Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Role of the Elders

I made a comment in my previous post about about "one guy" doing all the preaching. I wonder why that is the model. In the Scriptures elders/overseers were responsible for the teaching and spiritual oversight.

Have a look at Acts chapter six. There, some of the apostles were being bogged down by distributing food; so much so, that is was interrupting their ability to share the word of God. Seven servants/deacons were selected to take this over, thus freeing up the apostles to spread the word. And spread the word they did, as many came to be followers of the Way. I would suggest that the bulk of the teaching should be coming from all the elders of a body. Elders according to Paul (1 Tim) should be able to teach so the argument that someone isn't gifted in that way shouldn't be an issue since it is a foundational criterion for an elder.

How would that look at our church?


Terry said...

That is an interesting point. A brethern assembly would have multiple teaching elders. Some of the larger megachurches have several teaching pastors. I think one of the reasons we have the single speakers is from tradition of the main denominations and those that broke out of those -- it was all they knew.

Some preachers have to preach all the time and make that the focus of the main meeting. We've been postulating that there should be a balance of the teaching and the worship and that one is not more important than the other.

How would it look at CBC? Well in the past we have done that - when Alfy went on his sabbatical in the fall of 2001 the rest of the elders stepped in and preached thru the book of Ephesians. In fact Victor and I both took two sermons and Bill Wright, who wasn't an elder, took a crack at it too. I'm scheduled to preach again on Aug 10th when Alfy is in Moldova.

But as a on-going speaking rotation and not just when Victor is gone on vacation? Not sure. We still have a generation that is focussed on the one-man idea and still haven't bought into the plurality of elders concept (which we all agree is the biblical model). A preaching rotation may be something we want to consider as a deliberate thing. Do like we did for Ephesians - maybe a few of us who are willing to do it routinely will be called on to do so. Again its something we'll need to discuss among the Elders and also teach the people the concept.

Stevie said...

I like the idea of multiple speakers but not everyone is able to speak well and communicate the scripture the same. To me there is a difference between being able to teach and speak. Some people have the gift, some people have it and just need it to be developed and other just don't have it.

Richie said...

I don't necessarily think that the elders need to all be preaching in front of the church on a rotation, though that could be an option. What if each couple met with several others to teach them or to communicate vision etc. I definitely agree with Stevie in that not everyone is comfortable speaking in front of big groups, but I think at some point you have to let the Spirit take over. And that may just mean by leading small groups. I just wonder what it would look like if the elders were each responsible for leading a group. They could either focus on new folks or those that have stepped as leaders within the church. It would definitely allow sound doctrine to be disseminated as well as develop community. I know there was an effort to have a "My Elder" type program. That has potential; it's at least a step towards that. Obviously the elders would have to have a clear idea of what the purpose of the groups would be for it to be most effective. I think it's worth exploring.

Terry said...

Now that we had a little discussion about this I understand what you are talking about - having the elders lead small groups. That should be something we do and I understand Richie's idea that we should be getting with folks in our neighborhoods.

That's an easy thing to say but the rub comes when trying to find a time and keep it consistent. Maybe we can meet with folks during the Sunday night hour we normally meet at the church. I know some folks have done that and although not specifically encouraged it was not discouraged by the leadership.

We do believe in "redeeming" the time we already have so that might be an alternative - continue on with the evening service for those that would like that kind of traditional format; have a few small groups meet at the building if they want and others in homes.

Question is how do you keep the momentum and excitement? Maybe it is going to P-Nats or Nats games on a sunday afternoon/evening or a picnic etc.

And you're right we need to get away from thinking that church is simply us gathering at CBC for a few hours each week and thinking that's being spiritual.


Greg said...

The InterVarsity model of small groups includes Nurture (Bible Study), Community, Worship/Prayer, and Outreach. Small groups are vital. Ultimately, I don't think we're going to find any one time that works for everyone. However, we should try to have enough choices so that someone could get plugged in if they want to.

I really liked the idea of "My Elder". One way or another, we should try to establish avenues for folks to communicate more freely w/ the elders, even if it is something as simple as elders having small groups of people over their house to share what's on people's minds.