An Elder Update
Posted March 6 | Rev. Blair Waddell
I wanted to take a brief moment to update the church body on what the elders have been doing over the past three months. In regards to our recent troubles, our assistant pastor was asked by a member ‘How did we get here?’ While that is not a bad question, (as hindsight is always 20/20) a better question might be ‘what are we doing within our own abilities to make sure an event like this does not happen again?’ This is what the elders have been working towards in our most recent meetings. The first step was to get educated on the pressures and pitfalls facing those in full time ministry. To do this we have been reading through Paul David Tripp’s most recent book, Dangerous Calling. In addition to the book, we gathered for a Saturday workshop to watch Dr. Tripp’s presentation of the material on DVD. The elders and pastors have had great dialogue about the dangers and unrealistic expectations of those placed in the ministry, particularly the desire that most pastors have to withdraw when they don’t feel like they are living up to what they are teaching. All are sinners saved by grace and needing that grace each day- including pastors. Together, we have learned to continue to do our ministry in awe of God. The material has been eye opening and has taught us how to be accountable to one another, not just in sexual temptation, but in all avenues of our lives. The elders have also been armed with questions to ask the next pastoral candidate and his wife. They have learned to do this not to place a yoke upon the pastoral staff, but to be a blessing by protecting the personal integrity of those in full time ministry.
Second, the elders have been working toward implementing policies that will protect the pastors. This will mean a few changes to how we do ministry in the future. Our operational elders have been tasked with implementing and enforcing a time-off policy for our staff. Good ministers want to serve, the problem is they don’t always know how to say ‘no’. Not only does that create fatigue, but it also inhibits the time ministers need to spend cultivating the gospel within their families. The operational elders will also be having windows installed in the doors of pastoral offices for maximum accountability. Our shepherding elders will be checking up on the spiritual oversight of our pastors. They will ask the ‘hard questions’ to make sure we are growing in our personal walks with God. The shepherding elders have also been tasked to implement a policy on how our male pastors should appropriately counsel women. All of these changes are necessary to the spiritual health of our pastoral staff. While they might be inconvenient for some, (whether that’s a staff member telling you that your request can’t be accommodated because of the time off policy or a minister needing to take precautions when counseling you), they are meant to be a blessing overall to the church. Once they are implemented, we respectfully ask that you abide by them.
Finally, we ask that you continue to lift our elders up in prayer. We see some exciting opportunities that the Lord is laying before us, but those opportunities also come with challenges. For example, we will be having another elder’s retreat day in two weeks. Please pray for this event. Please continue to pray for us as we minister to you. Please pray for our families as well. May we be found worthy as we ‘shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you.’ (1 Peter 5:2 (ESV))