Category Archives: Elder

Do’s and Don’t for a New Pastor

Must reading for every new pastor coming into an established church.

Do’s and Don’ts on
Leading Change
Relating to other leaders
Member Care
General Counsel

This article deserves higher prominence than it has!

Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

Boy does this subject come up a lot!

Justin Taylor summarizes Jay Adams book here.

Print down, discuss the whole thing.

Court of Elders

I have long thought that 1 Cor 6 argues for having the elders functions as a “court” to decide matters. Here is the first hint I have had that DA Carson and baptistic ecclesiology could support it.

He answers this question: To handle certain categories of
divorce and remarriage cases within the
congregation, some churches have established a kind of “ecclesiastical court.”
What biblical warrant, if any, exists for
this practice?

Piper on Wife Abuse

Good and Bad Gossip

Quick Post on “Good” and Bad Gossip

Bad gossip –  talking to someone who is not part of the problem or solution about an issue or a person. Not even to “pray” about it. Gossip is saying things in private you would not say in public. Flattery is saying things in public you would not say in private. – (Not original with me, can’t remember where I saw it.)

“Good” gossip – I am using the term loosely to describe the Biblical command to talk to spiritual authorities about issues in the body. In 1 Corinthians 1:11 Paul says that some from Chloe’s household have, in addition to delivering a letter asking questions, have also reported problems in the church. They reported real spiritual problems to real spiritual authorities.

Church members need to be encouraged to talk with those in authority when they have a concern. We cannot operate on a Dont Ask Dont Tell policy.

Biblical Confidentiality – In addition, the church needs to be instructed about biblical confidentiality. Some have sought to manipulate others by saying, “I am going to tell you something but you have to promise not to tell.”

The biblical response is “I cannot make that promise. I can promise you biblical confidentiality. I am not going to run out and tell others. But I cannot not nor should not promise absolute confidentiality.” (Seem Matthew 18:15ff, 1 Corinthians 5:1ff). If this is a manipulative situation, you might even need to add, “And you should not ever ask this of anyone. It is wrong.”

Our people need to be clear that we do not needlessly pass on information. BUT we do bring in spiritual authorities as warranted. Pastors are not just church event coordinators. They are real shepherds of God’s flock.

Don’t Neglect Your Gift

Devotional written ten years ago!
Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you. 1 Timothy 4:14

One of the temptations we as elders face is to neglect our own spiritual gifts. We have been placed in positions of authority because we are faithful and reliable. Because of that faithfulness we will ask, “What are the current needs of the church?” “What can I do to build up the church?” We should do this. We are looking after Jesus’ interests when it may seem as if no one else is. But in this process of worrying about the whole, we can neglect our own unique gifting.

It seems that Timothy faced this. Paul was giving him many instructions to carry out in Ephesus. These issues needed to be addressed to build up the church. Timothy was to deal with false teachers (Chapter 1), correct some problems in worship (Chapter 2), ensure that good men were being placed as officers (Chapter 3) and make sure widows were being taken care of (Chapter 5) just to name some of the major themes. As elders, we can certainly relate to similar to do lists for our church.

But often in this outward focus to build up the church we neglect the inward focus of using our specific giftedness. So in the latter part of Chapter 4 Paul gives Timothy specific instructions having to do with him personally. One of those instructions is not to neglect his gifting. In other words, in the midst of carrying out some duties he has as an apostolic representative, he is to continue to develop and use his own gift.

As elder It is difficult to keep this balance. We are in this position because we are wiling to care for the whole church. One of the best ways we can build up the church is to grow in our particular gifting. I remember the advise given to me when I was taking some time for evaluation. This man of God said to me, “Since your gift is teaching, you ought to love people by teaching them.” Really this is another way of saying, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you.”

A church is not a franchise, where each location looks the same. A church is a collection of uniquely gifted and burdened people. As a result, churches are as different as the people who make them up. Churches are strong in one area because they have people that are strong in that area.

One of the biggest causes of elder dropout is weariness and discouragement. One contributor to this weariness can be working on the tasks before us with no regard to our gifts. If we are going to be in this for the long haul, we will need to balance these “duties” with activities that are within our giftedness and passion. The more we passionately exercise our gift, the more the church will be built up.

