Main idea: Be quick to waive your rights for the privilege of proclaiming the gospel StatusJohn 13:12-15Natural RightsScriptural RightsMinistry RightsEarthly Rewards...
In his first epistle, the Apostle Peter gave specific instructions to the elders among various groups of scattered believers (1 Peter 5:1-3). Almost 2,000 years later, the charge is still the same for overseers in the church. They are to shepherd the flock, to exercise oversight, and to be examples to the church with eager and willing hearts.
How is this done practically?
Well, one way that the elders of Faith Bible Church carry out these directives is by convening every other Tuesday evening for elders meetings. The elders want members of Faith Bible Church to know they are welcome to come to these meetings and observe.
“We want to be transparent with what we are doing as elders, and hopefully be an encouragement to anyone who would come,” says Pastor Nathan Thiry, a staff elder.
On July 12th, I attended the meeting. The following is a summary of what I observed and a few reflections.
The meeting began with a discussion of a chapter of a book about deacons that the elders have been reading. Mark Frankian, the ministry operations director, led the discussion. Different elders shared how the book impacted them. After their takeaways were shared, a question was raised: Where do the elders go from here? After some possibilities were raised, the discussion was brought to a close with prayer.
“The elders want members of Faith Bible Church to know they are welcome to come to these meetings and observe.”
Before separating into smaller groups for prayer, Teaching Pastor Dan Jarms asked the groups to discuss an accountability question related to this summer’s Peace Within, Peace Without sermon series: How have we been killing worry in our lives? Within my group, men shared their experiences of putting off worry by putting on gratitude, sharing anxieties with one’s spouse, and seeking to serve instead of worrying.
Next, the smaller groups prayed for each other and for members by name. A partial list of members had been invited to share their requests via text earlier that week. Prayer lists with names and specific requests were handed out to everyone at the meeting. Not every member on the list had submitted a prayer request, but all were prayed for nevertheless.
According to Dan, every member of Faith is prayed for by name twice a year at elders meetings, but that does not mean members cannot be prayed for more often. Urgent prayer requests are always welcomed and prayed for at these meetings. (Go to fbchurch.org/request to submit requests online.)
After the prayer time, the elders discussed administrative and budgetary items. One of those items was the upcoming stage renovation. This part of the discussion ended with an elder praying over all the details.
Dan Dionne and Nathan Thiry then provided an update on some of our global partners. Elder Brian Writebol, who had recently returned from the Southeast Asia Team’s trip, gave an account of many of the amazing things that God did and is doing in that region. The idea was raised to host a Sunday evening forum open to anyone at Faith to learn about what the team did and what God is still doing. This part of the meeting was also brought to a close with prayer.
Next, Dan Jarms shared a packet of statements and Bible verses outlining a biblical view related to abortion. The elders desire to create a primer for church families to help parents instill into their children a biblical worldview regarding the sanctity of human life. The idea was raised during this discussion of also creating an apologetic on abortion for Christians to discuss with people in their lives who do not have a biblical worldview. Once again, this portion of the meeting was closed in prayer.
Finally, Youth Pastor Ian Rush shared his initiatives for the Youth Ministry over the next five years. The other pastors had shared their initiatives regarding their ministries at a previous retreat. All of the youth initiatives related to a common theme of making sure that everyone is being equipped and discipled: from students to youth leaders to parents. In closing, someone prayed for the Youth Ministry.
After Ian shared, staff elders and visitors were dismissed from the meeting so that the lay elders, those who serve on the elder board without pay, could discuss staff wages. The staff elders were dismissed so that those who do not collect a paycheck from the church could talk about how to best honor those who do without a conflict of interest.
Some of the men who were dismissed continued visiting with one another in the parking lot as the sun set.
Logan Long, a member of Faith’s Aspiring Men program, attended the meeting. When asked about the benefits of attending these meetings, Logan said: “Being able to see [the elders’] heart and how they’re devoted to prayer, devoted to God’s Word, and seeking to be in unity is encouraging and is a sweet model to be able to look at, especially as a younger man.”
“…it opens up more input from the people who are visiting, just giving them a chance to encourage us and to speak into what we are thinking about as elders.”
Nathan adds that those who visit the meetings not only receive encouragement, but are an encouragement to the elders as well. He says, “The activities of looking at the Word together related to shepherding the church, praying for the church together, talking about the business of the church and how we’re pursuing our mission together: Those are all things that hopefully would be an encouragement to anyone who comes. At the same time, it opens up more input from the people who are visiting, just giving them a chance to encourage us and to speak into what we are thinking about as elders.”
Personally, I could not help but walk away from the two and a half hours spent with the elders without feeling immensely encouraged. Other visitors and I were allowed to participate in the prayer groups and accountability. The elders show a strong desire to communicate to the body with love, clarity, and transparency, reflecting a humble heart collectively. They labor to make sure that the church is well-equipped to be a part of the body and to impact their families, neighbors, and co-workers.
Most notably, the elders of Faith bathe everything in prayer, and that is an amazing example to the flock.