by Lynn Laughlin
My father, Ernest Laughlin, was the minister of the West Side Christian Church in Springfield, IL. At the time, 1950-60’s, the attendance was about 1,000. My father worked hard at developing a strong eldership through what we now call mentoring. He was convinced that for any church to be effective, the eldership had to be faithful and healthy. Through the years at West Side, he was supported and blessed by a committed group of elders. They backed him when he suggested that new congregations needed to be established in Springfield. They encouraged him when he promoted the idea of a three-story Christian educational wing, which became the home for the Christian Day School K – 8, and is now called Springfield Christian School.
As my father provided the vision for such endeavors, these men, with one accord, saw the value not only for West Side, but for the community. They responded faithfully and spiritually to bring about constant growth for the Lord’s Kingdom. They demonstrated the character of Christ over and over. When my father developed Parkinson’s disease, they gathered around to help in any way they could.
My dad went on a Holy Land trip which was scheduled to go through several countries before arriving in Israel. Unfortunately, he suffered a nervous breakdown in Italy and was unable to continue on the trip. God provided. A young lady, whom my father encouraged to go to Bible college, had chosen to become a missionary to Italy and had been in Bari, Italy for 10 years. She was able to go to Rome, pick up my father and take him to Bari. When the elders became aware of this, they immediately talked with my mother. They planned and paid for my mother and younger brother to fly to Bari so they could spend the summer there to help my father recuperate, which he did.
Words are inadequate to express my gratitude for these elders as they were a constant blessing to our family. The reason that I am writing this is to provide an example of what a group of dedicated Christian men can do for the sake of the Kingdom when they stand together in one accord. Not only was this camaraderie godly and Christian in itself, but it allowed a congregation to see men place a high value on integrity and faithfulness in action as they responded to the needs of the staff of the church.
May we all, as leaders, work diligently to uphold the concept of eldership as portrayed in God’s holy Word.