna Partners for a Ministry Networking Day (MND) so they can learn, share stories and ideas, and network with one another. For many of our partners, this is a highlight for them: it not only reminds our OM partners that they, too, are not alone in the work they do, but it encourages them to be with others who have experienced some of the same joys and challenges! A new online community is also being set-up by our Regional Ministry Developers as we speak, so our OM Partners can ‘continue’ their conversations long after the MND has ended.

How About You?

Where do you see collaboration in your church and/or diaconate? In your city/neighbourhood? In your Classis? What have been the advantages? What have been the challenges? When is collaboration NOT the best way to do ministry?

Need More Help?

If your diaconate (or church) would like to begin collaborating with other local churches or agencies but you aren’t sure where to start, contact one of our Regional Ministry Developers (Tammy, Eastern Canada; Rachel, Western Canada) or your local Diaconal Ministry Developer.

Hey Deacons… LISTEN UP!

Posted by | Equipping Deacons, Uncategorized | One Comment

Deacons 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. In imitation of Christ’s mercy, deacons teach us to love God, our neighbors, 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. To help them accomplish these tasks, 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. 

If you’ve read the Form of Ordination for Elders & Deacons (2016), these words will be familiar. In a nutshell, this is what being a deacon is all about. So if we had to sum all of this up in one sentence, over here at DMC we would say:

DEACONS SERVE BY LISTENING.

Huh? ‘What?’ you say? That word doesn’t even appear in this paragraph, or anywhere in the Form of Ordination for that matter! Well, here’s what we mean by that. If we’re honest, many of us go through our day HEARING those around us, but not really LISTENING to them. Yes, there is a difference. Simply put:

Hearing is an involuntary act of perceiving sound by the ear which, unless you are hearing-impaired, happens effortlessly;

Listening is something you consciously choose to do and it requires concentration. Listening normally leads to understanding.

So… we’ll say it again. Many of us go through our day HEARING those around us, but not really LISTENING to them. And hey, it’s hard! Our world is full of even more distraction and noise than ever before, making listening is a TON of work. It requires a lot of patience and concentration, among other things!

So what does this have to do with being a Deacon and why is it so important? Don’t the Elders do the listening and the Deacons do the DOING?

Here is why we believe LISTENING is vitally important in the work Deacons do (and for all of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus for that matter!):

1. Listening Builds Trust: It shows the other person they are appreciated and valued and that they matter. Let’s be honest; people LOVE to talk about themselves! And the more they talk, the more they’ll open up – about the things they love, the things they worry about, the things they fear. The longer they talk and you listen, the more they’ll share. The deeper they’ll go. Once this happens, a bond is formed. And for many, this is where healing can begin. “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.” (Rachel Naomi Remen)
2. Listening Brings About Mutual Respect and Understanding: When we listen properly and actively, it helps us see the world through another’s eyes. “One of the biggest mistakes we make is assuming that other people think the way we think.” (Author unknown) We must practice listening to understand, not to reply. Listen to learn and discover the story behind the message. Listening and taking time to ask follow-up questions can bring clarity and avoid quick judgments or harsh reactions. It’s been said that people need your kindness more than your opinion.
3. Listening Brings New Insights: If you allow it, any encounter can be a teaching moment. Every single person you meet can teach you something you didn’t already know before. And in a team atmosphere, gaining a better understanding of a problem or challenge can help you find better solutions! When listening, picking up on the non-verbal is just as important. The best leaders listen and observe what people AREN’T saying in order to really hear them.

One trap deacons (and other ministry leaders likely) can fall into is “We’re too BUSY to listen!” You’ve got things to do and little time to do it. Not many of us cannot afford the luxury of spending the time and energy to simply listen to those around us. We interrupt to wrap up a conversation or to cut a long story short when we’re in a rush or we think we have more important things to do. Trust me; I’ve done this with my chatty neighbour, Jim, more than once! I get it! BUT! What if instead of just DOING, DOING, DOING all the time, we aggressively seek out new and better ways to listen?? How would that change how we do ministry? How do we life!?

Learning to listen well won’t happen overnight. It requires discipline, effort, and intentionality. And while part of this may be creating margin to allow for deep listening, this doesn’t mean it’s another ‘activity’ to add to our already-full calendar: it’s simply the attitude and posture we take on when we communicate with those around us. As stated above, it’s a choice we can make as we go about our daily interactions. In order for deacons to do ministry effectively, inside AND outside the church walls, they must become better listeners. If deacons are all about “demonstrating in word and deed the care of the Lord himself,” (aka loving others), isn’t the first duty of love to listen? (Paul Tillick) “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (James 1:19) LISTEN MORE; TALK LESS. Pretty simple, right? Yet, too often our human nature takes over and we are slow to hear, quick to speak, and quick to anger. If we fail to listen, we fail to build trust, gain mutual respect and seek understanding, and our ministry will fall completely flat.

So this begs the question: Who, as Deacons, should you be listening to?

1. God
2. Each Other
3. Your Community

We’re sure this topic has already conjured up some questions. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll unpack each of these areas a bit more so we can learn together what it truly means to be better listeners as you go about your work of “awakening compassion, demonstrating mercy, seeking justice, and collaborating with God’s Spirit for the transformation of persons and communities!” As we move through this month (and the months that follow!), let us never miss an opportunity to listen deeply and actively!

