Archive for Category: eldership

Jimmy Carter as a role model

I can’t be too hard on this guy – he’s from the South. Excuse me – ‘da South.’ Actually, he’s not one of my favorite statesmen. Politics aside, he is a true model with respect to eldership in a couple of ways.

Remember now, just as every Christian woman has obligations to the young, so also, Christian males, aka seniors or elders. See 1 Peter 5, where older shepherds (elders) are contrasted to the “younger ones.” .

Carter isn’t quitting or becoming inactive because of old age. This week, he’s grabbed the headlines again, meeting with leaders of an Arab terrorist organization, Hamas.

Corollary: Biblical elders never retire! Thus, none are said to have “stepped down from office.”

2. Carter no longer has an office in government but he still participates in government.

Corollary: All the saints are empowered to serve even without an office!

Psalms 92:14a They shall still bring forth fruit in old age;

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Taking back the streets of Philly

Ordinary caring people and older ones (elders) doing what is usually done by professionals. Hmmm… Do you see any parallels with church life? Are you a volunteer or do you expect professionals to take care of everything? Looks as if most folks in Philadelphia don’t want to get very involved despite it being the City of Brotherly Love.

Still, it’s is a great idea – perhaps the start of something permanent.

“10,000 Men, A Call To Action” kicked off on some of Philadelphia’s meanest streets Tuesday night, near 19th and Federal in the 17th District on the city’s South Side.

It wasn’t thousands that showed up, but dozens … all African-American males, most in their 40s and 50s, some pushing 70, fathers and grandfathers hoping to make a difference.

“We’re doing this for the children,” one told me. Showing they care, patrolling block after block in reflective “Town Watch” vests, talking to residents and drivers, handing out fliers, chanting, “It’s a new day, a peaceful way” and “10,000 strong can’t be wrong.”

We walked with them from a local community center to a gritty area a mile away, where they canvassed six square blocks, two-way radios and fliers in hand, talking to anyone who would stop and listen.

I saw curious stares from behind curtains, skeptical looks from some young people on corners, and honks and hugs of gratitude from others.

The all-volunteer effort is designed to reassure folks in the crime-plagued neighborhoods that people still care about their problems, spreading the word help is available for jobs, financial services, youth programs and more. The fliers have phone numbers on the back and words of explanation and encouragement on the front.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,313564,00.html

 

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Gone from here but not forgotten

Another Father’s Day is upon us. I am, like you, remembering Dad. George Andrew Anderson was his name. Needless to say, he wasn’t a perfect man but he was a good man in the opinion of one who observed him day by day.

The defining moment of his life was World War 2. He came back from Europe a changed man, everyone said. He felt spared by God and lived accordingly. He had witnessed devasting loss of life and property. After that experience, material possessions meant very little to him.

He read the Bible with us each evening and prayed. As a lad, I would peep through the crack in his bedroom door to see him in his pajamas, kneeling on his bed before God.

Dad, known to his students as Dr. Anderson, taught at a number of Christian colleges in the South. Clinton, SC. Montreat, NC and Bristol, TN. Prior to his death, we often talked about non-traditional church issues and he was very open to them and encouraged me to continue my informal research.

He was both thrifty and generous. Thrifty, because he lived through the Great Depression on a farm in Virginia.

After his death, I was sifting through his papers and found a number of cancelled checks to “Jesus to the Communist World.” (This was a ministry of Richard Wurmbrand, now called “Voice of the Martyrs.”) They were very large checks for a man of his means. Several were for more than 10 thousand dollars. The phrase “Bible distribution” appeared on the comment line of each check. Perhaps some of these Bibles led to conversions which resulted in house churches in Russia and China. I’d sure say so but only God knows.

Mom and Dad raised six boys and one girl. I was second from the last and have sometimes thought that if he had believed in and practised modern birth control, I would not be here… After we children left the nest they adopted two others – young adults for a period of a few years each.

Dad was a most unforgettable people-loving, Jesus-loving guy who used his humble home for the Kingdom. I look forward to meeting him again in that eternal place beyond the skies.

How, may I ask, does/did your father or grandfather influence you in intentional and unintentional ways?

