Category: Elders (Page 1 of 2)

Leading Lavishly

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” ~1 John 3:1

Our God does not measure his love out to us. He doesn’t weigh it on scales or scoop it out with a spoon. He doesn’t give just enough of his love to get us by or just as much of his love as we might deserve. He floods us with his love. We have more of his love than we could ever ask for or imagine. That’s the one thing you can ask God to do that’s impossible: God, will you love me more? Nope. Can’t. Impossible. He lavishes us with his love. We are his children. That is what we are.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” ~Ephesians 1:7-8

Our Father lavishes us with his grace. We sing about it. God’s amazing grace. Matchless grace. God’s grace that reaches even me! God’s forgiveness is over the top. It’s not that you’re forgiven of some of your sins or most of your sins or all the little sins or every sin except that one sin. It’s not that you’re forgiven is you do this one thing or keep this set of rules or follow this particular creed. In Jesus Christ, every single one of your sins — all of ’em; name em! — are all gone forever! God’s forgiveness is total and complete! Your sins are removed from you as far as the east is from the west! They are all hurled to the bottom of the sea, never to be dredged up again! God doesn’t put your sins up on the top shelf in the corner of a dark closet just so he can pull them out again and hold them against you at the worst possible time. God’s grace is lavish and complete.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~John 10:10

This is not an incidental or isolated remark from our Lord. This comes right between “I am the gate” and “I am the good shepherd.” Jesus is our doorway to salvation and the shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. And in the middle is the key contrast between his purpose and mission and that of the thieves and robbers: They come to take, Jesus comes to give. They seek destruction, Jesus seeks abundance.

From the fullness of his grace we have all  received one blessing after another. God gives the Spirit without limit. The water he gives will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life. Rivers of living water for all to drink. You will bear much fruit and your joy will be made complete. You will  do greater works than me. The Gospels are full of Jesus’ lavish life-giving abundance. If we wrote them all down, all the books in the world wouldn’t hold them!

The apostle Peter says we shepherd like our Chief Shepherd. We treat those in our flocks the same way Jesus does. With lavish love. With limitless grace. With inexhaustible forgiveness. With unmerited favor. We give everybody in our church life to the full.



Ordained by God and His Church

By God’s grace, we just concluded a smooth, drama-free, Holy Spirit led, and healthy shepherd selection process here at the GCR Church. We have ordained four new elders — Gary Glasscock, Richard Hatchett, Michael Humphries, and Marc McQueen — to join the current group of seven, to give us a terrific team of godly men committed to shepherding this church in the name and manner of our Lord Jesus. The process culminated Sunday in an ordination service that was, by all accounts, a beautiful and inspirational moment for our whole congregation.

We wanted the service to feel like the whole church was participating in ordaining these four new shepherds and affirming and blessing the whole group of eleven. We wanted the charges and pledges to go both ways – the elders would make promises to the church and the congregation would make promises to the elders. Several shepherds and ministers and support staff made wonderful suggestions along the way and we wound up with what I would consider a model for an ordination ceremony.

First, we gathered around our elders and and prayed thanksgiving and blessing over them. We asked all eleven of our shepherds and their wives to step out into the aisles where we could get to them, and we got out of our seats, put our hands on them and our arms around them, and talked to the Lord about them. We thanked God for the dedication of these men and their wives to seeking the Lord and following Christ and serving his Church. We expressed our love for them to the Father. And we lifted each of them up – these men, their wives, their families, their ministries, their service to our congregation – to the Lord in trust and faith.

Next, we brought all eleven couples to the stage and four of our young children from the congregation presented the new elders with beautiful shepherds’ staffs as symbols of godly leadership. We want these staffs to serve as reminders that they are called to lead this church with the same priorities our God lays out in Ezekiel 34: lead us to good pastures, where there is peace and rest; keep the big sheep from running over the little sheep; keep all of us from butting heads with each other; search for the lost and bring back the strays; bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.





And then we charged our elders with the specifics. I started the charge, but we had four other members of the church stand up in the middle of the congregation to also address the shepherds with our expectations. It went like this:

Allan: On behalf of the church family here at Golf Course Road, in the presence of our God, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, believing that we have not acted in haste but have prayerfully depended on our God, we charge you men to be faithful shepherds of our flock.

Then Juan Alcaraz and his family stood up from their seats on the left side of the worship center: Believing that the Spirit of God has called you to this ministry and that you are a gift of his grace to our congregation, we charge you to accept this calling with humility and compassion. We charge you to devote yourselves to prayer, to commit yourselves to the ministry of God’s Word, and to consecrate yourselves to the earnest shepherding of our church.

