Road Trip

by Jeff Stone 

Do you remember when, as a child, your school would load up the students onto buses and go visit a museum or some other destination of educational value?  The location change from the familiar classroom setting seemed to stir excitement and generate fresh learning.  Just as that experience energized your class, a road trip can accomplish the same synergy for your elders.
 
Periodically, our team of elders leaves our familiar conference room and takes our meeting time together on the road.  We’ve gone to conferences, men’s events, visited Bible colleges, supported area revivals, and have concluded that different surroundings stimulate new perspectives.  Often while en route, we enjoy a meal together and the conversation riding together while in the vehicles is most productive.  Perhaps the greatest value we’ve discovered from taking a road trip is simply the value of spending time together as a team.
 
The elders at my previous church in Dublin, Ohio received a prayer request from a new Christian man, deeply concerned about his sister’s diagnosis of an aggressive cancer.  Not content simply to add her to the prayer list, we piled into two cars after a work day, drove 2 ½ hours to where she lived, and prayed fervently with her and her husband.  Twelve years later, Tracy is still living and she, her husband, and her brother remain eternally grateful to those elders who went on a prayer road trip.
 
The Bright elders had learned of a faithful minister who was abruptly let go from the church he served in a far-away state.  We prayed for him in our elders’ meeting and collected a love offering of $300 to provide some assistance to his family.  We continued to pray for God to provide him a new place to do ministry.  We rejoiced when God relocated him to our state, to a church within an hour from where our epicenter of intercessory prayer had occurred.  After he settled into his new role, we went on an elders’ road trip to attend on a Sunday morning where he was leading worship, after which he was able to meet and personally express his thanks to some brothers who had helped to “hold his arms up” (Exodus 17:9-13).
 
More recently, the elders at Bright went on a road trip to attend Gary Johnson’s final service as the Lead Minister at Indian Creek.  Gary has been an e2 coach to our church and we wanted to be there to support and encourage him as he completed thirty years at the Creek and would begin the next day to pour his total efforts into the global impact of e2.  We were blessed by worshiping together as a team and were nourished by the entire service.  Spending those hours traveling and worshiping together with each other was enriching to all of us.
 
Do you see the solid benefits that await your team of elders when you begin to add this dimension to your meetings and experience the advantages of periodically taking road trips together?  Let me challenge you to try to incorporate a road trip into your team’s plan in the very near future.  The variety will break the mundane “Meeting Merry Go Round” and unleash God’s Spirit to work through your elders via some new opportunities.
 
I’d love to hear about a road trip that your elders have taken!  Happy Highways!

40-Day Prayer Calendar for Pastor Search

Full-color PDF to download and print:

Pastoral Search Calendar 

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Viewable on this page: 

