As Jay mentioned earlier, one problem many churches face is helping their deacons to be effective. Often through poor communication and unrealistic expectations things fall through the cracks. It vital to the health of the church that we take the necessary steps to help our deacons be effective:
1 – Realize this is volunteer help and people are busy. So for that reason and for accountability try to have 2 deacons for each area of service/ministry
2 – Have each deacon have a corresponding elder/minister as a contact point for the elders. This is for accountability and for communication.
3 – Make sure all deacons have a specific job description that is as measurable as possible. It doesn’t help if you ask someone to do something and there is no way to tell if it actually got done.
4 – Have regular followup with deacons to encourage them and help them plan out their vision for their ministry. If not most just go into “default mode” and nothing gets done.
5 – Make sure not to undermine your deacons by doing things in their area without their knowledge. If something is being done to the building, make sure the “building and grounds” deacon knows about it and isn’t caught by surprise on Sunday, etc.
6 – Have regular meetings with all deacons with a set agenda for them to talk about what is coming up in their area. Have time for prayer and make sure this is very structured. This is aided by points 2 & 4 above to make sure they are all on track in advance of the meeting. Otherwise the ones who do the least will end up feeling bad and talking the most.
7 – Make sure you are actively recruiting new members into specific areas of service and that the appropriate deacons are getting the names and contact info for people who want to help in their area.
8 – As ministries grow, make sure you help your deacons transition from the one who does everything in the ministry to someone who coordinates and facilitates their volunteer help from within the congregation. This gets more people involved and results in less deacon burnout.
9 – Make sure you realize changes and needs in the congregation to proactively address those with deacons/ministries in advance so we don’t drop the ball with anyone. One example. With the failing economy we added more deacons to benevolence to specifically address helping people budget and find jobs in addition to the financial assistance piece we already had.
10 – Make sure your deacons get positive feedback when things are going well. Ministers and elders often get in emergency mode and take for granted those people and areas that are actually accomplishing their purposes. If you want someone to keep doing a good job, make sure you show your appreciation.