March 2017 Deacon Training
DEACON TRAINING FOR 03-07-17
Draft Copy as of 03-07-17, 3:15 pm
Every ministry must be MEANINGFUL and MANAGEABLE.
If it is meaningful but not manageable, you won’t get it done.
If it is manageable but not meaningful, they won’t want it done.
Three phrases help to keep it simple for me:
BE AWARE for REGULAR PRAYER and CRISIS CARE.
Q: What is the most frequent command in the New Testament? “Love one another.”
Q: What is the next most frequent command? “Greet one another.” A simple greeting can affirm a person’s presence and value. If you make it your goal to greet a certain list of people each Sunday, it doesn’t take long to know whether they are present or absent.
Be aware of the presence of your sheep in church. Look for them every Sunday. Be especially aware of a change in their attendance pattern. VITAL SIGNS ARE “clinical measurements, specifically pulse rate, temperature, respiration rate, and blood pressure, that indicate the state of a patient's essential body functions.”Church attendance is to spiritual life what vital signs are to physical life.
What do you do if someone’s pattern changes? Do NOT email them to ask “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?” You probably shouldn’t call them with that message, either. What you could do is email or call and say, “I missed you Sunday. Is everything OK? Is there anything I can do for you or be praying for you?” Then, you are not fussing at them for their absence; you are offering yourself to them. That is winsome!
Be aware of annual milestones as well. Include happy events like birthdays and anniversaries, and sad events like the loss of a loved one. Consider sending a card or email or making a quick phone call on or before those days.
Strike up a conversation every now and then. The best time is just before or after church, but it can also be a casual phone call. Simple questions like, “How are you?” “How is your family?” “What’s new in your home/life?” It won’t take long for you to have in mind some things that have recently mentioned and you will be able to follow up with questions like, “How did it go for Junior with that testing week?” Or, “How is Sally adjusting to college life?” Or, “What happened with that job situation you were concerned about?” Or, whatever they have mentioned lately.
Imagine establishing a monthly prayer list where you rotate through your list of sheep each month.
Imagine sending each of your sheep an email at the beginning of their week saying:
Dear __________, I will be praying especially for you and your household this week. If there are any unusual opportunities, challenges, blessings, or burdens that I should keep in mind as I pray, please email me to let me know. Your Deacon, __________ Phone _______________ Email ______________
Imagine going through your list of sheep each morning with an opening:
“God bless John/the Smith family. Help them with [this or that situation]. Encourage their hearts as they deal with [this or that situation]. Thank you for the blessing of [this or that situation] in their life.”
Do NOT pray the same words for everyone. Jesus issues stark warnings about vain repetition. Use the same pattern, perhaps, but not the same words. Use your imagination when praying. And imagine their faces, their emotions, their situations.
The Bible says to “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”
Crisis Care is not likely to be a weekly need, therefore it is likely to be manageable.
Crisis care may involve just one phone call about a family crisis, or just one visit or phone call to the hospital. It may be a longer term issue.
When you know of a long-term crisis care need – especially one that requires repeated contacts - take out your calendar and make a note of the “To Do” items on the relevant days. Then, you won’t be struggling to remember what you meant to do for whom – you will just have to check your calendar on a regular basis. It takes just a little bit of organizational time and effort and habit, but more than anything, it takes a caring heart.
A crisis can be a good or bad event. It can be a birth, graduation from high school or college, departure of a child to college, a wedding or serious illness or death in the family. When those crisis times come, just a call or email or card can mean a lot. Even better is an offer of tangible help.
When a crisis need comes to your attention, feel free to call the church office to find out more, or to inform the office of what you know. A call to Janet will give you all the info we have and will get the info you have to all who need it.
EX: Mr. B is very ill. Call Mrs. B to assure her of your thoughts and prayers. Offer to help in ways that you can. (A meal? A ride to the hospital? Care of a child or a pet? Whatever the need that you can meet. Use your imagination.)
EX: Mrs. C lost her husband. Offer to bring a meal or host a family member coming in for the funeral. THEN call a week after the funeral to say you are thinking of her and praying for her. THEN a month later. THEN at each milestone for a year: Birthday, Anniversary, Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, just before Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year.
EX: The Jones’ son is graduating from high school. Find him and congratulate him. Maybe send him a card (with a $20 bill in it?). Ask his parents if anyone is coming to town for graduation. Offer to bring over a meal, or to house a guest (if you have the room).
EX: The Smiths’ daughter is leaving for college. That can be a blend of sadness or joy! Call after the departure and ask how she is adjusting or how they are adjusting. Offer to buy Mom (or Dad, depending on their gender and yours) a cup of coffee to talk about the adjustment.
Remember as you provide loving shepherd care:
- Do what meets their needs, not yours. Shepherding ministry is not about you feeling good about yourself or about you fulfilling an assignment. It is about meeting the needs of people God loves and God’s people are supposed to love.
- Knock but don’t barge in. Make yourself available but not overwhelming. Do inquire; don’t intrude. Just knowing someone cares and is available is often enough to give more strength and encouragement.
- Don’t try to meet every need. The first line of need meeting is family. The second is church family. Promise less than you can deliver. Follow up and fulfill your promise.
- Work in pairs when possible. It divides the load and multiplies the love. When looking for a ministry partner, you may look first to your spouse (if you are married and they are available). Next, look to the Shepherd who is connected to you. Then, look to people in the church family other than a current Deacon. Deacons (and all committee members) should be as much recruiter as doer, and should recruit outside their board/committee. Otherwise, current board/committee members will get burned out, and care will suffer.
- Make it a team effort. Care will be a team effort involving the Deacons, 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
- Shepherds, Parish Nurses, and Pastors. Pastors are sometimes viewed as the expert people helpers and tacit blessing spreaders. There will be some situations where you need the experience and expertise of a pastor. But the truth is, a Pastor is a player-coach – dispensing help and encouragement and comfort, but also equipping and encouraging others to do so. The Bible commands us to “Love one another”, not “Call the Pastor”! Ephesians 4:11–16 (NIV) says: