May 1, 2010

Godly Elders in the life of the Church

The ordination vows of the clergy and of elders in the Presbyterian Church (USA) are identical. The only place where they differ is in the vows that pertain to preaching and the administration of the sacraments for the pastors.

Congregations, on average, spend two years searching for the right pastor. But these same congregations elect elders into positions of leadership with almost ho hum matter of factness year after year.

That's nuts!

There are fewer things more important to the health of a congregation than Godly leaders.

If careful and prayerful consideration is not given to the leadership of the church, it won't be long before the most vocal, the most networked, and the most pushy people start asserting themselves as leaders causing great division in the life of the church. Their varying demands and their personal agendas quickly sidetrack the mission of the church. And internal strife quickly overshadows and overwhelms the mission of the church.

It is a misnomer to think that elders are "chosen" by the congregational vote and through the nominating committee. It is God who calls leaders. Our process of nomination and congregational vote is merely affirming God's call for certain people to take positions of leadership in the life of the church.

What we ought to be looking for in our leaders who demonstrate their capacity to follow God's will in the personal, private, familial, church, and public lives. If they fail in these areas, it would be crazy to put people who have not proved their leadership in leadership of the church. That is what Paul is saying in both 1 Timothy and Titus with the qualifications of leadership.

God loves the church, and therefore, God gives to the church the best leaders.

It is up to the church to hear and discern God's leading.

1 comment:

Anna said...

James - I appreciate your note very much. I'd be curious on your thoughts about ways to help a Nominating Committee discern who the Godly leaders are. (Maybe you've already touched on this a bit...) And also, what is the pastor's role/responsibility in helping to nurture and grow strong spiritual leaders - before and once a man or woman is called to serve as elder? Blessings, friend!