This past September, the deacons and pastoral staff retreated to Dowling Park for a powerful time of inspiration and dedication to deacon ministry. We prayed for our city, read Eric Swanson’s book The Externally Focused Quest, and discussed the role that deacons have as servants in the city of Tallahassee. Our key verse came from 1 Peter 5:2 “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
Deacons are shepherds of the flock, both gathered and scattered. At the retreat, we discussed how deacons can better serve the scattered in neighborhoods. Since then, twenty deacons have embarked on a pilot project called “neighborhood catalysts.” The co-chairs are Darrell Thompson and Jeff Latimer. Their purpose is simply “to meet needs in Jesus’ name.” Each catalyst customized an approach for his neighborhood and the gifts of the deacon. They have fallen into four categories.
- “Boots on the ground.” Reaching out door-to-door to see if neighbors have needs such as mowing lawns, running errands, taking care of issues.
- Nextdoor.com. An online social network designed to connect neighbors together and communicate about issues in neighborhoods.
- Block parties. Inviting neighbors over for fellowship, food, and fun.
- Prayer groups. Hosting groups either in a home or a restaurant for prayer and fellowship.
I am so excited about the process thus far. These catalysts are just beginning, and their ministry has already touched lives. They have connected to several homebound members and had some great conversations about Jesus. These stories are emerging now.
This Sunday, we ordain five new deacons and welcome ten others who begin a new term as voting deacons. As you can tell, it’s a great time to serve as a deacon through First Baptist. I am so grateful to Fran Buhler and the nominating committee for their work of discernment to call out these servants. I have met personally with each one and have learned of their commitment to the Lord and His church. We are blessed to have these men serving for the next four years, and each one will be a part of the neighborhood catalyst project. On Sunday morning, you’ll have a chance to hear testimonies in both services from each of the five candidates for ordination. Join us Sunday evening for the ordination service at 6:00 p.m.
Please be praying for our deacons in 2014 that God will continue to bless their efforts. They are out in the neighborhoods like shepherds searching for the lost sheep. Join us as we bless their service Sunday.