Elders: By God’s grace, we will.

Then our whole youth group stood up on the right side of the church as Mallory West, one of our high school freshmen, read the next lines: As you shepherd us, will you submit to the Lordship of Jesus and to his example by taking the very nature of a servant and considering the needs of others more important than your own?

Elders: By God’s grace, we will submit to the Lordship of Christ, to his church here at GCR, and to one another. We will sacrificially serve the church with humility and compassion in the name and manner of Jesus.

Then Corene Morton stood up in the middle of the church: Will you diligently seek the Lord in ways that we can follow, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ?

Elders: By God’s grace, we will train ourselves for godliness; we will pursue the way of righteousness, faithfulness, gentleness, and love.

Then Ken and Carolyn Arnold stood up from their seats: And will you guard this church as the blood-purchased possession of Christ?

Elders: By God’s grace, we will teach and admonish in humility, encourage and support in love, and faithfully lead and protect our brothers and sisters at GCR as our Lord’s most prized possession.

At this point, I asked the entire church to stand and I asked them two questions, to which they responded in unison: Do you acknowledge and publicly affirm these godly men as your shepherds and receive them as your elders as gifts of God’s Holy Spirit to this church?

Church: We acknowledge these men as elders ordained by God and we receive them as our shepherds and as gifts of God’s Holy Spirit to this church.

Allan: Will you love and pray for these men, will you work together with them in humility and unity and good cheer, will you give them all due honor and support in the leadership to which our God has called them?

Church: By God’s grace, we will obey and submit to these men, so that their work will be a joy and not a burden.

Allan: Let all in the church who agree, affirm so by saying, “Amen!”

And they did. Then Joe Coffman, one of our former long-serving elders, led us in a beautiful congregational prayer of thanksgiving and blessing over the whole thing.






It wasn’t just four guys on the stage and a prayer. It was our whole church, from the youngest among us to the oldest, in the aisles, on the stage, holding microphones, asking and answering questions, making eye contact, making promises, giving and receiving hugs, saying prayers and being prayed over.

We do not “install” elders; that’s what you do with dishwashers. We ordain them. We affirm them. We charge them and bless them and use holy words to lift them up to the Father. It’s relational. It’s between a church and its spiritual leaders in the presence of God. It’s not an “installation.” It’s a sacred moment in the ongoing story of what the Lord is doing in and through his people in this place. Treating it as such will inspire your church. And it’ll bless your shepherds. And it will honor our God who brings us together in Christ Jesus.



Genuine Authority

This Sunday, we are ordaining four new elders here at GCR Church. These four, plus the seven current shepherds, will be charged by the congregation to shepherd us in the name and manner of Jesus. And the church family will pledge to obey and submit to their leadership so their work will be a joy, not a burden.

Obey and submit?

Well, yeah, that’s what it says in Hebrews 13:17.

Obey and submit? Do we really want to use those words anymore? It makes it sound like the elders are ruling us with some kind of authority. What kind of authority do the elders have over us?

The only kind of authority that matters in God’s Church. The only kind of authority that exists in the Kingdom of God. The genuine authority of sacrifice and service. The authority of a life lived not to be served, but to serve.

In the spirit of the upcoming ordination service at GCR; to all church elders past, present, and future; and for all churches that occasionally select elders, I submit this passage from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together (1938):

Jesus made authority in the fellowship dependent upon brotherly service. Genuine spiritual authority is to be found only where the ministry of hearing, helping, bearing, and proclaiming is carried out. The desire we so often hear expressed today for “authoritative personalities” springs frequently from a spiritually sick need for the admiration of men, for the establishment of visible human authority, because the genuine authority of service appears to be so unimpressive.

The bishop is the simple, faithful man, sound in faith and life, who rightly discharges his duties to the church. His authority lies in the exercise of his ministry. In the man himself, there is nothing to admire.

Genuine authority recognizes that it can exist only in the service of Him who alone has authority. Genuine authority knows that it is bound in the strictest sense by the saying of Jesus: “You have only one Master and you are all brothers” (Matthew 23:8). The Church does not need brilliant personalities, but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren. Not in the former, but in the latter, is the lack. The Church will place its confidence only in the simple servant of the Word of Jesus Christ because it knows that then it will be guided, not according to human wisdom and human conceit, but by the Word of the Good Shepherd.