A 40-Day Prayer Calendar for a Pastoral Search
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
  Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6
Day’s Reading: Proverbs 3:5-7 Revelation 2:1-7 Ephesians 4:1-6 John 15:1-8 John 15:9-15 John 15:16-17
Prayer for/that: …our congregation to trust the Spirit’s leading; that our leaders, especially, would listen for Him and trust His prompting. …our congregation to return to her first love, Jesus; that our leadership would hear from Him clearly during the search. …our congregation to continue in unity and peace; our leaders would strongly sense among themthe unity that only Jesus can bring. …our congregation and leaders to always abide in Jesus & bear much fruit to God’s glory during this “in-between” time. …the people of our congregation to remain in Jesus’ love for and with each other; that we and our new pastor would be bound together by Him. …this interim season of ministry to continue bearing spiritual fruit glorifying God; that our leaders would see answered prayers in their  lives.
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Day 7 Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12 Day 13
Psalm 139:23-24 Ephesians 6:10-11 2 Timothy 2:1-2 James 1:5-8 Colossians 1:9-12 Ephesians 6:18 Acts 2:41-42
…our leaders’ hearts would be pure while working through this search process; that our future pastor’s heart and life would be pure before God. …we would understand searching for a pastor is primarily spiritual, therefore spiritual attacks will come; for God’s protection while we search. …our future pastor & family to be strengthened by God’s grace; that our future pastor would be a spiritual example worth following. …our leaders to seek and experience God’s wisdom while reviewing resumes and contacting candidates. …our future pastor be convicted it’s God’s will to make a ministry transition; that God would be glorified by ALL – by us, by candidates, by people “left behind.” …we would pray in the Spirit and not just from our own agendas; that we would persevere and be alert to God’s answers to our prayer. …our congregation would reflect the 1st church’s health in discipling, prayer, ministry, worship, fellowship, and witnessing.
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Day 14 Day 15 Day 16 Day 17 Day 18 Day 19 Day 20
Revelation 3:14-22 John 13:34-35 Ephesians 3:20-21 Psalm 51:10-12 2 Timothy 4:1-5 Hebrews 13:17 Joshua 1:9
…we would all fight spiritual apathy, we would continually repent of lukewarm spirituality, and pursue both God and the lost with zeal like Jesus. …our leaders to be obedient to Jesus’ command to love each other; that His love would be seen in us by the lost and watching world. …the power of Jesus to be known in and through this church body and that all the fame, credit, glory would be His through this search process. …each person in leadership would stay close to Jesus, hearts cleaned by Him; that our new pastor also have a clean heart before God. …our new pastor to faithfully share the Word of God and the love of God. …our new pastor to faithfully lead & love the people of this body and of the Church; that we rise up with new leadership & serve alongside. …our leaders to be strengthened by God and sense overwhelmingly His presence and guidance.
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Day 21 Day 22 Day 23 Day 24 Day 25 Day 26 Day 27
Revelation 3:1-6 James 4:1-12 John 17:20-23 2 Timothy 2:15 Jeremiah 33:3 2 Kings 6:14-17 Colossians 3:12-17
…us to hold firmly to the message of Jesus; that our congregation would be full of the life of the Spirit & enabled to pursue God’s vision for us. …we would always humble ourselves before God; that He would bring revival to us as we draw near to Him. …unity in our body so the world will hear the Good News of Jesus through us; that our leaders would remain united in decision-making. …a pastor who rightly handles and teaches the Word, and our search team as they look for such a leader. …us to feel a deep and urgent drive to pray for God’s will to be done in our search and for God’s vision for our church to be realized. …we would see as only God can enable; that our steps would be directed by God; that we would have His protection. …our congregation to grow in love toward each other; that any broken relationships in the church would be reconciled.
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Day 28 Day 29 Day 30 Day 31 Day 32 Day 33 Day 34
Revelation 3:7-13 Romans 12:12 Hebrews 10:19-25 1 Peter 5:1-4 1 Peter 5:5-7 1 Peter 5:8-9 Ephesians 5:15-16
…God to open doors for us and that we would see such open doors; that we would persevere and non-believers would see God’s love on and in us. …we would be confident in the hope God gives, patient when we encounter hurdles in the search, and faithful in prayer as a body. …we remain committed to biblical worship; that our leaders would boldly go to into God’s presence in worship, seeking wisdom. …our future pastor to lead people in God-honoring, biblical ways; that our future pastor’s walk with Jesus would not falter. …deep respect, an attitude of serving and great mutual humility between our congregation and future  pastor. …our congregation would be alert to the activity of the [one & only] enemy and pray for other congregations engaged in pastoral searches. …our leaders’ meetings would be Spirit-directed, time spent effectively & efficiently; that God would reveal His will to our new pastor.
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Day 35 Day 36 Day 37 Day 38 Day 39 Day 40  
1 Timothy 3:1-7 Ephesians 1:15-23 Philippians 2:1-11 Galatians 6:9 Isaiah 55:6-9 Matthew 28:18-20  
…our new pastor would exhibit the character of Jesus in public & private; the new pastor’s family would have God’s favor as they transition here. …our new pastor to grow in the wisdom & knowledge of Jesus; that our church would look to Jesus alone as the Head of His body. …Jesus’ attitude of humility & serving soaks into us all – leaders, people, pastor – both during and after the search. …our leaders would not be weary in their work because we know and see God’s hand in answered prayers and the “harvest” that only He gives. …we would continue seeking God diligently and trust that He alone is bringing together our body and our future pastor. …our congregation always embrace our Great Commission; that our future pastor will be such a leader, doing the Great Commission, an example that we eagerly follow.  