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young men going nowhere, taking no one

In Seattle, the young men are, generally, pathetic. They are unlikely to go to church, get married, have children, or do much of anything else that smacks of being responsible. But they are known to be highly skilled at smoking pot, masturbating, playing video games, playing air guitar, free-loading, and having sex with their significant others. However, the emerging-church massage-parlor antics of labyrinth-walking by candlelight will do little more than increase the pool of extras for television’s Will and Grace. If there is any hope for a kingdom culture to be built in Seattle, getting the young men to undergo a complete cranial-rectal extraction is priority number one.

Mark Driscoll, Radical Reformission, p. 184

And:

The problem in the church today is just a bunch of nice, soft, tender, chickafied church boys. 60% of Christians are chicks and the 40% that are dudes are still sort of…chicks. It’s just sad.

We’re looking around going, How come we’re not innovative? Cause all the innovative dudes are home watching football or they’re out making money or climbing a mountain or shooting a gun or working on their truck. They look at the church like that’s a nice thing for women and children. So the question is if you want to be innovative: How do you get young men? All this nonsense on how to grow the church. One issue: young men. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. They’re going to get married, make money, make babies, build companies, buy real estate. They’re going to make the culture of the future. If you get the young men you win the war, you get everything. You get the families, the women, the children, the money, the business, you get everything. If you don’t get the young men you get nothing.

Mark Driscoll, speaking at the 2006 National Desiring God Conference

In the New Testament there is not a longer list of grammatical elements than those prescribed to older ones or elders of the church. There are two such long lists (1 Tim 3, Titus 1) and a host of other exhortations. It has to be a serious matter. The apostles “ordained elders” as they went from town to town. Those in view were ordained or appointed to a task – loving oversight of the younger ones – not to an office in the modern sense.

The term “elder” is a comparative one pertaining to age. Thus, the aimless younger men mentioned above are actually older ones in relation to their juniors. Regardless of their age, all Christian men should be preparing themselves for a life of service to the chief Shepherd and to his flock. This is their calling. Unfortunately, most don’t know it because they haven’t been taught it. As a result, this most natural of human relationships has become highly professionalized.

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debt-loaded troops as security risks

SAN DIEGO Thousands of U.S. troops are being barred from overseas duty because they are so deep in debt they are considered security risks, according to an Associated Press review of military records.

The number of troops held back has climbed dramatically in the past few years. And while they appear to represent a very small percentage of all U.S. military personnel, the increase is occurring at a time when the armed forces are stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We are seeing an alarming trend in degrading financial health,” said Navy Capt. Mark D. Patton, commanding officer at San Diego’s Naval Base Point Loma.

The Pentagon contends financial problems can distract personnel from their duties or make them vulnerable to bribery and treason. As a result, those who fall heavily into debt can be stripped of the security clearances they need to go overseas. From Fox News, October 19, 2006

First, I do not view soldiers with debt as having done anything amiss whatsoever. Tours of duty are longer than ever and the cost of living keeps going higher especially when the main wage earner isn’t present. Many were in the Guard prior to the War as a second or third job in order to pick up some extra cash. The issue here is being overly indebted.

I do happen to see something in this account which reminds me of how debt – often based upon greed – can paralyze some of the opportunities which we might have been able to sieze for the Kingdom. Debt can even leave us as a risk to ourselves and to others. Think of all the marital disharmony which has been precipitated by money matters… Christians not excluded.

My Dad, who experienced the Great Depression, used to say to his 6 sons: “You can’t spend it but once.”

Larry Burkette used to teach that the greatest hindrance to Christians missions was DEBT. Of course he would be a little biased as a debt counselor, still he may be right. God knows.

2 Timothy 2:4 No man that WARreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a SOLDIER.

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voluntary eldering vs. hired coaching

My “tentmaking” way of living out my passion is by “Coaching” people on how to start and/or lead a Simple/House Church. I also coach people regarding their personal issues, and helping them move towards their dreams and goals.

If you’re new to the process of “Coaching,” it is a powerful process that helps you get clear about what God is up to in your life. It is a process of discovery achieved through dialogue and by wrestling with clarifying questions.

