ELDERS: What in the world do they do?

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by Martin Schlomer

Last week, a person asked me, “While we were discussing your sermon in our Community Group, the question was asked, ‘What do elders do?’” This is a huge question! It is complicated by the fact that most of the time when the Bible references elders, it speaks about their need to be men of character and it says very little about their job description. When the does Bible speak about what they do, it mentions three things.

First, they are commanded to shepherd the sheep (Acts 20.28; 1 Peter 5:1-4). At Elim, this involves overseeing the general spiritual health of the Body. Practically, while this role certainly involves prayer, it is more than that. Shepherding people requires elders to ask tougher questions, which can be a challenge. Most people aren’t receptive to an elder poking around in their lives and asking questions like: “Are you growing spiritually”? “Are you spending time in the Word and in prayer”? “Are you involved in community”?

If it is any consolation, it isn’t easy for the elder to ask these questions! Regardless, this is a part of the elder’s role. Paul made it clear: “Be shepherds of God’s flock, which he bought with his own blood.”

Are elders the only shepherds at Elim? Absolutely not! Most of you are in small groups of one kind or another. These groups are the main place where shepherding should happen. The elders’ role is supplemental to these small groups. Therefore, the next time your elder gives you a call or sends you an email to check in, please take some time and respond in a thoughtful way. All of these men try to fulfill this important role so they can honor our Lord even though most of them work full time, lead their families, and serve in other ministries.

Second, elders are responsible to guard the doctrine. This involves overseeing the teaching to make sure that it is consistent with Scripture but that is not all! Elders have the responsibility to make sure that the teaching is insightful, timely, meeting the needs of the Body, and challenging you to grow in your faith. Now you can see why it is important to make time to answer those questions I mentioned earlier! It is essential for elders to have an adequate understanding of where people are so they can give me strategic input regarding what needs to be taught on Sunday mornings as well as in small groups and other venues.

Third, elders are responsible to oversee the vision. In other words, they make sure that we stay on the mission that Jesus gave to His church so we don’t become just another social club. This involves evaluating our ministries to make sure they are accomplishing their desired results. It also involves making sure the ministry directors are spiritually healthy and that they have the support and resources they need to accomplish their ministry goals.

There is one more responsibility that Elim’s elders have that is not mentioned in Scripture. They are responsible to hold the pastoral staff accountable to fulfilling their responsibilities and making sure they remain spiritually healthy.

As you can see Elim’s elders have important responsibilities. They need your prayers and cooperation. As the elders continue to take steps to engage you and lead this church, please have a responsive heart and share your heart with them. God has put them in your life because He is passionately committed to your spiritual growth and health. They are there to help all of us finish the race well.

God’s blessings to you as we pursue Christ together…

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All I Know About Fear I Learned as a 2nd Lt

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by Dan Amos

The fear of the Lord can be a difficult concept to grasp. It didn’t make sense to me that a God who created us to have communion with him would want us to be afraid of him.

A little light came on for me when I was a second lieutenant. In my first assignment I had the fortune of being assigned to two men with warrior spirits. My supervisor was Capt Williams who had transferred to the Air Force from the Marines. The motto of our office was “to close with and destroy the enemy using firepower and maneuver.” This was pretty ambitious for a bunch of intelligence analysts, but it set the tone.

Our commander was Lieutenant Colonel Bohn. I learned many things from him, but in this note I’ll only talk about fear.

You didn’t go to the commander’s office, you reported. That meant marching to the front of his desk, coming to attention with heels together and feet angled 45 degrees, back straight, left hand grasping an imaginary roll of quarters and thumb pointing down the seam of my pants. With my eyes forward and head not moving I’d salute with my right hand, forefinger just touching my eyebrow.

Now he might return my salute immediately and put me at ease or he might let me stand there for what seemed an eternity until he would return my salute and leave me at attention. It depended greatly whether I was there for reward, assignment, or discipline. I got to experience all three.

