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DIACONAL LEADERSHIP: Devotion #1

DIACONAL LEADERSHIP

DEVOTION #1

Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:35-10:7, 10:26-31

PPT - The Deacon as Icon of Christ: Kenosis , Theosis and Servant-Leadership  PowerPoint Presentation - ID:5593790

It could not be clearer. The disciples are called to follow Jesus. Jesus is their leader and teacher. He chose them, He called them, and He will equip them, too.

Rarely is leadership so clearly defined. Think of your church. Leadership is probably as varied and as colourful as the different roles Christ gave to the church. Not everyone is a pastor, elder, deacon or teacher; we cannot all be administrators or coordinators. Praise God that we are gifted differently and that we have opportunity to lead where we are gifted.

With so many leadership roles, however, how should they all work together? In Ephesians 4: 11- 12, Paul gives an answer. The goal of leadership in the church, says Paul, is “to equip [God’s] people for works of service.” “Diakonia” is the Greek word used for “works of service” – the word from which we derive “deacon.” Essentially, the leadership of the church works together to provide the resources and equipping for all of the people in the church to be able to serve like deacons in the community.

So what does it look like for deacons and other leaders to equip the church for service? How do you do that? The simple answer is to follow Jesus, just like His disciples.

Model: In Matthew 9:35-36, and elsewhere, Jesus exemplifies what the disciples will be sent out to do. Not only does He meet needs and bring the good news of the Kingdom, Jesus also looks with compassion on the crowds around Him. What a beautiful model of diakonia.

In the church and community, serving looks differently for each person. Peter urges Christ-followers to use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10). Those gifts might be hospitality, encouragement, compassion, prayer or others.

Deacons, as you discern gifts within the diaconate, and assume different roles to match those gifts, you will be “faithful stewards of God’s grace” for your congregation. Serve your community with the compassion of Christ, and others will follow.

Encourage: Jesus did not just model ministry and mentor leadership, He also equipped His disciples through encouragement. He told them not to be afraid; He reminded them of their value.

So, how do you, as deacons, encourage people in the church to use their gifts to serve others?

The Bishop’s charge to the deacon in the ordination service says:

Bishop   Deacons are called to work with the Bishop and the priests with whom they serve as heralds of Christ’s kingdom. They are to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, as agents of God’s purposes of love. They are to serve the community in which they are set, bringing to the Church the needs and hopes of all the people. They are to work with their fellow members in searching out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely and those who are oppressed and powerless, reaching into the forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible.

All of these are only accomplished through prayer, and the equipping of the Holy Spirit, in humility and with dependence. The Holy Spirit gives encouragement (Acts 9:31), so that you may encourage others. May your goal be like Paul’s, that the church “be encouraged in heart and united in love.” (Col. 2:2a)

Deacons, you have an important leadership role in the church! As you are examples and mentors of service, and encourage your congregation to serve, you will bless your community and be blessed in return. Commit this to God and resolve to lead as God has called you.

Find original here:  with thanks to Diaconal Ministries Canada.  This article has been slightly edited for deacons in the Church of England.

Click to access Devotion-Set-2.pdf

(image from slide show by Deacon William T Ditewig https://slideplayer.com/slide/4967751/)

 

 

DEVOTIONS FOR DEACONS: partnership

Diaconal Ministries Canada has an excellent website with many good resources for their deacons.  Although it’s not an Anglican church, they have a very well-worked-out understanding of diaconal ministry under 4 headings:  compassion, justice, stewardship and community ministry.

The following comes from their series of 12 devotions for deacons,  concerning the nuts and bolts of community ministry.  This devotion focuses on partnership.

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:1-11

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:1-11
 

In Acts 16, Paul is on a journey visiting churches he has established and firing people up for the gospel. He has probably mapped out a route already and set his course –until the Spirit of the Lord tells him differently, that is. Paul wants to go to Asia. The Spirit says no. Paul wants to go to Bithynia. The Spirit says no again. And then Paul receives a vision, sending him to the outer reaches of where the Jews had scattered: a Roman colony with no temple, no place of worship or gathering. Yet Paul obeys.

 

Without a temple in which to preach, Paul goes down to the river to speak to the Gentile women there. This isn’t necessarily a promising start, by the standards of the day. But, because he listens to the Spirit, Paul’s conversation with the women by the river eventually leads to a church plant – the Philippian church, a church that becomes Paul’s “partner in the gospel” (Phil. 1:5).

 

Partnerships are important for ministry. At its heart, ministry is relational. Paul understood this and depended on the blessings of partnership to help and encourage him.

Image result for partnership

Partnerships are Spirit-given: before arriving in Philippi and establishing the church, Paul is redirected by the Spirit away from other places of ministry. He is given a vision that will lead him to Philippi. The Spirit guides Paul into this important partnership.

 

Partnerships begin with commonality: partnerships work well when there is a fundamental understanding of what is shared. For Paul and the church in Philippi, they “share in God’s grace” (vs. 7). It is a basic place to start. Sin is a great equalizer; everyone is equally in need of grace and each person is equally made in God’s image.

 

Partnerships focus on strengths: in strong partnerships, each partner has something important to contribute. Paul knows that the church in Philippi supports him through prayer (vs. 19), and will also “stand firm” (vs. 27) for the gospel. Paul realizes that his encouragement and teaching are also important to the church (vs. 24). Together, as partners, Paul and the church encourage and pray for each other and work from their strengths to advance the gospel together.

 

Partnerships give joy: encouragement is critical to ministry and to partnership. Paul is writing the letter to the Philippians from prison, and, as he prays for the church in Philippi and is being prayed for, God gives him joy.  Joy transcends experience and energizes mission.

 

Deacons, you need partners, like Paul, who will serve with you in your church and community. By the grace of God, however, you will form many partnerships as you live out God’s call on your life. Your partners may be members of your church who are equipped and called to serve with you. Your partners may also be your neighbours whom you serve and through whom you receive blessing. There are others such as community agencies and churches.

 

Seek out the Spirit’s leading as you seek out partnerships. Pray! Allow God’s Spirit to humble you and work through you. Open your heart as you partner and serve alongside those to whom the Spirit will lead you. Look for, and be blessed by each others’ strengths. Never lose sight of the fact that we are all in need of grace: from the deacon sitting next to you to the members of your congregation, to your neighbour in need who might just bless you in surprising ways.

 

And, last of all, expect joy.

(image from nypartnerships.org.uk)