My son has a spy pen that does the work of writing things down but the words are not visible unless illuminated by a special light. I think that can be the case in church life too, with the work of diakonia in our churches taken for granted or going somewhat unnoticed. For certain, faith communities have made and are making significant contributions to the well being of their communities. But do you ever wondering if others see what good things you are doing? Is all your work done in the background? Do deacons receive a thank-you for the connection and service they make?
Three times a year, deacons, representative from Classis Alberta North diaconates and partner ministries meet for learning, mutual encouragement and sharing. We hear about each other’s joys, challenges and current events. We often have a guest presenter share about a ministry for churches and deacons to learn more about and be able to consider for supporting or accessing resources. There are many common ministries happening across the Classis and we have even witnessed the formation of new ministries in diaconates that have heard and learned from others.
An example of this has been community gardens. A couple of churches had lead the way and reported to the group how excited they were about them and about the overwhelming support they received from the community around them. A couple of churches that then started up new community garden initiatives said they were so much in demand the first year that they had to double the capacity the next year. Talk about planting seeds!
We always have a time of sharing and caring to have the deacons talk about what is happing in their church and I am always blown away by the stories and responses. We have heard a diverse array of ministry with everything from senior tea’s or dessert nights, to children’s VBS or summer sport camps (with a lot in between). Last time, instead of making a mental note of it, I decided to see if I could catalogue it and see what it looked like on paper… in no particular order… ministries and activities supported by CAN diaconates…
Wow, what a list and with not all diaconates represented I know there is more that I have not captured here. Now, I want to say outright that this is not to pat ourselves on the back and display what we are doing to gain the praise of others. Really, this is to show the faithful service of deacons in our communities and how they can encourage and support congregations to make a difference in others lives to the honor and Glory of God.
Have you ever heard of the Halo Effect? It has long been known in Canada that churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples have social, spiritual, and communal value. But what if we could measure the value of what they contribute to the common good in their neighborhoods and communities? The Halo Project began to examine and measure how religious congregations fare as economic catalysts and they have found that for every dollar in a religious congregation's annual budget, a city gets an estimated $4.77 worth of common good services. (www.haloproject.ca)
Check out some of the links to see tangible research to support what our churches our doing. Not that we need to see stats, we know by our hearts and the work of the Holy Spirit, that God is working in the lives people everywhere!
Also check out this local CBC interview for an explanation of the project…
I am so encouraged to know that our brothers and sisters are living out the call to be the hands and feet of Jesus and that it is making a difference in the Kindom of God. God bless and keep on serving and giving. - Jesse Edgington - NADC Consultant