When I accepted my commission I gave up certain rights and put my destiny in the hands of others. Lt Col Bohn could make or break my career. My time in his command could be rewarding or it could be absolute misery. I wanted to do my best and it was through him that I would know whether I was in line with the mission.

For me this became an imperfect picture of my fear of the Lord. He has numbered my days. He is active in my life and my life is his. I willingly serve him and strive to set aside my will for his. He gives me assignments and it is my job to carry them out. And, like the tools in Harold Eash’s carpenter story, it is my job to do what God has called me to do.

So, when I was asked to return to the Elder Board I immediately said yes. I know the timing of nominations and was prepared if asked. At the annual meeting I and several others will have that invitation to serve confirmed or rejected. But either way, I know I don’t have to fear the result.

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Younger elders

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By Larry Short

God has blessed us here at Elim with a group of leaders, both men and women, who have a heart for God and are eager to serve others. In particular I am really thrilled right now that there are five men who are seeking congregational approval to begin two-year terms on the Elder Board.

Our church constitution allows for three consecutive two-year terms, and two of those men are completing their first consecutive term. Those two are yours truly, and also Steve Kearns, the vice chairman of the elder board. However, you may be aware that prior to a brief hiatus, both Steve and I served previously. In my case, I have served three previous two-year terms, and I’m sure Steve has done more at least that much.

We are also excited to be bringing back Dan Amos, who was elder board chairman when I came onto the board two years ago. I’m pretty sure that Dan, too, has served at least three prior terms.

What’s new this year is the remaining two candidates, Chris Pace and Nate Champneys. Both are younger men (in their late 20s … so, younger than me, anyway!). So I wanted to take this opportunity as elder board chairman to express my enthusiastic appreciation for Chris’ and Nate’s willingness to serve, and also give you some insight into our thinking about the benefits of bringing “younger elders” onto the Elder Board as a strategic move to ensure the health of our Body in the years to come.

Chris and Nate will be joining an elder board where the average age (right now) is probably 50. But, as we all know, physical age does not necessarily equate to emotional, mental, and spiritual maturity. Paul told Timothy, “Let no man look down upon you because of your youth.” Jesus Himself was a young man of 30 when he began his public ministry.

The real issues, of course, are: Does a person meet the biblical qualifications for servant leadership as elder? Has he demonstrated leadership in serving others in ministry? Does his life show a commitment to personal integrity and holiness as described in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1? Does he invest himself in growing closer to Christ and managing his family well? I believe that if you know Nate and Chris as I do, you will agree that these men fulfill these requirements and that their aspiration to leadership is a worthy one.

I have asked each of these men to share a little bit of his testimony and involvement so you can get to know them better. And, in the coming weeks, we will also be encouraging them to share more of their heart with you through this column and other venues of communication here at Elim.

CHRIS PACE

I’m 27 years old now, but I gave my life to my Savior at the age of 8. I was raised in a Baptist church and attended Awana from the 4th grade until my final year of high school. I worked as an Awana leader until last year, when I felt God telling me: “Now I want you to work with the Youth.”

I’ve taught 3rd and 6th grade Sunday School for years and have co-led college and career groups. For the past 9 years I’ve served as a camp counselor for one week each summer. Since I’ve started coming to Elim, about 3 years ago, I’ve not only served in Awana and with the youth, but I have also served as your sound tech, been involved in community groups and a men’s group.

I look forward to seeing how God intends to continue using me here in the body at Elim.

NATE CHAMPNEYS

As I have gone through life and heard many testimonies of those in the church, I have been envious. In the past I have felt that God really didn’t save me “from” much. I was a kid who grew up in a “good Christian home,” received Christ at age 6, and never really got into trouble. I always wished I had had a testimony like a Paul of Tarsus, or like my dad, whom God saved out of Mormonism.

