I wish our elders did more ___________, and less _____________.
I’d love to see all our members complete this sentence according to their personal desires and hopes for God’s Church. According to their own frustrations. According to the ways they interpret Holy Scripture and see it applied at the congregational level.
And then I’d love to see all our elders complete the exact same sentence according to their personal desires and hopes for the Church and according to their own frustrations, according to the ways they interpret the Bible and see it applied at the congregational level.
And I promise we wouldn’t be able to tell which sentences were completed by the members and which ones were completed by the elders. They would look exactly the same. Exactly.
We all claim to want a group of spiritual shepherds, not a board of directors. But then we bog them down with questions and complaints about air conditioners and classroom space, bulletin boards and coke machines. And our elders, feeling those unrealistic expectations from the church to know everything and fix every problem, allow themselves to be weighed down by those unnecessary burdens. And we’re nurturing an unhealthy culture that prompts some of our very best men to say, “I can be a better shepherd if I’m not an elder.”
What a strange relationship between a congregation and its elders. What weird dynamics are involved when everyone in the equation wants one thing but act in ways that make that one thing nearly impossible to achieve.
Changing that culture won’t be easy. We’re up against decades and decades of tradition and policy. But the conversation here at Legacy starts this Sunday.
We’ll examine the relationships and the responsibilities between a church and its elders. Does your relationship with an elder make his job easier or more difficult? After a conversation with you, does an elder have a song in his heart or is he groaning? Elders who are frustrated because administrative matters are crowding out the spiritual duties, why do you allow it to happen?
It’s a two-way street. It’s a mutually encouraging relationship with mutually spiritual responsibilities between a congregation and its elders. And it’s up to the entire church—members and elders alike—to make the work of shepherding a joy and not a burden.
Fill in the blanks.
Now, Mr. Elder, what are you doing to make that dream a reality? Mr. or Ms. Member, what are you doing to make it happen?
They would look different and in some cases, significantly different. As to why the elders get bogged down, that is a subject that really requires a structed problem solving approach and is much beyond the scope of this forum.
From an ancedotal, hip-shot approach, I would start with the posotion that nature abhors a vacuum. People have questions and they don’t have a ready source of information. You want a multi-generational approach yet there doesn’t appear to be the same multi-pronged approach to communication. The website requires you to log-in – why not just open it up to everyone? There might be some FAQ’s already there but for whatever reason, I don’t like or want to log in. For those members who don’t enjoy the web, why not put something up in the bldg? Maybe there is a single, common communication point and I’ve just missed it due to my ADD/ADHD. The bulletin lists contact elders – lacking any other name, perhaps that drives the volume. There are like 200 deacons and it’s a good bet that one of them might be able to answer some of those questions that go to the elders however the general member doesn’t know who the all are (maybe a set of pictures w/responsibilities in a common area – easily accessible to all).
You are looking for spirituallity yet we need to pay attention to the logistics. I don’t like logistics however I know that i need to pay attention to them.
Wow! I love the special confession service I read about in an earlier blog. It reminded me of such a day we had when I preached for the Meadow View Church of Christ in Mesquite, Texas. One of our elders preached on we have gone around this mountain long enough and virtually the whole congregation of about 200 came forward for a fresh start. Wow! God’s Spirit is doing something great there at Legacy. I preach in Denver at a church plant here for the last 25 years, but drive by your building because my family is from DFW area. I think some old friends Paul and Jean Dennis attend there. Love your web site and your spirit that has been used tonight here in Denver to set me thinking about what I hope for our 24 hour missions fast that begins tomororw. Keep up the good work.
Thank you for writing this article. As an elder I was so frustrated this week with accusations being made against the elders, Ifought being depressed all day Thursday. Some of my good friends posted encouragement on facebook and help me put things in perspective.
Sometimes we elders are our own worst enemies because we don’t empower our deacons, ministers, and members to make decisions without us. Many times we learn more by making a mistake and correcting it than by always getting things right the first time. We need to empower, mentor, and encourage people, not manage them. In short, we need to be shepherds.
I am so thankful for men like you who have the courage to challenge all of us to fulfill the roles God has prepared for us without grumbling or complaining.