“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, The Message Paraphrase
Ok, we want to talk about Deacon Ministry, right? Here’s the thing, our Deacon Board has struggled with a perpetual identity crisis for well over 40 years. Realistically, the Board has been struggling much longer but we probably didn’t become aware of the identity crisis until our membership numbers began to plummet in the 1960s.
We don’t have to talk about all of the various iterations of the Deacon job descriptions over the decades, at least not right now. Why? Because, ultimately, I don’t think they’re the problem. Rather, they’re symptoms of the problem.
The actual problem is kind of a big deal and it’s going to take some time for us to learn to walk again.
The God we serve is an expert in all things rehabilitation.
Identifying the actual problem.
Let’s start with a few basics. While the list below isn’t even close to a comprehensive understanding to core beliefs, this particular list is relevant to the topic at hand….rebooting Deacon Ministry:
If we continue to believe…
- Disciples of Jesus are those that have committed to follow Jesus in every aspect of their lives.
- Discipleship = “Wherever, Christ leads, we’ll go….”
- We are a Priesthood of ALL believers.
- The “new” commandment Jesus presents in John 13 is a legitimate expectation for us.
- The heart of God is most clearly revealed in active care of those living in social, physical, and/or emotional isolation.
…then, NOW is the time for each of us to:
- Recommit our full lives to Christ.
- Remember that the Holy Spirit brings the walking party together and that same mysterious Spirit provides the “marching orders”.
- Trust the Holy Spirit will help us make the road by walking.
- Assume The Holy Spirit of the Gospels, Book of Acts, and letters that follow, is The same Spirit that consistently brings diversity into the midst of the walking party. The Spirit is the unifier but also the holy shaker-upper. The working of The Spirit is always purposeful and often perceived by the faithful as reckless. We should assume the Spirit is intentionally shaking things up, bringing us back to purpose, and working to expand our hearts and minds to the vastness of God AND relentless love of God.
- Open our eyes so that we might see the unique giftedness of each member of the walking party.
- Re-affirm the Priesthood of all believers.
- Shift our thinking about leadership out of hierarchy and into mutual mentorship.
Tomorrow, in Part #2, we’ll deep dive, The priesthood of all believers isn’t the same thing as democracy.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Sterling W. Severns, Pastor