Brothers and Sisters in India

by Gary Johnson

Greetings from India!  As I write, we have just completed our first-ever international elders’ conference. We joined CICM (Central India Christian Mission) to provide focused teaching on this critical subject. Dr. Ajai Lall, a close friend and brother in Christ, invited e2 to share for three days. The conference was recorded and will be distributed to their 3,000-plus churches across India and in neighboring countries. Hundreds of church leaders attended from both India and neighboring nations.

Dr. Ajai said that this is the first time, in the thirty-six-year history of the mission, that elder-exclusive material was presented for their church leaders. Not only will the videography and transcripts be provided to their thousands of church plants, it will also be utilized in their undergraduate and graduate curriculum in CIBA, their Bible college. An evangelistic zeal is present here, with tens of thousands of people coming to faith in Jesus. Many of these churches are new plants and are desperately in need of spiritual leaders. Moreover, there is a great deal of horrific persecution of Christians in India. Please pray for these leaders to be boldly and compassionately courageous as they advance the kingdom of God in a nation of more than one billion people.

We met one brother who has been walking for hours on a regular basis into an extremely remote village sharing Jesus. He has been privileged to pray over some of the children in the village and seen God miraculously heal them. Please pray for Brother E. as he brings Jesus to people who don’t know Him. Likewise, we heard from other Christians and ministers who have been disowned by their Hindu families, persecuted viciously by [former] “friends” and neighbors in the province of Orissa, and others who have continued to boldly proclaim the Good News in the face of death threats. Our Christian brothers and sisters shine the light of Jesus in a spiritually very dark place.

Thanks to many of you who prayed for us, and to those of you who gave financially to make this trip possible. In particular, we thank – once again – CDF Capital for their generous support that enabled this conference to take place. CDF Capital believes in and encourages elders across the country – and now around the world – by their generous partnership with e2.

In many ways, e2 is becoming a movement of leaders around the world who are determined to lead well.

How to Shepherd

by David Roadcup 

One of the foremost elders of the church, the Apostle Peter, gives us a clear picture of our role as elders.  In 1 Peter 5:1-4, Peter he states:

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,  shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;  nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 

Paul also makes clear that our main role is that of shepherd.  We are to manage, lead and cast vision.  These roles are all important to an effective elder team.  But we should be focused first and foremost on our role as shepherd

In smaller churches, the role is hands-on, up close and personal.  In our mega-churches, elders oversee webs of relationships in the church (small groups, Sunday School classes, ministry teams [i.e. Praise Team], etc.).  In larger churches, elders should manage the task of making sure that the thousands or hundreds of people who attend the church are being shepherded in an effective way. 

Whether the church is small or large, elders are to be shepherds.

What does this look like in today’s church?  Here are a few suggestions that might bring clarity to our role:

1)      We are to be visible to our flock.  In a smaller church, this is no problem.  Everyone knows who the elders are.  In churches of 300 and up, it is possible that many in the church don’t know who the shepherds of the church are.  Finding ways to make our shepherds visible to our congregation would help this problem.  Having elders introduce themselves before they lead in prayer in worship services would be good.  If your congregation uses an invitation song in worship services, why not have elders up front at invitation time to receive those who come forward?  Having elders (and maybe their wives) in the lobbies of our buildings at worship times, proactively connecting with people before and after services, would allow contact and connection with those in our flock.

2)      We are to be prayerful for our flock.  One of our main ways to shepherd our people is by offering intercessory prayer on a daily basis for our people.  We should pray daily that God’s blessing, Presence, protection from temptation and peace should be upon the lives of our people.  Our children, teens, college students, singles, married couples and senior saints all need the mantle of prayer that we provide as shepherds.  When we daily intercede for our people, we are spreading a covering of protection over our flock.  Remember, brothers, prayer makes a difference.  Let us protect our people daily by lifting them up in prayer. 

3)      We are to be involved in shepherding activities.  Today’s church growth research indicates that any person, leader or layman, can only connect with significance with approximately 60-80 people in the congregation.  If this is so, as an elder, I know I can touch at least that many people through various means.  As mentioned previously, leading a small home bible study group, teaching a Sunday School class, playing in the Praise Band, etc. are all ways (plus many others) that we can establish relationships and connect with people.  It is an absolute “must” that we are touching people at the grass roots level as shepherds.