Genuine authority is determined by the faithfulness with which a man serves Jesus Christ, never by the extraordinary talents which he possesses. Pastoral authority can be attained only by the servant of Jesus who seeks no power of his own, who himself is a brother among brothers, submitted to the authority of the Word.”



Christian Accountability

We’ve presented the names of four new elders as selected by our congregation – Gary Glasscock, Richard Hatchett, Michael Humphries, and Marc McQueen – to our church family here at GCR and we’ve entered into a time we’re calling Biblical Accountability. Or Christian Accountability. It’s not “Scriptural Objections.” We’re not using that old traditional Church of Christ language. That term never allowed for an objection to a man who was stubborn, closed-minded, or mean-spirited because it’s hard to come up with book-chapter-verse on those things – if you can’t cite the passage, you can’t make an objection. And the word “objection” is just a negative word. It formed us as a people in negative ways. It caused us to look first and foremost for reasons to disqualify a servant-leader who had been selected by the congregation, instead of reasons to support him.

We like Biblical Accountability. Or Christian Accountability. It’s not just these four men who are accountable to Scripture and to our calling as followers of Jesus, it’s the entire church body. We are all accountable in this together.

Now is the time to encourage and support these men and their families, to lift them up to our Father in prayer, and to thank them for answering the church’s call to serve. Now is the time to honor these new elders and to show them respect. Now is the time to determine to “make their work a joy, not a burden.”

If for any reason you cannot support one of these men or submit to his spiritual leadership, now is the time to go to that brother in Christ and make things right. Because this is what Christians do. In a posture of humility and grace, in a spirit of fellowship and love, knowing that forgiveness is Christ’s great work and unity is our Lord’s fervent prayer, reach out to that brother in a faithful effort to exercise the ministry of reconciliation we have all been given by God’s Spirit. Because these are our values, our beliefs; because this is what the Bible teaches.

If whatever is between you cannot be resolved, then you are encouraged to contact the current shepherds to seek resolution according to Gospel principles and biblical teaching.

I believe these four men are gifts to our church by God’s Holy Spirit. I believe this period of Biblical Accountability is a good shift for us and a healthier way to confirm the Spirit’s anointing within our congregation. And I praise God for this exciting and hopeful season at GCR.


We are also thrilled to announce that we have brought on a second youth minister here at GCR! Jadyn Martinez comes to us from Lubbock Christian University and will be working side-by-side with J.E. Bundy to minister to and with our church’s teenagers and their families. Oh, my word, Jadyn brings a ton of energy to this gig. She’s a fireball of enthusiasm and excitement for life and she has a heart called by the Lord to minister to these young people. She’s the daughter and granddaughter of a great family of CofC ministers, she’s living a wonderful story of love and grace, and she’s just going to be terrific! Her husband, Isaiah, is a tremendous source of encouragement and support for Jadyn. And their nearly-two-year-old daughter, Shiloh, is adorable and will soon become our church staff mascot. It’ll take like twelve minutes.

Jadyn will be moving to Midland, hopefully, in the next three weeks and should start full-time with us by June 5. You’ll know when she gets here. She’s fun and loud and in your face. We can’t wait!


There’s nothing better in all of sports than a Game Seven in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nothing provides more continuous edge-of-your-seat intensity and tension. Nothing is faster, harder-hitting, or more desperate. Nothing more unpredictable. Every shot, every shift, every penalty, every odd-man rush and near-side faceoff. Heart-stoppingly glorious. Soul-crushingly disappointing. There’s nothing like it.

My faith is in Pete DeBoer tonight as the better coach. So far in these playoffs, the Stars are 4-0 following a loss with a goal differential of +10. DeBoer has never lost a Game Seven (6-0). He flat out knows how to coach.

Go Stars.


Actual Leadership

Today is Opening Day and this is the year the Texas Rangers win 90-games and lay the groundwork for a World Series Championship in 2024! They have the best team they’ve ever had in their miserable history, the best starting rotation in the Major Leagues, an All-Star duo up the middle, and the best pitcher in the world in Jacob deGrom. Bochy-Ball begins today. And it’s going to be a whole lot of fun.

Yes. I know. I’m drinking in every bit of it. I’m swallowing it whole. Hook, line, and sinker. I’m in.


When a baseball team is picking its captain, they don’t choose a rookie. Has a rookie ever been made the captain of a sports team? Healthy teams pick the ones who’ve won championships and played in All-Star Games. They select as captains those who’ve been doing it at a high level for a long time. They choose the ones who arrive early and stay late and live in the weight room. They don’t pick a guy because he’s all blinged-out and he drives a million dollar car and he just filmed a really funny commercial for Nissan. They pick a man with experience. A man who goes above and beyond.

