Deacon Family Ministry Plan
I.
OBJECTIVES
  A.
It is the objective of this ministry to provide a clearly defined working relationship with the pastor and deacon in order that the pastoral ministries of this church be shared and carried out in an orderly and effective manner, a manner in which will best glorify our Lord Jesus Christ.
  B.
It is the objective of this ministry to properly and adequately minister to the total physical and spiritual needs of every resident member of our church on a continual basis (and their family).
  C.
It is the objective of this ministry to create an awareness on the part of the church to the total ministry of our church in order that it might bring us into closer fellowship one with another and into the greater unity for which our Lord prayed in John 17.
  D.
By fulfilling the above objectives, hopefully, this will enable our deacons to better fulfill their role as the ministering deacon which the New Testament defines.
II.
DESCRIPTION
  A.
In association with the pastor, each year each active deacon should be assigned a given number of church families to be his field of ministry.
  1.
The number of families may vary from assignment to assignment. However, as a general rule, a maximum of 20 families should be kept in mind. This will assist in preventing the assignment from becoming overly burdening to each deacon, thus taking them unnecessarily away from their own family and needs as well allow the deacon more quality time with each assigned member without a sense of feeling pressured or rushed in their duties. Joy of service should always be present and promoted.
  2.
These assignments should be flexible enough to allow for revision or reassignment during the course of ministry due to unforeseen situations that may arise (personal reasons, family illness, etc.).
  3.
A complete reassignment should be made at least every third year. This is to allow the deacon to serve all the people and for the people to be exposed to all of the deacons. Also, it will aid in preventing a clique from forming that might lead to disruption and/or division in our fellowship. (Remember, the major thrust of our ministry is to create a better fellowship with harmonious unity.)
  B.
Each active deacon should maintain a close working relationship with the pastor, keeping him well informed of the present spiritual and physical condition of his families. He should notify the pastor when there is a specific need for him to call on a family--illness, death, special event, etc.
  C.
Each active deacon should exhibit an atmosphere and an attitude of complete cooperation (not compromise) in the Christian care for all the church members by his willingness to pray for and visit the families he is to shepherd. No distinction in any way should be made among the families assigned based on any external merit--social status, economic status, personal status, longevity of membership, etc. Remember, you are not only representing our church but that it is His church and you are His witness to His church and Him.
  1.
He should pray for his assigned families on a day to day basis, with special emphasis during crises. Submit to the church secretary names that should be included for prayer in the church bulletin or newsletter.
  2.
He should visit each family at least 2 times during the year to discuss with them the work and ministry of the church, being prepared to answer any question they may have.
  D.
Each active deacon should keep himself abreast of the current spiritual and physical needs of each of his families.
  1.
Periodic visits in the home on a regular basis are recommended (each family per quarter as a general rule in addition to C.2. above).
  2.
The telephone and/or other electronic media is a helpful tool in making personal contact for short periodic checks but should not supersede the in-home visit.
  3.
It is vital the member have available means and avenues of contacting his or her assigned deacon.
  4.
Extreme caution should be stressed to and taken to protect the member's confidentiality in all matters conveyed as such (personal data, subject matter, etc.).
  E.
Each active deacon should, from being well informed, know of family crises on or before their occurrence so as to be available for service when needed. (See John 11 and corresponding study: Dealing with Death and Grief.) Listed below are some common examples and guidelines:
  1.
Deaths:
a.
Sometimes the death is expected as a result of a long-term illness. In this case, you should already be aware of the situation and already ministering with your visits and prayers before the death actually occurs.
b.
Other times, the death comes sudden, therefore, the family should be dependent and trustworthy, by your rapport already established, that they would contact you, either directly or indirectly. In any case, you should consider the importance of your presence and make and utilize every means necessary to assure them of your prayers and presence.
c.
Follow Ups:
The initial contact should be made with the family as immediately as your schedule will permit upon learning of the death. However, the lasting service and impact of your ministry will come from your often repeated contacts following the death. Each situation will be different and will call for different methods. However, the following is a suggested routine to follow. Modify as wisdom and individual circumstances dictate.
