Archive for the ‘Elders’ Category

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Elderlink 2007

March 26, 2007

On Saturday I attended my second Elderlink at the North Atlanta Church of Christ. What a fantastic program ACU has put together! The highlight of the event for me was the two-session keynote message by Jack Reese, author of The Body Broken. I highly recommend that book to anyone in the ICOC as well as the mainline churches of Christ. A number of folks in my congregation have read the book at my recommendation, and I am not aware of a single person who could read the book with dry eyes. Dr. Reese reaches the heart as well as the head as he identifies some of the deepest needs in both of these fellowships. If you care about the church, your heart cannot help but be moved by this book. How much more moving it was, to hear Dr. Reese in person on Saturday as he poured out his heart on these matters!

But there were many other inspiring and practical presentations. Everything was done excellently. I wish I could spend more time around these men. I need what they can convey.

Another high point of the day was encountering two men from my past. Both were converted in the same campus ministry as me, back in the 1970’s. Both are now serving as elders in mainline churches in NC. It was a moving, meaningful reunion. All together, a fabulous event.

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Shepherding

September 6, 2006

Today I am blogging about the question that is on my mind more and more lately: How are shepherds supposed to take care of the Lord’s church?

Without a doubt, all who have been called to be shepherds find this to be a sobering question. God clearly wants a job to be done, and to be done right, diligently, consistently, and persistently. The people he appointed to this work had better be doing it when he returns! The church which he purchased with the blood of his Son is the most important thing in this world. When God appointed men to take care of his church, he gave them a staggering responsibility. Who is up to such a task?

I spend a lot of time thinking, praying, and studying about this question–both in the scriptures and in extra-biblical sources. Many books have been written on the topic, and I have read a stack of them. Reading sometimes opens my eyes to new aspects of the task, or to techniques that others have found useful. It always humbles me as I realize how much I have to grow and learn if I am to properly fill this role.

As I ponder these responsibilities, a few points continually stand out:

1) Be there. Shepherds must be with the sheep, or they cannot do their job. That requires a lot more than being at Sunday and midweek services. It means sharing not only the gospel, but my life as well. It means feeding them publicly and also house to house. It means knowing the sheep. It means knowing the condition of the flock, identifying the needs, and taking steps to address them. Pray for me in this area!

2) Feed them. That means teaching the Bible, and showing them how to apply it to their lives. It is my conviction that the local congregation should teach the whole Bible to the church in a reasonable length of time. They shouldn’t have to go to seminary to hear the whole counsel of God. All scriptures are inspired and useful. When all of the scriptures are taken together, they thoroughly prepare the church for every good work. When parts are left out, the sheep have a deficient diet and will not be healthy.

3) Protect them. Paul charged the Ephesian elders with protecting the flock from the wolves who would arise. In particular, he warned them that some would try to divide the sheep and lead some away. Maintaining unity within the flock is a crucial responsibility of the shepherds.

4) Rescue and restore them. God rebuked the shepherds of Israel in Ezek 34 for not retrieving the lost sheep. He said he himself would seek them, rescue them, bind their wounds and make them safe. That is what the shepherds of Israel should have been doing, but were not.

5) Be examples to the flock. One of the greatest needs in most churches is for examples of spiritual men. Many of the problems in churches can be traced back to men who are not being spiritual. The church cannot be strong without husbands who treat their wives in a godly way, and fathers who train their children in godliness. Those who lead must set the example in these areas, and inspire others to follow.

Without God, nobody would be equal to this task. Certainly I would not be! Pray that God will help me to fulfill the role he has given me.

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Practical Thoughts from ElderLink

March 27, 2006

Several hundred elders, ministers, and wives attended Saturday’s ElderLink program in Atlanta. Elders from at least five states in the southeast attended, and at least one from as far away as Colorado. The conference program included an opening and closing address by Randy Lowry (a two-part presentation titled “Five Strategies to Manage Difficult Moments”), along with four timeslots for breakout sessions, with four classes in each timeslot. The classes were all two-part presentations so that, if you went to both parts of each presentation, each attendee had an opportunity to hear two two-part topics. I found Randy Lowry’s presentations to be especially practical and relevant, so I will outline it here.

As the title suggests, there were five points of advice for handling conflict.

1) Think Chinese. In the Chinese written language the word for crisis is made up of two parts: danger and opportunity. The advice here is to look for the opportunity in the crisis.

2) Focus on the process. Rather than going straight to the answer (my instinct!) he advised us to focus on the process for arriving at a solution. “The right answer at the wrong time, presented in the wrong way, could be the wrong answer.” He pointed out that Jesus cares about process in conflict resolution (Matt 18).

3) Go below the line. He pictured the conflict resolution space as a piece of paper with a horizontal line drawn in the middle. Above the line are the issues and positions. Below the line are the interests of the various parties. Instead of simply identifying the issues and deciding on our position on the issues, we should draw out the interests that are motivating each participant in the dispute, and to find ways to satisfy those interests.

4) Take care of the three things all parties need. Each needs to be satisfied with:

  • the product (result / decision)
  • the process
  • the people (how they were treated)

5) Embrace God’s promises
Jesus prayed for unity in John 17, for the benefit of the world. There won’t be complete uniformity nor agreement on every subject. But there needs to be peace, and God will bring it about.

2 Chron 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

This was an incredibly practical talk for me personally. I found myself needing to apply it within less than 24 hours after hearing the class! I sincerely appreciate the folks from ACU, Lipscomb, and the hosts at North Atlanta Church of Christ for providing this encouraging and practical resource in our area.

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ElderLink Atlanta

March 22, 2006

This Saturday, many of the elders, ministers, and their wives from the ministries of the ACOC will be attending the ElderLink program in Atlanta. ElderLink is a ministry of Abilene Christian University. From their website:

Perhaps you have heard a common theme from elders: “I’ve been asked to serve my congregation as an elder, but no one has ever taught me how to do this, and there are few resources to help me.” Many of our finest, most committed church leaders feel fatigued, frustrated, or inadequate for the enormous responsibilities they face in serving as elders.

A ministry from ACU called ElderLink addresses this serious need. The mission of the ElderLink ministry is to equip, encourage and link those who lead and serve as elders in Churches of Christ through collaborative relationships, informative resources and shared learning opportunities.

Saturday’s ElderLink forum in Atlanta is being hosted by the North Atlanta Church of Christ.

I am very excited about this opportunity to learn and to build relationships with other elders in the Atlanta area. Please pray that many good things come from this forum.