But I have come to realize that every testimony is a good one! Every person whose life has been touched by God is an amazing story. I remember my dad talking with me about Jesus before bed one night and explaining Jesus and why he came and asking me if I wanted him to forgive my sins. It was that day that I began to fall in love with Jesus, and because God grabbed my heart at such a young age, he was able to use me despite my age.

I look back and I just can’t believe the work God has done in my own life and how He used me in the lives of others (which is not to my own credit!). One of the main things I think that had a big influence on me was my mission trips to Utah. I started going with my dad to Utah to witness to Mormons, every summer starting at age 11. Sharing my faith with others formed my faith because I had to put it into words to others.

This is true in any kind of ministry. As you minister to others, God is working in your own heart. With the one sermon I have preached in my life, I think I learned more than the people I preached it to! As I lead worship at Elim God grows me and ministers to me as I minister to others.

I am excited to be able to serve as an elder because I know that God is going to use the wise, godly men that are on the board to grow me in a way that I can then use to minister to the body of Christ at Elim. My heart is for the families at Elim to be able to draw near to the King of Kings and shake up the world for Him and His glory!
I am also excited to see such a diverse group of godly men on the board. Men from all walks of life, from those who are just starting families like Chris, to those who have finished raising their kids like Larry, Bill, Gordy or Steve. A group of men with the one desire to come together to seek God’s will for Elim. I can see God moving through this body; God has done amazing things at Elim in the last few years, but it is awesome to think that He has only just begun and the best is yet to come!

The final thing I want to share with you is something Nate touched on, when he mentioned the diversity of those on the Elder Board. I know that “diversity” (in the way the world uses it, to mean “To each his or her own”) can be a loaded word. Yet diversity (in terms of life experience) is one of the things I appreciate about Elim, and one of the things I think we should value in ministry. Yes, with younger elders, we will have the opportunity to help form them in ministry. But they will also have an impact on us! I have seen what having vital youth and young adults ministries has done for the Body of Christ at Elim. To me personally, it has brought new perspective, has helped me to see how important to the Lord it is that we remain vital, passionate, and culturally relevant in order to reach others with the Gospel.

I am excited about bringing these potential elders for a congregational vote. Young and old together, we look forward to what God is going to do in the months and years to come.

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Prayer

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by Brian Sharpe

At Elim over the years we have tried to make prayer a priority. We have had prayer times in, before and during the worship services. We also met on Monday nights and for special prayer times for happenings at Elim. We have explored many ways to gather for prayer because we believe prayer is important. Jesus said that God works when his people pray.

Throughout the Bible we see crazy and amazing things happen when God’s people pray. Job spent most of his book defending himself against his friends. It was not until he stopped talking that God started to talk and when God was done, Job was humbled by the greatness and vastness of God. Abraham was moved from the place where he grew up to the place where God was going to make Israel a great nation. Abraham petitioned God to save his nephew Lot when God was going to torch Sodom and Gomorrah. Elijah called down fire on the prophets of Bail through prayer. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were saved from a furnace through prayer. The lion’s mouths were closed and did not eat Daniel because of prayer. Prayer stopped rain for three years and then prayer made the heavens open up. Prayer is crazy and amazing.

We see throughout the Bible that God works in and through his people using
prayer. It’s a tool that God has given us to tap into the power of the almighty God and a lot of times we only use this tool before meals and bed times. I know I am growing in my understanding and my use of prayer. God has really convicted me about this. Prayer is where we invite God to work in a situation. It is where we recognize we need him. It is where we surrender and ask God to please work.

This is why we want to be a church that is marked by prayer. We want to be
a praying church. That is why we are excited about the prayer time on January 16th. God has taken Elim on a journey using The Gathering. When we completed The Gathering and began the fall schedule a group of people committed to pray for what God desired to do with The Gathering.

We gathered in October for a time of eating, communion and prayer. When we were done we thought this was something we wanted to open up to everyone at Elim once we got past the holidays. So that is what is happening on January 16th. It will be a time of eating, communion and prayer for Elim. It will be a time where we invite God to do some crazy and amazing things in and through Elim.

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