  • Initial visit following death as quickly as your schedule will permit.
  • Attend the funeral. If work or schedule does not permit, inform them beforehand and go immediately afterwards.
  • In the home following the funeral.
  • The next day after the funeral.
  • The 3rd day after the funeral.
  • Once a week thereafter for 1 month.
  • Regular visits, calls and contacts should resume following the above routine.
d.
Always remember that you are a representative of Christ and His church and should let all manner of conversation be such that it would be pleasing to Him. Through you, His Light shines into their darkness and pain. Also remember the other objective of your ministry is to keep the church informed at all times, including the pastor, concerning the current condition of the situation. Never hesitate to seek your pastor's counsel in any matter of uncertainty, procedural, spiritual or otherwise.
  2.
Sickness:
a.
In the hospital:
(1)   Each situation may be different but a visit should be made at least once a week.
(2)   Do not prolong your visit.
(3)   Avoid sharing your own or others' personal health history. Don't add misery upon misery.
(4)   Do not allow them to dwell excessively on their condition.
(5)   Be encouraging, cheerful. Remember, you are there to minister. Minister as Jesus would. Know and share His word but don't "preach" to them.
(6)   If surgery is the case, recommended visits are as follows. Again, modify as wisdom and individual circumstances dictate.
  • The day before surgery.
  • The day of surgery, or, the next day if day of surgery is impossible. Give prior notice.
  • Resume weekly visits until discharged.
  • Day of or following day of discharge as circumstances dictates.
Note: The visits after surgery should be as brief as possible so as not to tire the member-patient. Just by your presence, however brief, he or she will know of your concern and feel the Lord's and their church's support and comfort in this time.
b.
In the home:
Again, different situations call for different routines. Read the condition and make your visits accordingly. Pray for wisdom. However, a minimum of 1 visit per week is recommended until recovery is complete.
c.
See #d of Deaths above.
  3.
Shut-Ins:
a.
If you should happen to be assigned to a shut-in, some effort should be made to visit him or her at least once every 2 weeks. Doing so will keep the tie between that shut-in and his or her church that he or she so desperately needs to feel. Put yourself into his or her position and minister accordingly. Think how much just one visit every other week for, say, 15 minutes, would make you feel.
  • Never let them feel you are there as a chore or burden.
  • Avoid projecting a sense of being rushed or acting hurriedly. You do not have to announce at the outset your schedule. In most cases, it is wise not to tell them of your planned length of visit. Conclude your visit with sensitivity and resoluteness but not awkwardly or abruptly. Avoid the: "Well, gotta go" approach. The quality of your time spent is more important than the quantity.
b.
Scheduling of this visit should be done with care and wisdom in the beginning. If possible, a regular time should be observed although setting it as an appointment and expected precise time should be guarded against. After a rapport is developed, unannounced calls would likely be accepted. If no one is home, always leave a note, church literature, or calling card to indicate your call. If you've missed a regularly observed visit, do not succumb to the pitfall of procrastination. Go as soon as possible and avoid being over-apologetic. In most cases, a phone call prior to your late visit to check their availability will suffice for their understanding without having to give "excuse" when you arrive.
c.
It is important to be warm and cheerful. Always express a genuine Christ-like concern. Never tell him or her your troubles; he or she has enough of their own. Evoke from them topics of their interest for conversation by asking pertinent questions to their family life. Being observant to their surroundings is invaluable. Find ways to sincerely compliment them. Be confident and assuring in your talk with them.
d.
An exception to burdening them with your cares is the possibility they may be enlisted in the ministry of prayer for the church, its family, and other related needs. In the case of this member, enlisting them in prayer for you, your ministry or special need may be appropriate as well. Oftentimes, shut-ins feel no longer needed or significant in the life of their church or others. By stressing to them the importance of prayer and their prayers, they can feel needed and be spiritually strengthened themselves. Keep them updated as to the results of their prayers. Share what the Lord has done in those areas.
e.
