Some readers may feel this week’s articles don’t apply to them.
“I’m not an elder, and I’ll never be one.”
“I sometimes wonder what happens in those elders meetings, but not enough to think about how they could be better.”
“Governance? What is elder governance? We just approve the bills and try to keep the preacher on the right track. Governance is too fancy a word for what we do in our monthly meetings.”
But think carefully about Don Green’s ideas andGary Johnson’s experience, and you’ll see that elder governance can revolutionize how a church functions. It can unleash a congregation’s potential and equip many Christians to serve. What elders do—and don’t do—can make all the difference in a church’s ability to be salt, leaven, and light. And that is a concern for every member.
We focused on the “light” idea with that row of matches illustration. Too many local congregations are like unlit matches—full of potential, made up of members ready to serve, but hindered because all the light is coming from just a couple candles shining from the platform up front. Elder governance organizes a church to spread the light from the leaders to many members eager to do their part.
This happens because elders decide to equip and trust others to do the ministry. This week’s writers carefully point out how this is a biblical approach. God never commanded elders to treat their preacher as a hireling. God never said elders must write the budget or approve the teacher for the Primary Sunday school class or decide who mows the church lawn. This week’s writers help us understand that elders are not shirking their responsibility by delegating such decisions to others who can make them.
The point of this is not to limit the elders but to liberate them for the ministry only they can accomplish. Perhaps it is easier to serve the church’s widows than to give oneself to “the ministry of the word of God” (see Acts 6:1-7). But it is not more biblical.
For most congregations, these articles can be a starting point for changes that will set a church on fire for God. Their authors have graciously agreed to help you take next steps. Brother Green is keeping a list of congregations who have moved toward elder governance. Brother Johnson, along with two other associates, has written books and is conducting seminars to help elders reconsider their ministry.* We urge your church’s elders to keep and discuss these articles and to contact these men for more help. Adopting elder governance is a step that can encourage and equip every church member.
*Contact Don Green at firstname.lastname@example.org. See all the resources Gary Johnson and his associates have put together at www.e2elders.org.