Friday, April 29, 2011


The Bible talks a good bit about Elders (pastors).  Most of us know this about the book of Titus (sometimes even referred to as "The book of the Elders") but there are also references in other places as well:

Ephesians 4:11, 1 Peter 5:1-4, Acts 11:30, Acts 14:23, Acts 15:2, Acts 20:17, Acts 20:27, Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 1:5,   and, the longest and most well know scripture regarding Elders outside of Titus being 1 Timothy chapter 3.  I would also like to add to this list Matthew 20:25-27 as Jesus' example of how Elder's should approach their position.

These verses all share the following things (I encourage you to look yourself):
Elders are a necessary part of Church life.  They are to provide leadership, encouragement, direction, exemplify the Christian walk, be attentive, available, cool headed, and wise.  They are not pushy or domineering or quarrelsome- they do not lead with an iron fist, but with servant's heart.  They are to take up their yoke of eldership with passion and by choice - not compelled and offered no financial gain in return.  They are to be ever mindful that they too were once 'unsaved' like everyone they ever come in contact with and that now they are recipients of God's grace and mercy (while still being sinners... like everyone they come in contact with).

Review the following 3 sections of scripture:

1 Timothy 3:1-7  
If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he's talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God's church? He must not be a new believer, lest the position go to his head and the Devil trip him up. Outsiders must think well of him, or else the Devil will figure out a way to lure him into his trap.

Compare it to Titus 1:5-9
Appoint leaders in every town according to my instructions. As you select them, ask, "Is this man well-thought-of? Is he committed to his wife? Are his children believers? Do they respect him and stay out of trouble?" It's important that a church leader, responsible for the affairs in God's house, be looked up to—not pushy, not short-tempered, not a drunk, not a bully, not money-hungry. He must welcome people, be helpful, wise, fair, reverent, have a good grip on himself, and have a good grip on the Message, knowing how to use the truth to either spur people on in knowledge or stop them in their tracks if they oppose it.

And now look at how Jesus portrayed leadership:
Matthew 20:25-28
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Now, some of you may wonder why I am writing a blog about Elders.  
Let me make this very clear:  because I believe we have Elders who embody and embrace exactly what they are called for.  Let me share a little of what's been on my heart for sometime now:

As you know, 

(those who attend Highland View Church of Christ in Oak Ridge, TN - those who follow this blog who do not, thank you and I encourage you to view these writings as notes on your own Elders and promote your deep thinking towards your thoughts and relationships towards your own Elders)

Erin has been working at the church for some time now.  Prior to that, my knowledge of our elders was ignorance.  I just didn't know, and for the most part, I didn't really feel that it concerned me much either.  During Erin's tenure I came to find that many of my perceptions that I had of the Elder's were dead wrong.  Again, let me reiterate, my stance was one of ignorance (as well as hearsay and assumptions which can be clearly summed up as: ignorance), and in my head I had the model of the "Iron Fist".  All decisions must pass through the Elders who would then sit quietly in dark meeting rooms, locked away in secrecy to weigh out their thoughts on the matter before passing judgement.  Then I got to see Erin's dealings with these men.  Erin would mount the courage to to go to them about some idea she had, she would draw up a plan, dot all her i's cross all her T's, suit up in her bullet proof vest and march into the hallowed halls (ie... the Library).  When she got there, at first coming in with many of the same ignorant pre-conceptions as I, she would make her pitch, sink back into her chair to await the gavel only to hear these men, with joy and pride in their voices give only one reply:  "go for it!".  
Our hearts and attitudes began to change and we began to judge those preconceived notions against the reality that we were now seeing and... came up wanting.  And to clarify, they weren't passing the buck with "go for it" they were giving an endorsement of "God has laid it on your heart, we can see your passion for it, we can feel the spirit at work - don't let us get in the way!"

Since I have come on staff and been privy to those dark, secret meetings I have found out first hand they are anything but (there's not even a gavel!).  I see these men before me saying "go for it" from their hearts.  I see men with a deep desire to see this church and it's members flourish, be filled with life, and reach this community and our world at large with the love of Jesus Christ.  They are supportive.  They welcome any idea from any member that is thought out, considerate, and Love and Grace focused.  Is their a budget?  yes, and there are hard truths to those numbers (and one hard truth is that on paper we take in less then ever and support more programs then ever and do desperately need the help of all of us in this body), but it is never a stopping point to God's plans!  What has brought huge respect from me is the fact that once the Elders see God at work in something, they do not hesitate - regardless of how their plant management brains think ;)
they Lead with their hearts.  

Consider that the elders are burdened (yoked with Christ) to make every decision they are faced with while considering every member of this church body.  A church body that includes rich and poor, 20 somethings and 90 somethings, married and unmarried, those who grew up in the church, those who are new to the faith, those who have always attended the Church of Christ and those who grew up baptist, methodist, or otherwise, people with babies, with teenagers, with grandkids, and who have never had kids, people with education varying from middle school to multiple Ph.Ds, people involved with everything everytime the doors are open, and those who come on Sunday morning and those are just a few of the millions of variables that face every decision - 
consider that if "unity" was your primary focus and you were responsible for making decisions for that group!  With that said, wisdom is of paramount importance.  Cool heads, calm thoughts, and rational thinking must prevail and our elders have great strength in those regards.  Many times considering things on decisions that haven't even crossed my mind - and thereby teaching me, by example, exactly as they are purposed.
On this note, remember how I mentioned that in the beginning I really didn't see how the elders (what they did, who they were,) even concerned me?  How the elders should concern all of us, whether we are involved with decisions or programs or not, is prayer.  Our elders need our daily prayers for what God has appointed them to steward.  

