Elders and Church Plants, "Nelders", Part 2
O ur special interest in elders here is the experience and calling of church planters. They must give priority to raising up people able to share their leadership load. Young churches rarely have that many seasoned spiritual leaders. That's why a growing number of church planters have elders in mind as they prayerfully map out their ministry design.
In past generations, America idealized being "the" leader, and so how pastors saw their own role. As I work with church planters today, they avoid that. They grew up knowing stories about flawed, failed leaders who crashed and burned. Elder ministry is a layer of accountability that helps avoid church planting disaster. But they have better reasons. I'm thrilled to see how many planters go directly back to the Word of God as they ask how ministry and church leadership needs to be done... it is there, in the Book, where we can drink in life-lifting instruction on what elders ought to be and do.
In Acts 20, Luke describes the scene where Paul, a veteran church planter, calls together elders leaves to meet with him before he continues his ship voyage back to Palestine:
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God which he purchased with his own blood." - Acts 20:281. Elders Care for the Ministry of the Word.
- Keeping the Gospel and the Christ of the Gospel in view
- Leading the church's teamwork of Gospel witness and mission
- Teaching the whole counsel of God.
- Discipling the membership and those who sincerely seek to follow the Lord.
- Screening and exposing false teachers.
- Demonstrating godly character and example.
- Prayer--lots of it--so the church works in the power of the Spirit, not flesh.
- Prioritizing how church conduct and relationships reflect the character of Christ.
- Dealing with inconsistencies or agendas that don't reflect faithfulness to God and the direction He has given. This will sometimes mean church discipline.
- Being peacemakers among members struggling with past offenses or differences.
- Creating ways to bring people together for worship, to serve on another, to bless the communities where God has placed us.
- Emphasizing our oneness as God's design, as Scripture repeatedly teaches.
- Exercising joint action to confront any group or person stirring division.
- Insuring that the Church Pays Attention to What God Wants.
- Leading the Church Align's With God's Purposes to Make Himself Known.
- Organizing All the Church Does so that Ministry Bears More Fruit.
- Instilling Awareness that the Church Exists for Mission and God's Kingdom.