Dear Beloved Community,
Tomorrow in worship, we install 24 active Deacons who have committed to serve God and our church in 2024. Five of these eight Deacons newly-called to serve are also newly-called to the ministry of Deacon: Cyrus Bush, Nikki Byers, Anna Harris, Linda Jones, and Susan Welch. Our Deacons serve as the church’s primary leadership body, tasked with the spiritual care and well-being of our congregation. We will lay hands on and commission them for the servant leadership that lies ahead, and in so doing, will remember our own calling to serve!
A few years ago in advance of our Deacon Ordination and Installation worship, I wrote about what the ministry of a Deacon looks like. These words still check out:
Bringing meals to the family walking through chemo. Making a call to check in after a beloved one has died. Visiting one who is in the hospital for surgery or illness. Dropping by for a conversation with our home-centered members. Mailing hand-written notes to young kids for no other reason than for delight and fun. Sending texts to check in after a hard week. Greeting newcomers and longtime members alike at the church house. Offering leadership on Sunday mornings in worship. Tending the spiritual health of our congregation. Prayerfully and carefully discerning her hope-filled future. Supporting the ministries and mission of our church with their time, their energies, their financial resources, their love. Encouraging the church’s staff. Showing up. Living with intention and authenticity. Following in the Way of Jesus. Loving well.
Each active member of our church has been assigned to one of these leaders, and, among their other assignments, they will be offering their care for you and your family in the year ahead. Perhaps you are one of many like me who can speak to how your Deacon has cared for you throughout all the changing seasons of each year. But in order for your Deacon to care for you, they need for you to share your life with them! So in the spirit of naming what the ministry of a Deacon looks like, might I name too what receiving that ministry entails? Let me encourage you:
Welcome their desire to get to know you. Tell them when you need their prayer or their companionship. Pray for their ministry among us. Ask for help (Lord knows we all need it from time to time!), or for your Deacon to hold a hard thing with you. Let them know if you’re undergoing a medical procedure, or going through a tough time. Share your joys with them, so they can make your joy more complete. Be renewed by their spiritual care, and let it inspire your own!
George Mason, longtime pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, once said to his congregation on Deacon Ordination Sunday:
This is not my church. This is not your church. This is Christ’s church. Yes, I am responsible. And yes, you are responsible. But listen again to that word – responsible. We do not take matters into our own hands; we offer our hand to Christ. We seek the mind of Christ because we are always pointing toward him in what we do. … Our duty as Christians – whether ordained pastors, ordained deacons, or any other laypersons ordained to the ministry of Christ in their baptisms – is to seek the will of Christ and do it. When we agree to be a leader in Christ’s church, we agree to decrease in order that he may increase. You deacons here today feel honored and lifted up by the privilege of being called upon for this service, but keep in mind that your service is always to point your finger to the Christ among us. And to the extent that you do that well, you will fulfill your calling.
For Deacons and for Christ’s church,
may our hands lay gently,
may their hands care tenderly,
may all our hands point carefully to Jesus, embracing all who Jesus loved!
Together in God’s work of Love,