Erin and I have had nothing but support and encouragement and that is what has allowed God to do such wonderful amazing things in this body.  Ask anyone in ministry and they will tell you that the strength of faith and love of the Eldership dictates their ability to succeed.  I couldn't agree more - and in our case, it allows for following God - where ever He chooses to lead us.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter reminders...

As Good Friday is upon us and Easter Sunday arrives, I'm convicted to remember a few things.

Jesus Christ, God, left Heaven, became a man, left his glory became an outcast, left his riches and became poor, left his beauty to become all together unremarkable (in appearance), and left eternity to die.
 Jesus came to earth and met with pagans, communed with Gentiles, dined with sinners, walked with the sick, defended (*) adulterers, and showed us what True love truly is in that while we were all sinners, when we didn't know of his existence or even care, while we cursed his name and all that he stood for, he died for us, in our stead.  Jesus extended Grace, abundant grace.  He paid our ransom.

Grace is unmerited, unwarranted, not earned, not deserved, very much not fair (thank God!).
Christ died for everyone.  Not the 'good' people, not the chosen people, not the healthy, the good looking, and the prosperous - Christ died for me.  For you.  For EVERYONE.  Christ extended Grace freely to every person in the world...  so therefore we can not exclude.  We can not dictate who comes to his table, we can not judge who should be forgiven, we can not suppose to understand the 'process' of grace, we can not ever give up on anyone.  God, died, for all.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I want to address a very serious 'issue' today.  Most people say there is a crisis with the church today, a crisis of involvement (lack there of, specifically).

Whether there is or is not a crisis, what that means, the pros and cons, causes, affects, etc. will make for other topics on other days.  Today I want to address an issue I have the general complaint of it and some attitudes towards "fixing" it.

Here's usually how this goes.  At some given event (a retreat, a lock-in, a Sunday morning service, a Wednesday night class, etc) the attendance or active participation wont be what someone deems as ideal.  The following statement is usually made "they just need to get more involved" or, here's the big one, "how do we make them more involved?"
It's that question that I want to address today.

You don't.

We don't 'make someone get more involved" we get more involved with them!

If you want someone to be an active participant, they must feel like they have a vested interest in what ever it is that's taking place.  In order for that to happen, those people have to feel 'involved with' - they have to feel loved, feel appreciated, feel understood, feel important, feel safe.

If you want someone to get more involved (in whatever You're doing) then we must first get more involved with them, asking nothing in return.  We have to get into their lives, their kid's lives, their homes, their pain, sadness, grief, happiness, and passion.  We have to meet them where they are, wherever that is - we have to go to their ball games, their houses, their dinners if we ever want them to come to ours (church).  WE are the church... let's Go and Live it!

It's old, it's cliche, and it's 100% true, no matter how old, how young, how rich, how poor, how educated, how ignorant -  'They will never care how much you know (or what you have to say, or what program you want them involved in, or, or, or) until they know how much you care.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Hey all, this is a short, straight-forward post for everyone.  A dear friend of mine needed some words of encouragement for overcoming - for telling the devil where to go, for Trusting God to be able to bring them out, for Knowing God IS big enough.

If you find yourself (ahem... as we All do) needing those words, I encourage you to read these scriptures below.  As I put these verses together, I was powerfully touched and spoken to by these verses, including one of my favorites:   'Has the arm of the Lord been shortened!?"  -God.

Ephesians 6:10-17
2 Thessalonians 3:3
2 Timothy 4:18
James 4:7-8
1 Peter 5:8-10
Isaiah 40:28-31
Numbers 11:23
Psalm 44:6-8
Matthew 11:28
John 16:23
Romans 8:35-39
1 Corinthians 10:13
Luke 1:37
Luke 18:27
Psalm 54:4

Give it to God - but REALLY give it to God.  You can't do like I do and hand it over to God and then in 20 minutes decide, "You know what God... on second thought, you're just not working fast enough for me, and you've got a lot on your plate, so uh... I'm just going to take a little of that back" and piece by piece you pull it back from God and shut him out of the process.

I Love You.  God Loves You.  God IS Big Enough.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

Success! by who's standards?

Was your last Sunday morning service a success?  How about your Sunday School class?  How about Wednesday night?  

"What do you mean by success?"   Well, you tell me.  When you read "success" what was the 1st thing that popped in your head?  What was the benchmark that you thought of by which to judge said success?  

Honestly, you thought of something - what was it?  If we're honest, most all of us, most all of the time, immediately have our brains jump to some human benchmark that is the socially accepted litmus test for success - all churches have them.
Was it how many people you had on your attendance sheet, the +/- from last week or this week last year?  Was it how many people came forward for prayer after the service, or how many baptisms we had?  Was it our budget line or how many volunteers came out, or how many people filled out a commitment card?

Don't get me wrong, I do these things.  I get wrapped up in numbers, growth in attendance, etc.  But how silly, and almost embarrassing, are all those things as we read them?

God doesn't care.  Our thoughts are not His thoughts, our plans are not His plans.  Many are the plans in a mans heart, but it is God's ideas that prevail.  
Next time you find yourself disheartened by the attendance at your particular event, rest assured that the people God wanted there, are there.  If you are the Only one who shows up (I've been there...), then consider what God is trying to say to You in that circumstance (because then You are the person that God wanted there, at that spot, at that time).  We do not often see the fruits of our labor, but we don't do the labor for the fruits do we!?  We are called to further God's kingdom, not our own - to focus on His agenda, not ours.

Success is judged by God's standards, not ours. What we deem as failure by our spreadsheets, and attendance records, and bottom lines, God exalts as great success for His Kingdom. 
Never underestimate the distance God will go through to reach_just_one.