How to Announce Major Changes

Michael Hyatt suggest different ways to make major changes without a backlash.

1. Determine what you need to communicate.

2. Commit the message to writing.

3. Secure alignment with your leadership team.

4. Contact influential stakeholders personally.

5. Use all available media outlets.

6. Make yourself available to talk.

Over the years, I think I have learned some of these by making the mistakes. But he helps make them clear in list form.

Good News in Writing; Bad News in Person

If your brother sins against you, go to him. Matthew 18:15

I mentioned a few Sundays ago the principle I have tried to follow throughout my ministering to other people. I would commend it to our church as a standard. It is captured in this phrase, Good news in writing; Bad news in person.

Following this axiom has more profound implications that we can know.

I know of one pastor who would regularly write 4 -7 page-long criticisms and corrections of others. Rather than speaking in person, he would pour out his corrective and critical thoughts on paper and then mail it away. Needless to say, he wounded many in his congregation by handling conflict this way.

Likewise, I also know many pastors who tell of the painful letters they receive and how those criticisms pierce them deeply. These letters, sometimes anonymous, go into detail about what is wrong in the church or with the leader’s ministry. Today’s email makes this form of criticism even more available. Anonymous letters are particularly painful. Charles Spurgeon had this to say, “An anonymous letter-writer is a sort of assassin, who wears a mask, and stabs in the dark. Such a man is a fiend with a pen. If discovered, the wretch will be steeped in the blackest infamy.”

The problem with handling conflict in writing is that it is not biblical. A writer specifically disobeys Matthew 18:15 which says if your brother sins against you, go to him. We are to go in person, not in writing. Going in person allows there to be give and take, the reading of facial expressions and clarifying questions. Face-to-face communication also tends to soften harsh words. The written letter brings its news and inflicts pain over and over and over again.

We cannot hide behind a keyboard, instead we are commanded to communicate face to face. Because of this principle. I have made it my rule not to read critical letters or emails. Instead, it prompts a phone call to talk about the issue. As a church we are not perfect. We will have our conflicts. But Jesus commands that those conflicts be talked about, not written about.

As you deal with disagreements in the workplace, in your family and in the church, I commend this biblical standard to you.

Wisdom and Justice

I have put this post up at The Apollos Project and applied it to parents. Here, on The Shepherd’s Blog, it applies to leadership positions within the church. During a long, protracted conflict within our family of churches, this one lesson was drilled home to me again and again. Innocent lack of wisdom on my part can lead to real or perceived injustice on the parts of others. I as a leader need to be aware of the power I have and the unintentional hurt I can cause. Read the whole thing. Chap

So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong…So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this …for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart…1 Kings 3:10-12

As a leader, I will be called upon to make a myriad of decisions. Should we do this ministry or that? Should we do it at one time or another? Should we allow one thing or another? Should I recruit one person or another?   Truly leaders need the wisdom of God!

But as an imperfect leader, I will err. There will be times that I will not make the wisest choice. As a person in authority, I will unwittingly have made a poor choice. No big deal, right? We all make mistakes, right?

Except that this verse highlights an oft misunderstood principle by those in authority. In 1 Kings Solomon prayed for wisdom to administer justice. Why? Because when a leader is wise, his followers experience justice. But when a leader is unwise, those underneath him experience that lack of wisdom as injustice.

This principle not only applies to the leaders of countries but also to the leaders of churches and leaders of ministries. When a ministry leader is wise, his or her followers experience a just and fair time. But when we lack wisdom, those we lead will often experience this lack of wisdom as injustice. They feel our decisions as fundamentally unfair. Our innocent lack of wisdom can cause others pain.

So as we lead through the myriad of decisions that come our way, let us cry out for the wisdom of God to lead our church or our ministry. And let us sympathize with them when they feel the effects of our unwise choices. No, we will not lead them perfectly. Only the kingdom of Christ will bring in perfect wisdom and justice. But understanding this principle will help us treat those underneath us more gently, kindly, and compassionately.

How Elders’ Role Changed But Didn’t Change

Quick two minute video of how things changed but what did not change.