I have 20 years of experience helping to disciple (mentor, coach, teach, train, counsel) men and women into wholeness and life (with a capital “L”). I am a Professional Coach as well as a Church Planter, focusing on simple expressions of church.

I charge $150 a month for three (30 minute) sessions conducted over the phone. If you’d like to give coaching a no obligation “test drive” with me, email me and we’ll schedule a free session, to see if it’s a good fit for you, and for me. If you’re ready to get started, email me using the link at the top of the page.

The info above is from a house church site which can be located via google.com if one so desires. I am considering this person’s methods today, which I believe are unscriptural and antiscriptural – thus counterproductive. I am not considering his motives which I doubt not are noble and intended to advance the kingdom of Jesus.

First, being a true biblical tentmaker would exclude charging for ministry. If this person is a real Professional Coach and I don’t doubt that he is, would he really need to be collecting money from small churches to the tune of $100 per hour? And why capitalize these titles? Why withhold needful information to a brother until you are paid for it, making it an article of commerce? What happened to “Freely received, freely given?” What happened to “We don’t seek yours, but you.” Matthew 10:8 and 2 Corinthians 12:14: Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children (you Corinthians) ought not to lay up for the parents (we apostles), but the parents for the children.

If this is about “simple church” does one really need to be coached three times a month???

The apostle Paul confessed that “he had the care of all the churches upon him” yet he never solicited fees, offerings, tithes, or gifts for himself or his ministry. He was not selling anything, either, thank God. Nor did he offer freebies up front in order to market something else later. That’s what drug pushers do.

If anyone could have exempted themself from the workforce, would it not have been Paul? As a traveling, itinerant evangelist/apostle/missionary he was entitled to support but that is a far different situation from the settled “local pastors/elders” who were enjoined to work just like he did. See Acts 20 below for this little known text. Most students of the Word know the “more blessed to give” part but the context of the local leaders being exhorted to follow the apostle’s example of tentmaking seldom registers.

Of course Paul did occasionally recieve aid but that isn’t the same as “services for fees.” So, are we really wiser than he? I doubt it. Has not the commercialization of the church adversely affected it? I believe, I know that it has and that the gospel should not be an article of commerce anymore.

By the way, when I was an unregenerate person one thing that greatly influenced me toward the gospel was the fact that the Jesus and his apostles were not money grubbers nor were they covetous, Judas excepted. I also was familiar with a true man of God who always volunteered his services in the churches as a guest speaker. His habit was to quietly put the checks given to him by the churches back into the collection plate with a gift of his own. God used these things to slowly melt my stiff heart. When I observed up close this volunteer elder, I knew the gospel was real.

I have not coveted anyones silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work WE MUST help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:33-35.

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2 Thessalonians 3:6-13: Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any mans bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

“Be not weary in well doing.” Now that’s another pithy saying which is often taken out of it’s original context which is OK because it can stand alone. Still, the context is that of an apostle who paid his own way.

I hear today a lot of fantasizing about wanting to be “apostolic” but little or nothing said about this aspect of it.

If I interpret these words rightly, Paul is saying that unless one is following his counsel, example, and tradition concerning a lifestyle which includes being gainfully employed then he is guilty of “disorderly” conduct and should be “withdrawn from” that he might be ashamed and repent.

Truly, the first will be last and the last first when it’s all over on planet earth. But it’s sad to see those in the house church community adopting the fund-raising practices of the world. Why? Because we have total freedom to do what is right. Sorry, but I cannot see a true apostle promising that for “an offering in any amount” he would send the first portion of his next book. Nor would he have collected names for a “free” newsletter, calendar, or magazine intended to milk donations out of the recipients. Nor would he have charged for “coaching sessions.” Rather he:

… dwelt two whole years in HIS OWN HIRED house, and received ALL that came in unto him. Acts 28:30

By the way, several years ago the leading “Christian counselor” admitted that that industry would be better left to volunteers.

Why would a man redirect his life’s work at its zenith?

Two years ago, in an interview with Christianity Today, Larry Crabb, a Christian psychologist and best-selling author, announced, “In the end, all counselingintentionally or notdeals with issues of sanctification. The primary context for healing, then, should be the Christian community, not the antiseptic world of a private-practice therapist.”

