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Elder Q&A (Summer 2018)

Healthy churches have healthy dialogue all around the church. For the elders at Faith Bible Church, interaction is essential to shepherding. How can we gain the wisdom of the congregation or know what areas need to be addressed without it? Peter’s charge to “Shepherd the flock of God among you” (1 Peter 5:1-5) must include knowing and interacting with Christ’s people.

With that in mind we have started quarterly Family meetings to give updates, to celebrate, and to hear from the people who call FBC their home. Following are some of the questions we received and our answers. More are to come. As usual, if you have any further questions, please talk to an elder/pastor.

Counseling Questions

Q. How many people are in training from FBC to be certified Biblical Counselors? How are we training people outside FBC?

A. We have 14 people from FBC who are in the process of writing exams, and observing counseling in their preparation. Once completed they can do more counseling for people already part of FBC and also serve people outside of FBC who are on the waiting list for counseling. Attenders and members of FBC are always placed at the top of the list if they have counseling needs.

We are offering our Biblical Counseling Training in various formats. All of it is live. Brian and his team just finished a training week for a church in Moscow, Idaho. This Fall we have the Transform Conference. There may also be a training session here next spring for those from other churches.

Q. There are significant issues of addiction and homelessness in Spokane. Is there a way that we as a church are hoping to be part of engaging these huge and challenging issues with prayer, people and resources?

A. We recognize the need, indeed. We are working on three fronts. First, we contribute to UGM ministries. They help both homeless men and women. A number of our people serve there or work there. Many of our youth regularly minister at Crosswalk, a program that helps homeless teens. Second, we are working with the city in an effort to steer people to services that help in life, financial management, and work skills. Our Care Fund makes regular contribution to these kinds of services. Third, we are praying about developing addiction recovery ministry under our Biblical Counseling services. It will take trained leaders and a sound plan to make this biblical and helpful. We are aware that we could do more, but need to pray about God’s priorities for us as a church and our call to bring the gospel to the world. In Acts 6, the Apostles had to limit their help to the vulnerable (widows) because they were on the verge of neglecting their ministry of the word and prayer (Acts 6:1-4). We are praying for God’s balance in this area. If you are interested in helping in any of these areas, let an elder or growth group leader know. Please join us in praying.

Financial Questions

Q. Why did we let our previous worship pastor go, and can we consider hiring a new one?

A. A few years ago, we were experiencing a serious shortfall in our general budget giving and at the same time were holding a debt level that was too high to pay off. We were not big enough as a church to handle the number of paid pastors we had. We had to make a very difficult decision. After months of prayer, fasting and talking to the congregation, we determined we had to trim our staff by two positions. Our beloved Earl Dannen retired and we chose to cut worship ministry from a full-time position to a half-time position. Brad Pearson, our former worship pastor sought and found another full-time ministry in Spokane (South Hill Bible Church). It was a decision balancing resources, needs, and future. 

The worship ministry has been operating with Evan Jarms as the Worship Intern/coordinator while he finishes his music degree at EWU. Various teams lead on Sunday morning. We are incredibly thankful for their tireless sacrifice. They have been striving for excellence. Next summer Evan and his wife Emily will transition to Southern Seminary, where he desires to get his MDiv in Worship Ministry .

Our financial picture has improved dramatically and the debt will soon be paid off. We will begin the search process for a new Pastor of Corporate Worship this fall. We hope to have someone in place by March/April next Spring. Please be praying for the elders and music team as they work together on this.

Q. In light of the debt payoff completion, do you plan to incur new debt in order to accomplish the expansion goals listed?

A. Debt is always a burden. It is not always a sin, but right now, we all feel like it is a no. We just took 7 years to pay off the building, no one is excited about new debt. The Bible doesn’t forbid debt, but it does say we must eliminate it as prudently as possible. Our desire is that no debt would be incurred without a sound plan and timely payoff expectation. 

Q. Could we take the $80,000 surplus from this year’s giving and apply it to the debt?

A. With a budget as large as FBC’s this kind of surplus is better kept for weekly/monthly cash flow. With your home budget, you have large bills which come in at different times, and you need enough to cover them. Currently this surplus helped us get our building re-roofed, and added to our cash reserves. It makes it possible to pay the normal bills without as much monthly financial stress.

Q. How do we practically distribute the Care Fund both to those in our church and the community?

A. The Care Fund is the money from a monthly offering specifically designated to those in financial need. (Acts 5:1-4). Those within FBC are our first priority. Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” When someone notices a brother or sister struggling financially, they often contact an elder or growth group leader. When the needs are high, a few people come alongside this brother or sister and work with our deacons, Charlie Kopp or Jim Gilchrist for the best way to provide financial resources. Occasionally a person comes directly to Jess Colvin or a pastor with a need. We also make regular contributions to various ministries and services in Spokane such as Union Gospel Mission, Life Services, SNAP, 2nd Harvest, and World Relief. 

Ministry Questions

Q. Is there a plan for ways to transition younger people from ministry to ministry and encourage them to get them connected into the main body once they’ve outgrown youth/college group?

A. All levels of student ministries (children’s, youth and college) are intentionally teaching students about following Christ and loving others in the church. As they trust Christ, and begin to mature they are being shown how to serve the church by the examples of their parents and leaders. They are encouraged to serve in various ways and to attend the main service with their families. College students are regularly encouraged to serve in various ministries and they indeed are, for example many college students serve in Discovery, Youth Ministry, and Music Team among others. Once students transition out of college ministry (and don’t move back home) they are actively transitioned into regular growth groups and ministries.

Q. What should college students be doing to get to know the rest of the church better?

A. One of the best ways is to sit in a different area of the auditorium. The times before and after service, as well as the greeting time are very natural places to meet other members and find out about their life and ministry. Actively pursue them to do lunch after church. College students could also invite others to their apartments or dorms for “Ramen Parties.” Ask a family to visit, recruit them to pray for you and your ministry on campus, and you will bless them and be blessed. Finally, seek a place to serve alongside others in various ministries at FBC.

Q. How are the elders working to better integrate the ministries of FBC?

A. The elders/pastors are engaged in ongoing dialogue and planning to integrate ministry. For instance, Family, Children’s, Youth, and College Ministries are working together to provide parents biblical training to lead their children through the dating process. Wise parents start teaching and setting expectations about dating when children are very young. Another instance is in our equipping ministry. Jerod Gilcher is working toward coordination and planning of all the equipping we are doing whether its Women’s Ministry or Aspiring Men. This way we any see gaps, plan for future classes, and take advantage of the many gifted teachers in our church.

Ministry Planning

Q. What is FBC’s perspective on numerical size? Is there such a thing as too big?

A. Church size is a complicated issue. We believe focusing on the size of the church as a measurement of success is actually dangerous. What God calls a church to do is make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). The first church in Acts grew to 5,000 in just a few years. There is no formula for that to happen. God used His Word, a loving community and faithful shepherding as He saw fit. The real issue for us as elders is to grow in shepherding then to equip people to make disciples. That will go hand in hand with proper oversight, structure and planning. There is no such thing in scripture as the ideal church size. But there is such a thing as faithful shepherding. As part of our mandate for the great commission, we may engage in more church plants, sending pastors, missionaries and more. Church size matters only in relation to faithful shepherding. What we all want to see is “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47). And for each person to grow into Christlikeness (Colossians 1:28-29).