Are you called to be a Deacon?
Being a Methodist Deacon is a vocation. It is a calling to a lifetime commitment to an order of ministry, serving God in the church and in the world, and to a Religious Order, sharing a Rule of Life and committing to support one another through the discipline of religious life. It is both demanding and challenging, and also hugely exciting and rewarding. Could this be the path that God wants you to take?
What is a Deacon?
There are two orders of ministry with different emphases in the Methodist Church - Presbyters and Deacons. The core emphasis of a Deacon’s ministry is ‘witness through service’. These two strands are highlighted in the ordination service and are embodied through acts of pastoral care, a passion for mercy and justice, being a prophetic voice and a messenger of the Gospel. This includes acts of evangelism, apologetics, teaching, leading of worship and the encouraging and equipping of the whole Church’s diaconal ministry. Methodist Deacons are ordained to the diaconate in the universal Church of which the Methodist church is a part and become full members of the Methodist Diaconal Order at the point of ordination
As a Deacon, you would be a ‘focus’ for the servant ministry of Christ. Through their ministry, Deacons reveal the incarnate servant Jesus. Taking as their model Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, they help people to understand the nature of God's love and healing through acts of loving kindness. They encourage people to realise that by serving others in God’s name they also encounter, and are served by, God.
Deacons are called to:
- assist God’s people in worship and prayer;
- hold before them the needs and concerns of the world;
- minister Christ’s love and compassion;
- visit and support the sick and the suffering;
- seek out the lost and the lonely;
- help those they serve to offer their lives to God
(Ordination Service for Deacons)
Deacons make visible God’s calling to the Church to be a servant in the world. Deacons challenge the Church to respond to this calling through their own servant ministry acting as a link between the world and the church, interpreting to the Church the needs and aspirations of the world. Deacons seek to connect faith with life in today's world in such a way that people are encouraged to articulate their experience, deal with the challenges they encounter and are helped to make sense of their faith in everyday life. Deacons are able to work at grassroots, alongside people within and beyond the Church community and to offer a prophetic voice. They draw attention to and help interpret God's activity in the world and daily life.
Deacons offer Methodism and the wider Church the discipline, spirituality and commitment to community that is part of working out their personal vocation in the context of belonging to a Religious Order.
Some Deacons have a specific focus at various points in their ministry. For example, they may be involved in various forms of chaplaincy or may become pioneer ministers. This will depend on their gifts and graces and the Church’s missional needs.
Deacon Lorraine Brown - Rural Development Enabler
- In company with others
Ministers lead God’s people in mission, in collaboration with others. Led by God’s Spirit, they help today’s church catch a vision of what the church of the future should be like.
Your own special gifts and skills are vital, though they are exercised in the context of the wider Connexion. When ministers are stationed they are sent to particular situations to bring the goals, insights and resources of the wider church to bear on them, as well as to exercise their particular gifts and skills.
Ministers work within the Church’s structures and discipline and are representatives of the whole Connexion. Presbyters and Deacons are accountable for the ways in which they exercise ministry. They are expected to behave ‘with integrity, competence and according to the best standards of practice’ towards those to whom they minister What is a Presbyter? (Conference Report 2002, 12). A draft ministerial Code of Conduct has been circulated by Conference for wider consultation (by the end of November 2018).
- Some books about ministry
Richard Burridge (2017) Four Ministries, One Jesus: exploring your vocation with the four gospels, London: SPCK
Rosalind Brown (2005) Being a Deacon Today: exploring a distinctive ministry in the church and in the world, Norwich, Canterbury Press
David Clark (2008) The Diaconal Church: breaking the mould of Christendom, Peterborough: Epworth
Jim Cotter (1992) Yes…Minister? Sheffield: Cairns
Steven Croft (2008) Ministry in Three Dimensions, London: Darton Longman & Todd
Dorothy Graham (2002) Saved to Serve: The story of the Wesley Deaconess Order, 1890–1978, Peterborough, Methodist Publishing House
Philip Luscombe and Esther Shreeve (2002) What is a Minister? Peterborough: Epworth Press
Katy Magdalene Price (2015) I think it’s God calling, Abingdon: Bible Reading Fellowship
Sam Wells (2017) Incarnational Ministry: Being with the church, London: Canterbury Press