Put simply, Crabb has had a conversion experience, and his new thinking has direct implications for pastoral work.

Crabb coined the term ‘eldering’ to describe what he believes ought to go on in the local church between older, wiser members and younger, struggling men and women. He believes this interaction can often be more redemptive and healing than traditional psychotherapy.

http://www.ctlibrary.com/le/1997/spring/7l2037.html

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Bucking the Clergy Mystique

Charles “Chuck” Swindoll is a popular radio and TV preacher. I, for one, heartily agree with many if not most of his teachings.

On his radio broadcast of 3/22/06 brother Swindoll noted that he was a frequent conference speaker. He went on to say that of the conferences he regularly attends the “pastor’s conferences” were, by far, made up of the most depressed delegates.

I can see why. To think that one person is essentually responsible for pastoring an entire church would bring just about anyone to a very low level indeed. It’s like giving a person a pick and a bucket and saying to him: Go over to that mountain and remove it.

If a church has several hundred members, most pastors wouldn’t know all their names, much less be able to minister to their personal needs. How could he/she spend time with each one in order to establish a working relationship with them? And if you don’t know someone, how are you going to love them, council them, and “one-another” them?

God’s plain plan for his church is that elderS (plural) be the shepherds of the flock. Acts 20. 1 Peter 5. Oh, I know that many groups give lip service to the plurality notion but sqirm loose of it in their practice.

Can we look at the great animal and plant kingdoms, beholding their perfect order, and then dismiss the idea that God also has definite arrangements for his own Kingdom? No doubt having a smart and smooth “teaching elder” in place simplifies things BUT the price is that the other elders never develop their own teaching gifts. If I’m not mistaken, the most detailed instructions of a church meeting in 1 Corinthians 14 call for several speakers rather than a single sermon by one person.

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Wonder if Chuck is really satisfied with his clergy persona. Wonder how his wife likes being the typical preacher’s wife who has to look and act so much like the typical preacher’s wife. Were his kids the typical hell-raiser PK’s?

Chuck seems to enjoy bucking the clergyman image now and them. On the cover of his “Laugh Again” he’s perched on a new Harley in a black leather outfit. Here’s a paragraph or so from Chapter One:

Cynthia and I are into Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

I know, I knowit doesnt fit our image. Who really cares? We stopped worrying about our image years ago. We should be ashamed of ourselves? We arent. Were having a mutual mid-life crisis? We hope so. We should be better examples to the youth? They love it! Actually, its only a few crotchety adults who dont. What are we going to say to our grandkids? “Hey, kids, wanna ride?1 And how are we supposed to explain it to the “the board?” They dont care either.

We are having more fun than anybody can imagine (except fellow Harley riders). One of the best things about the whole deal is that those guys and gals down at the bike shop dont have a clue as to who we are. We have finally found a place in our area where we can be out in public and remain absolutely anonymous. If anybody down there happens to ask our names, well just tell em were Jim and Shirley Dobson. Those Harley hogs dont know them either.

………….

When we came back to our senses, we realized that somehow we were sorta misfits. I mean, a responsible senior pastor and radio preacher in a suit and tie with a classy, well-dressed woman who is executive vice president of Insight for Living perched on a Harley-Davidson in a motorcycle showroom. Everybody else was wearing t-shirts, torn jeans, boots, black leather stuff, and sported tattoos. I saw one guy who had a tattoo on each armone was a snarling bulldog with a spiked collar and the other was a Marine insigniathe eagle, globe, and anchor of the Corps! A few folks were glancing in our direction as if to say, “Get serious!” And Cynthia leaned up again and whispered, “Do you think we ought to be in here?”

“Of course, honey, who cares? After all, Im a Marine! What I need is a pair of black jeans and leather chaps and all you need is a tattoo, and well blend right in.” The jeans and chaps for me, probably someday. But Cynthia with a tattoo? I rather doubt it. Somehow I dont think it would go over very big at formal church dinners and the National Religious Broadcasters banquets.

