In his First Letter to Timothy, Paul shares character requirements for church elders and deacons with his young protégé; there’s also a place in 1 Timothy where it says, “They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.” Though the exact nature of the test is left unspecified to allow for cultural variability, here at Redeemer our Diaconate candidates go through six months of training and evaluation.
Our Diaconate ministry is a vital expression of mercy and a place where congregants can get resources as they work through hardships and think about their own spiritual formation. It takes a body of committed and trained deacons and deaconesses to walk alongside the numerous congregants who come forward each year, seeking assistance for a variety of needs. The individuals who make up the Diaconate — though in most cases compassionate and merciful by nature — must undergo thorough and intentional equipping in order to prepare them to effectively serve with this important ministry of mercy.
This spring we are excited to have the following 16 new Diaconate candidates:
West Side/Lincoln Square:
They have completed the theological and practical skills training required and will be examined by our elders. Throughout the process we have seen these individuals grow in their knowledge of the Word as well as their understanding of how they can best be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need within our four churches. Their development and suitability for this ministry is evidenced in the comments we have received regarding their equipping.
I’ve learned that listening is a major component when ministering to people. I was reminded that you have to pray, love, and always ask God for guidance. Asking questions will also reveal a lot about a person and their situation. Putting a Band-Aid on doesn’t fix the problem; you have to go to the heart of the issue. As a deacon, you always have to be aware of your need for God.
I really liked the exercise of going through the scenarios and generating different types of entry gate questions we would ask our clients. It is so easy to attack the problem at hand instead of stepping back to find out what that person is feeling now in their experience of suffering.
[It is] illuminating to think about our attitudes. This is especially helpful as we try to serve our clients ... keeping our minds open and free from our biases, and centering [ourselves] in Christ and not ourselves.
God is responsible for heart change — there is nothing we can do by our own will to change our hearts.
These are the words of those who may soon be serving you and others in our family of churches! We invite you to rejoice with the Diaconate for God’s provision of individuals who are gifted in the area of mercy, and who are willing to commit their time and energy to becoming better equipped to serve in this capacity. We look forward to introducing you to these remarkable individuals next month as they stand for election and installation and begin putting their training into action!