They look around the locker room and say, “Who do we want to be like? Who can we imitate? Who’s already been there and might be able to get us there with him?”

That’s the guy they choose as their leader.

It’s very similar to selecting shepherds to lead your church family. We look around the congregation and ask, “Who do we want to be like? Who can we imitate? Who looks the most like Jesus?  Who’s acting and thinking and living like the Christ?” Let’s pick that guy.

You’re not looking for men who CAN be shepherds; you’re looking for men who already ARE shepherds. You just need to make it official.

“Respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord, and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

Designate the ones who are acting like shepherds. The ones who are working hard to serve the saints. Submit to them (1 Corinthians 16:16). The ones who are already teaching, praying, and encouraging; the ones  who are already making the visits and volunteering and leading small groups and pouring themselves into the relationships and the mission of your congregation. Follow them.

“Take note of those who live according to the pattern.” ~Philippians 3:17

Those who live according to the Gospel. Those who live in the name and manner of our crucified and coming Lord Jesus. Take note of them. Recognize them. Point them out. And follow them.

These church leaders are selected because of their work; they don’t start working because they get selected. The Bible says look at the people who are already serving the Lord and his Church and acknowledge them. These people are surfacing as spiritual leaders, so recognize it officially. Does he act like Jesus? Does he sacrifice and serve? Does he consider the needs of others more important than his own? Does he dwell in the Word and pass on the faith? Is his life being visibly transformed by the Holy Spirit?

Then he’d probably make a good elder.


Our Worship Minister here at GCR, Cory Legg, and I are heading to Abilene today for the now twice-annual ACU Summit. The highlight of the day will be the keynote dinner with and presentation by Kristin Kobes Du Mez, the history professor at Calvin University and author of “Jesus and John Wayne.” Her 2020 book articulates so well the problem the American Church has with credibility and Christian influence because of our ties with national politics. She connects the dots so clearly between the Church’s grab for power by using the ways and means of the world as opposed to transforming the world by Christ Jesus’ ways of sacrifice and service. She says so well in this book what I’ve been trying to say clumsily and without much effect for almost twenty years. I can’t wait to hear her this evening.

And if you’ve been thinking deep down in your gut for a while now that there’s something wrong with Christians asserting their rights, demanding their positions become everybody’s positions, and using power, threat, and violence to accomplish it, then I urge you to read her book. There’s a reason the Church is dying in the United States. And we have nobody to blame but ourselves. Lord, have mercy on us.



Spiritual Leadership

When a church is selecting its leaders, it needs to look for spiritual leadership, not worldly leadership. The difference between the two is huge. It’s leading by sacrifice and service instead of by authority and power. It’s paramount. If we’re following the example of our Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, this is a non-negotiable.

“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” ~John 8:28

Jesus says, in other words, “When you see my dying, when you watch me willingly give up my life for others, you’ll know I am the promised Messiah, the Good Shepherd.” Jesus is always completely surrendered to God’s will. He is doing God’s will in God’s ways. The proof of that is in his willingness to humble himself, to make himself the least important person in the room. To die.

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” ~John 4:34

My food, my passion, the thing that sustains me, the thing that motivates me, what keeps me going, my everything – is to do God’s work in God’s ways. My Father sets my agenda and he alone determines how I conduct my ministry: with sacrifice and service and submission. That’s how a shepherd leads. Never by power. Never by authority. It’s spiritual, not worldly.

The mother of James and John tells Jesus to ordain them as rulers next to Jesus in the coming Kingdom. He asks if they can pay the price. She says they can. He knows they can’t. The other disciples are indignant. So Jesus gathers all twelve together and gives them a lesson in the differences between spiritual leadership and worldly leadership.

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles (nations) lord it over them and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life.” ~Matthew 20:25-28

Jesus is talking about government leaders and business boards and military commanders. The way they lead is not the way we lead. Good shepherds lead from the back of the line, never the front. They lead by washing feet and dying, never by dictating and demanding. No chain of command, no hierarchy, no flow charts. The biblical model of Jesus, the Chief Shepherd, turns all that upside down. It’s the exact opposite of the way the world leads.

We mess this up in the church sometimes when we select worldly leaders as our spiritual leaders. It doesn’t work. Our culture tells us to choose successful men which means men who make a lot of money and dress nicely and drive expensive cars and live in massive houses, men who are leaders in the community, influencers in politics, and members of the board. Don’t do it. That’s exactly the opposite of spiritual leadership.




« Older posts