Hey, glad to hear somebody’s having fun out there. All I do is work. Oh well, it seems that way. Ditto for my home-schooling wife and mother of six. LOL. Me, I’m not jealous, no way. I’m glad for folks that can throw down 25 grand for a motorcycle and a membership in the elite Harley club. LOL. Chuck wants us to laugh, doesn’t he?

While we’re laughing … What about all those folks who sport the Harley shirts, jackets, and decals on their cars and trucks? Most of the ones I know don’t own the genuine article. Reminds me of how we can have the appearances of a true profession of faith in Christ and yet have no actual possesion of Him.

What, btw, would have been the value of 10 grand invested in H-D back in say 1986? Oh, don’t take my word on it. Just go to the link below as you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway:

“If you had invested a mere $100 (one hundred dollars) in Harley-Davidson, Inc. common stock at the end of 1986, the year of our IPO, and reinvested all dividends, the value of your investment on December 31, 2005, would have been approximately $16,140.”

http://investor.harley-davidson.com/HDvsSP500.cfm?locale=en_US&bmLocale=en_US

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Shortage of elders?

What if the older ones of the community really were the elders mentoned in the NT? I say “mentioned” because there would have been no need to describe or identify elders as the older ones – thousands of years of recorded history already rendered them as such. In the old world, the older ones were the honored patriarchs and vip’s. Somebody of my age, could in fact, have easily had great grand-children running around underfoot.

Every Christian senior is commissioned to be a shepherd, guide, pastor, and teacher to the young. See Acts 20, for example. How natural – the older ones teaching the younger ones. The church does seem to grasp this idea with respect to the women teaching the young, but there’s a blind spot the size of Texas when it comes to applying it to the males.

Let me put it like this: I see, in my travels around the internet, hundreds of references to “Titus 2 women.” They even have clubs. But where are the Titus 2 men, mentioned in the previous verse and chapter?

In the “pastorals” the translators confused the matter by translating the original word, presbuterous, as “elders” AND/OR as older men. See also 1 Tim 5:1-2. But you cannot miss the seniority aspects of 1 Peter 5. After addressing the elder ones – the elders who were to voluntarily shepherd the flock – Peter immediately charges the YOUNGER ones with an unmistakeable “likewise.”

Yesterday, there was a story in the news about the impending shortage of priests in the catholic church. We protestants might reply that it really depends upon how one defines “priest” and that actually all believers are priests – thus no real shortage.

Likewise for the elders of the church – there is no real shortage of them. They just haven’t (yet?) entered into the pastoral role which God ordained and appointed them unto. And a long as eldership is viewed as an office, calling, or career, they never will.

Instead of the traditional “senior pastor” concept we need to move to a “seniors who are pastors” perspective.

That aside, though the seniors were and were to be the natural spiritual leaders as the heads of large families, there is still nothing at all to prevent or discourage a younger man from focusing upon serving the church as an overseer or bishop. Thus, this subject is broached by Paul: “This is a faithful saying, if ANY man…” There, btw, is another prob – most English translators just add the word “office” – it does not appear in the Greek,

One other thing, many modern business models are making good use of mentoring and internships. Hundreds of books and articles from the corporate world advocate mentoring. Why hasn’t the church world done likewise?

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“Never was so much owed to so few.”

Winston Churchill had those immortal words to say about the young pilots of England’s Royal Air Force. Many of these pilots were a mere 17 years old. They turned the course of World War 2 in the skies over Europe.

Think of it… the free world saved by a determined band of very young men and that against telling odds. Some of course were older than teen-age – at the end of the War some of the 17-year olds were 22. (Hundreds of the orginal RAF pilots had been shot down which is why the very young ones had been recruited.)

I get the idea that maturity in days gone by was reached earlier. I also believe that living for God makes for a more serious person and so it should. I realize that these are broad statements but I think that I am on solid ground when I draw the lines between true, biblical eldership and maturity. Why? Because the requirements for the older ones, or elders, most all have to do with character – not academic achievement. See Titus 1 and 1 Tim 3.

So, how do you teach your children to accept responsibility? How are you preparing them to take their place in the church as the elders of tommorrow?

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