People of the Book

by Gary Weedman 

Two of the early slogans in our Stone-Campbell tradition were: “Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent” and “No book but the Bible.”  Yet, for such a people of the Book, where is the Bible in our public worship?  I fear that it is all too absent.  A few years ago, I talked to a young married couple, raised in the Christian church, who had migrated to a more liturgical denomination. I gently inquired as to the motivation for such a move.  Their response: “We miss hearing the Bible in worship.”
 
The public reading of Scripture has always been an important part of corporate worship.  After a long period of absence of the Scriptures in worship, Josiah (7th C. BC) “read … all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 23:2).  Imagine – a worship service that consisted of the reading of the entire book of Deuteronomy!  The event launched a mighty reform throughout the Kingdom of Judah in behavior and devotion. 
 
A similar phenomenon occurred in the 5th Century BC as Ezra led a large group of exiles from captivity in Babylon to Jerusalem.  He read from the Law “from early morning until midday … and the ears of all the people were attentive” (Nehemiah 8:3).  The result was, once again, a great religious awakening.
 
This emphasis on public reading continued in the synagogue.  Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah (now chapter 61) and declared himself as the fulfillment of the text that very day (Luke 4:21).
 
These readings were considered an act of worship and not merely preparatory to the main event.  So, when Paul advised his delegate Timothy to “give attention to the public reading of Scripture” (1 Timothy 4:13), he was merely affirming the accepted practice of the early church adopted from their roots in the synagogue. 
 
A powerful demonstration of the power of the oral impact of Scripture is the dramatic presentation of the Gospel of Luke by Bruce Kuhn, a Broadway actor.  Through a dramatic recitation of this Gospel from memory, the impact is remarkable.  Although I had read Luke for myself and have written about large portions of the Gospel, I “heard” aspects of the Gospel for the first time.  For example, I had never “heard” how many times that Luke records Jesus and others saying, “Fear not.”  Those who heard his presentation can never read Luke the same.
 
Elders can lead in the restoration of the public reading of the Bible in contemporary worship.  We have the tradition of Jewish worship, the practice of Jesus, and the admonition of the apostle Paul to support such practice.  May we once again be a “People of the Book.”
 
What, then, can we do?  A few suggestions: 

  • Restore the ancient practice of Scripture reading in worship, preferably a substantial portion from the Old and the New Testaments.  There are many examples of weekly readings available from the Internet and from church history.
  • Make these readings a celebration of the presence of God and not merely a perfunctory preface to the sermon.
  • Create a ministry team of readers whose work is the reading of the Scriptures in worship and who learn the role of public reading of the Scriptures throughout the history of the church.
  • Use varied reading presentations, such as a leader with response from the congregation, two or more persons reading together, or a choral reading.
  • Promote Scripture memorization and recitations through church programs like Bruce Kuhn’s. 

E-L-D-E-R-S

by Gary Johnson 

Seven years ago, almost to the day, e2 incorporated as a non-profit parachurch ministry!  We thank the Lord for His great grace towards us, thank Him for the past seven years while trusting Him for seven more … and then some! 

As e2 celebrates her seventh anniversary, we look back over recent years and think about our conversations with 6,000+ elders at our conferences.  Time and again, conversation turned toward the same few topics.  Like cream rising in milk, we noticed elders talking about similar challenges in one location after another.  From coast to coast, in congregations both brand new and long-established, small or mega in size, these recurring themes capture the attention of elders and staff.  After thinking about this phenomenon, we have summarized these recurring concerns into six challenges. 
 
What are these six challenges?  We can remember them by thinking “E-L-D-E-R-S.”
 
E – Evangelism 
Some 250,000 churches in America have plateaued or are declining.  Why?  They suffer mission drift, failing to “seek and to save the lost.”  If elders are not leading by example and personally bringing spiritually lost friends and family to Christ, don’t expect the rest of the congregation to do so. 
 
L – Leadership
Conflict abounds between staff and elders.  Power struggles are alive and well.  We must work to turn our dysfunctional leadership teams into healthy teams.  This requires intentional forgiveness and humility.
 
D – Discipleship
Regretfully, far too many people are merely growing old in the faith and are failing to grow up – to become increasingly like Jesus.  As elders, we are to make disciples who make disciples, beginning with ourselves.  We must strive to become more spiritually mature today than we were yesterday – and help those around us to do the same.  After all, Jesus told us to do so. 
 
