I grew up when Diff'rent Strokes was a popular television show. That's no big deal unless your last name is Willis. To this day I still hear those famous words popularized by Arnold: "Whatchu talkin bout Willis?" Usually they are uttered by someone looking at me as though I may have never heard it before. Yeah, right! Well this blog is what I (Willis) am talkin bout...my thoughts, observations & opinions. Enjoy...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Any Elders Out There?

Here's a really challenging quote from Alexander Strauch, author of Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church . . .

When the church eldership is viewed as a status or board position in the church, there will be plenty of volunteers. When it is viewed as a demanding, pastoral
work, few people will rush to volunteer. One reason there are so few shepherd elders or good church elderships is that, generally speaking, men are spiritually lazy. That is a major reason why most churches never establish a biblical eldership. Men are more than willing to let someone else fulfill their spiritual responsibilities, whether it be their wives, the clergy, or church professionals.

Biblical eldership, however, can't exist in an atmosphere of nominal Christianity. There can be no biblical eldership in a church where there is no biblical Christianity. If a biblical eldership is to function effectively, it requires men who are firmly committed to living out our Lord's principles of discipleship. Biblical eldership is dependent on men who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33), men who have presented themselves as living and holy sacrifices to God and view themselves as slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:1,2), men who love Jesus Christ above all else, men who willingly sacrifice self for the sake of others, men who seek to love as Christ loved, men who are self-disciplined and self-sacrificing, and men who have taken up the cross and are willing to suffer for Christ.

Some people say, "You can't expect laymen to rear their families, work all day, and shepherd a local church." That statement is simply not true. Many people rear families, work, and give substantial hours of time to community service, clubs, athletic activities, and/or religious institutions. The cults have built up large lay movements that survive primarily because of the volunteer time and efforts of their members. We Bible--believing Christians are becoming a lazy, soft, pay-for-it-to-be-done group of Christians. It is positively amazing how much people can accomplish when they are motivated to work toward a goal they love. I've seen people build and remodel houses in their spare time, for example. I've also seen men discipline themselves to gain a phenomenal knowledge of the Scriptures. The real problem, then, lies not in men's limited time and energy but in false ideas about work, Christian living, life's priorities, and--especially--Christian ministry. To the Ephesian elders, Paul says, "You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' " (Acts 20:34, 35). How do working men shepherd the church and still maintain a godly family life and employment? They do it by self-sacrifice, self-discipline, faith, perseverance, hard work, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

That's good stuff from Strauch and should be pondrerd by every current and would be elder. I highly recommend the aforementioned Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church.


Anonymous said...

Good stuff. I've gotta re-buy that book (I let Jason T. borrow it, and it was lost in a church building fire).

I'm totally convinced that elders are not "chosen" (like during a congregational meeting where they're nominated). They emerge--with coaching, mentoring, and watching the Spirit change their lives. The people in the church start looking to them. That's what happened with us. We set apart our first elders a month ago, and it was the result of several years of what I described above. They (along with the dude replacing me) will do a killer job when I leave in 10 days.

David H. Willis said...

That's great brother. That's the way it should be and is much better than the usual congregation voting in some dude who's been around for years and comes to all the "services."