If possible, share a brief conversational devotion with them--without it seeming formal. A point of the pastor's most recent sermon or topic of discussion in Bible study is a good beginning point in selection. Be sensitive to their comments. Likely, they will reveal an area and the appropriate timing this would touch them in their spirit. Brevity and to the point should be kept in mind.
f.
Keep them informed of the various ways they can access the activities and news of their church and contact information for its staff. If it is possible for them to attend any church activity and they do not have means to do so, see to it by any acceptable means permitted by the church's policies and provisions.
g.
If possible, always have prayer with them before leaving. Be sensitive to the need as well as the shut-in. With certain ones and at times, it is perfectly appropriate for them to lead in the prayer. Know your shut-in and as much as possible, their history and service with the church. Always remind them of the vital need of their prayers for their pastor as he leads.
  F.
Each active deacon should be ready to receive new assignments of new members during the year, especially as the church grows each week. The following is a list of policies that should be a matter of routine in your ministry (after assignment of new members):
  1.
Send a letter of personal congratulations on their recent decision, letting them know of your intended future visit. This will give them time to prepare for your arrival. The letter should include a personal introduction and that of the Family Ministry. (A form letter is available in the church office if desired.) In the beginning, a change of routine can often be upsetting to a household, especially personal visits of such a nature by someone new. Be sensitive to this, unimposing in your nature and loving in your introduction. Schedule a time when it is most convenient for them. Be prompt, never early for this first visit. After a time, they will come to anticipate your visits with more ease, openness and familiarity. Scheduling, then, should be as each family will adjust to your ministry to them. Some situations may require set times while others would welcome your "drop-in" visits.
  2.
Inform them in the above letter or by phone, and make a visit the following week or as soon as convenient and possible. Do not delay. Give them a Newcomer's Kit, which includes but not limited to:
  • Church Directory
  • Church Covenant
  • Church Doctrinal Statement
  • Church Policies
  • Church Contact Information
  • Church Constitution & Bylaws
  • Church Tithing/Contribution Envelopes
  • Family Info Card & Talent Search Survey
  • Campus/Building Maps Identifying Rooms/Offices Locations.
(and any other additional material necessary: Sunday School or Church Training material, copy of the church's budget, etc.)
  3.
During the first visit, inform them of the church programs and ministries available for his or her family:
  • Relevant Sunday School classes/teachers and campus/building maps identifying room locations.
  • Relevant Church Training classes/teachers and campus/building maps identifying room locations.
  • Worship services and times.
  • Other programs/activities/studies: missions, men's, women's, singles, college, teens, children, etc.
  4.
Be sure to leave your contact information for them to be able to reach you when needed.
  5.
Answer any and all questions concerning the church's history and future plans. Avoid gossip or tale-bearing. Project the real sense that they are as vital to their church as any other who belongs regardless of when joined. Unlike the secular world, the church does not practice seniority. All members are equal as taught in the Bible, each having need of the other. Refer to scripture if necessary. Past surveys have shown that in change of social environments, time for amalgamation and assimilation in the new takes on average about 2 years, if it occurs at all in today's culture some argue. No one can argue with the fact that we are living more and more in a fractured and divided world regardless of the eco-politico drive for globalization. This should not be so inside the church community. The more one becomes united with the fellowship the greater will be their faithfulness in all areas of their spiritual life, including regular attendance. This is one of the best counters to inactive membership.
  G.
Each deacon should encourage worship and attendance on a regular basis among all his families. Set the example! Special concern needs to be exhibited towards a family who only attends periodically, or, not at all. Remember, you likely will be assigned inactive members as well as active. Check for the cause; it may be something for which you could offer a solution. Much prayer should be offered for this family. Caution: Do not shun them, but don't badger them either! Keep them informed of all the church's activities and your concern and continued prayers for them. In most instances, just your continued contacts, example set, and prayers will lead them into or back into regular attendance.


 
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Additional copies of this brief guide may be obtained at: http://adam2.org/deacon/deacon.html. Even though you may and are encouraged to modify it for your situation, please remember it is copyrighted by Ken Livingston of Adam2.org. This copyright should remain intact for its free use and distribution.