E – Equipping
The equipping of current elders must happen.  Stop doing the same things our grandfathers did when they were elders, while expecting different results.  We need to learn new leadership skills, raising the bar of our effectiveness.  Do you have an elder development plan in place and are you working the plan?  If not, why not?
 
R – Recruiting 
With the leadership pipeline running low, it is essential to recruit the next generation of elders.  We at e2 continually encounter churches with two or even just one elder in place.  Moreover, many churches fail to have elder candidates “on deck and ready to take their turn at bat.”  How do you identify potential elders with leadership skills and a calling to serve in this manner, and how are you preparing them to lead?
 
S – Structure 
Healthy bones make for a healthy body.  Similarly, a healthy internal structure of the church makes for a healthy church.  Let’s look and operate more like the New Testament Church and less like the federal government.  Stop nominating and electing people to specific “offices” with terms.  Is it time to rewrite the by-laws and structure the church as described in the New Testament? 
 
At e2, we help churches face up to these six challenges.  We’ve assisted hundreds of elders in dozens of churches to address each of these concerns.  How can we help you and your team?  Give us a call or drop us a note.  It would be a privilege both to hear from you and to help you. 
 
Coaching Elder Teams to Win

 

12 Mistakes Dead Churches Make

by Barry Cameron 

Every year thousands of churches unfortunately close their doors. Why? Because they kept doing things that did them in. Here are some mistakes dead churches make.

Dead churches erroneously believe …

1. Growth just happens.  They mistakenly believe growing churches are nothing more than the result of being in the right place at the right time.  Even the perfect garden in the perfect place won’t stay perfect if you just walk away and leave it.

2. You can have evangelism without evangelists.  In other words, you can reach the lost without ever having anyone in the church actually reach out to the lost.  They believe you can win souls without soul winners.  That’s why they die.

3. You can have progress without change.  They want to grow.  They really do.  They just don’t want to change.  They don’t want any new people taking their parking place, seat, or place of leadership in the church.

4. You can have success without sacrifice.  They want growth and don’t mind the cost as long as someone else pays it.  They’ve convinced themselves great things can come about without any price being paid or pain being experienced.

5. God will bless in spite of sin and unholy living.  They believe God will bless in spite of how they live.  Obviously, there have been no in-depth studies of the lives of people like AchanSamsonDavidAnanias and Sapphira to name a few.

6. First-class facilities, grounds, printed materials, programs and activities aren’t important.  In a dying church, members often think ripped and worn out carpet, parking lots with cracks as wide as the Grand Canyon, burned out lights, poorly designed, typo-riddled programs, landscaping resembling a tropical rain forest, equipment from the 50s, etc., doesn’t matter to the unchurched.  The fact is, people who demand excellence in the cars they drive, homes they live in, and places where they do business, won’t accept less than the best from the church they attend.
 
7. Leaders don’t have to be tithers.  Their leaders lead by the motto: “Do as we say, not as we do.”  Most people would be shocked to learn how many leaders don’t tithe in dying churches.  Their “weakly” giving is just that.  That’s why their church is dying.

8. By-laws, budgets and board meetings are really important.  They are constantly beset by the big “Bs”: By-laws, Budgets and Board meetings … as if those things somehow impart the supernatural, providential blessing of God.  Growing churches focus, instead, on the Bible.

9. The Pastor and staff work for us.  They see their Pastor and staff as official employees who are paid to do the work of the church.  The Bible teaches the opposite.  In fact, the Pastor and staff are to equip the saints “for the work of the ministry.”   

10. Being traditional is spiritual.  People in dying churches think “the way we’ve always done it,” is somehow holier than attempting something new.  They forget the time-tested traditions of today were cutting edge “new” things of the “good ‘ole days.”

11. The world cares about our doctrine.  They mistakenly believe their beliefs will bring more believers.  Few unchurched people even know what doctrine is.  We ought to have the right doctrine for sure.  However, just having the right doctrine alone won’t grow a church

12. There’s always next year.  They have no sense of urgency.  Growing churches are passionate, enthusiastic and urgent about everything.  They pursue ministry every day, as if they don’t have the promise of tomorrow.  Because they don’t.
 
Neither do we.