#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)

2017 Ministry Networking Day

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MY House is one of our Operation Manna (OM) partners. In partnership with Mission Hills Community CRC, MY House is a centre for vulnerable youth that provides essential services like a place to eat, shower, do laundry and access medical care.

Calvin Williams was one of the participants of the MND 2017 and offered some encouraging feedback after the day’s workshops:

“I was very impressed with the quality of teaching and interaction that was presented at the Networking Day. I was impressed at the high regard that the CRC and ministries represented had for justice work and how it is integral in God’s mission. I felt encouraged that there is a large representation of believers from a mainline church that are as passionate about God’s justice for the “least of these” as I am.

“The presenters offered clear scriptural support for justice work and brought our attention to passages of the Bible that traditionally have not been associated with justice work. We were led through really appropriating Scripture to our calling and daily work. This was affirming.

“I learned a lot about Appreciative Inquiry and how it can be used to connect with our participants and address problematic issues. I used it in the week I returned back to work with great results.

“During the Networking Day, I also made some connections with other ministries who are involved in areas that I want our ministry to expand into. We look forward to connecting with the other ministries further as we continue to develop.

I learned a lot about Appreciative Inquiry and how it can be used to connect with our participants and address problematic issues. I used it in the week I returned back to work with great results.

“Thank you for the opportunity to attend the Networking Day!”

Ministry Networking Day 2017 was held on May 26, 2017.  For more information about Ministry Networking Day learning opportunities, click HERE or email dmc@crcna.org. 

Walking with Deacons: Rachel Brouwer, DMD

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fellowship-crc-st-thomas“Meet Brad, Phil, Bob, James and Margriet (at left) – the diaconal team from Fellowship CRC in St. Thomas, ON! This is a team that is passionate about understanding what it means to be a compassionate follower of Jesus to those who need assistance. They also recognize that those who need assistance aren’t always just the materially poor. So they’re growing where they’re planted and investigating ways to minister to and serve their neighbours in the St. Thomas suburb that is home to their church. We’re excited to see how God will use you in the upcoming year!”

This was written by Rachel Brouwer, a Diaconal Ministry Developer (DMD), after a visit with these deacons. 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. DMDs are available to connect with and visit every diaconate (team of deacons in a church) in every CRC across Canada. Rachel is one of the DMDs in Classis Chatham, and, through her experiences, she blesses the churches, like Fellowship CRC, that she serves.

RachelBrouwerRachel (at right) works as a Church Mobilization Coordinator for International Justice Mission Canada, a global organization that protects the poor from everyday violence in the developing world. She is passionate about helping the church respond to God’s call to seek justice on both a global and local scale and sees the role of deacons as being critical in leading this effort. Rachel is a life-long member of Talbot Street CRC in London, ON where she has served as an elder and is the current chair of deacons.

During her visit with the St. Thomas deacons, Rachel shared resources and promoted the Day of Encouragement. Through Rachel, the deacons became aware that DMC has resources and assistance to offer and were grateful to know this as they look forward to a year of serving the church and community.

There is a DMD ready and willing to help your church, whether you are looking for resources or you need advice and encouragement. Click here to find the DMD in your region.

Tips for Deacons: Starting Well in September

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September marks a new season and a new start for your church. Maybe it seems as though your diaconate is starting all over. Maybe you have new deacons and are making new plans together. Wherever you are at, September always brings transition of one kind or another.

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

The Top Ten Transitional Issues to Consider as Deacons:

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

  1. What deacons do: start with our FAQ section for some basic information
  2. How to start well: Check our website for devotions.
  3. Form a strong team: consider mentoring and reverse mentoring.
  4. Build Community: Click here for some suggestions.
  5. Gifts for Ministry: Examine what gifts you have around your “diaconal table.”
  6. Organizing your ministry plans: Develop a Diaconate workplan.
  7. Get help: schedule a Diaconal Ministry Developer (DMD) visit
  8. Develop your ministry: Guidelines for setting an offering schedule, benevolence, etc.
  9. Diaconal Ministry Shares: Why do we pay them?
  10. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Check out the FAQs or contact the Diaconal Ministries Canada office (Samantha).

DMC Walks Alongside New Deacons

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I have been a first time deacon for just over a year. Having my name drawn was scary but exciting. I did not know what I was in for, yet I was eager to see what God had in store for me.

Over the past year I have attended the Day of Encouragement (DOE) in Ancaster and a Deacon’s Dialogue for Classis Quinte. At the DOE I decided to go to the workshop facilitated by Bill Groot-Nibbelink (a Diaconal Ministry Developer) and I am so glad that I did!

The amount of information that I was exposed to by listening to other deacons’ experiences and the resources that Bill presented to us were instrumental in helping me feel more comfortable in being a deacon. The online resources available on the Diaconal Ministries Canada website are invaluable to all deacons new or experienced.

We also had Bill come and speak to Westside and First CRCs (in Kingston) about Guidelines for Benevolence and some other topics which were helpful.

I have appreciated the work that he and all the staff are doing at Diaconal Ministries Canada. Thank you! Thank you for the work that you do in equipping deacons in Canada!

-Written by Jennifer Feenstra-Shaw, Westside CRC in Kingston