Elders, following in the steps of our Lord Jesus, Peter and Paul, let’s shepherd well.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change Agents

by Mark Taylor 

How do you feel about change? 

It is the universal experience of seeing things today that are so much different than they were just a year or maybe even a week ago.

Some people love change.  They redecorate their living rooms, trade in their cars, or cycle their wardrobe regularly.  They’re never satisfied with the way things are, always looking for something better.

Some people avoid change.  They don’t want to spend the money to buy new.  They don’t want to learn how to use something different.  They’re comfortable with the way things are.

Where do you fall on the continuum between resisting and craving change?  Your answer may say a lot about how you approach your ministry as an elder.

Embracing Change
We live in an era of unprecedented change.  By the time we understand one sociological trend, another has taken its place.  By the time we figure out how to use our smartphone or web-enabled TV or self-parking car, a different version is on the market.  And sometimes older folks like me yearn to retreat from the pace of change and just resign ourselves to the fact that the world is passing us by.

Of course, that’s not the attitude for a leader.  Leaders anticipate, embrace, and initiate change.  Leaders know you can’t build a house without digging up a foundation.  You can’t grow a crop without breaking up the dirt.  You can’t rear a child without constantly buying him larger shoes and shirts.

We can’t reach our communities for Christ with the same programs, building, church staff, or strategies created ten, twenty, or thirty years ago.

Do you talk about change in your elders’ meetings?  Who suggests them – the elders or minister?  How do you cope with suggestions for rearranging or rethinking how you do ministry?

Every group of elders must face the fact that leading and supporting change is part of their responsibility.

Leading Change
Five years ago, Jon Walker, minister with Willowbrook Christian Church in Victor, New York, shared a formula for coping with change.  It had been offered by an elder in his congregation.

R = A/T ± S

The formula reads this way: Resistance to change equals the Amount of change, divided by the Time before the change, plus or minus Salesmanship; A and T should, if possible, cancel out.

If your church is changing what brand of coffee it serves at the welcome center, you’ll probably not encounter much resistance.  The Amount of change is small.  But if your church is moving from one side of town to another, you may experience major resistance, because this is a huge change.  In this case you need to allow plenty of Time between when you announce the change and when it happens.

You’ll use that time to carefully explain the rationale, patiently listen to objections, and thoroughly answer questions. People need time to absorb all the good reasons for making the change.  Leaders will wisely allow for all this interaction and not demand that the church follow them just because they’re called “leaders.”

During that period, the elders’ role is crucial.  That’s when they’ll use their Salesmanship skills and encourage church members to agree with the proposal.

If you don’t like the connotation of “salesmanship,” then let the S stand for Shepherding.  Your role in leading change is to keep the flock together, go after strays who want to wander off in a different direction, and counsel and correct members who willfully resist their leaders.

Facing Change
Some facts about change:

  1. It’s almost always difficult.  By nature, people like things to remain comfortable and familiar.
  2. It almost always brings conflict.  The most vocal among the resisters will challenge, campaign, or complain.
  3. It is absolutely necessary if a congregation is to grow.  The seedling in your hand today cannot become a mighty tree if it remains forever in the same small pot.

To make these changes possible, a congregation needs elders who are not afraid of change, leaders who will prayerfully seek God’s guidance about which changes to make now.  Your role as an elder is carefully and lovingly to lead your congregation to welcome the changes that will advance the Gospel in your community. 

No Rungs

by Stuart Jones 

The American Dream continues to challenge and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds.  Motivated by the ascending rungs of the corporate ladder, employees seek to rise to the next level of success, while supervisors seek to rise to the next level of recognition.  The beauty of the system is the seemingly limitless opportunity for achievement and advancement.  In some parallels, these same motivators challenge the Church to fulfill the mission laid before us by Christ himself.  Battling complacency and constantly pursuing excellence promotes God-honoring advancement of His Kingdom on Earth.

However, within the church leadership structure adopted by most congregations, ladder rungs that mimic the American Dream have the potential to bring about a “holy nightmare.”  As we read Scripture, we discover key positions and roles that should structure the local church.  Searching the text, we can find the role of deacon defined as those who are called to action with spiritually-enlarged hearts for service.  Elders – shepherds – are defined as the pastors or overseers that God calls to lead a congregation.  And sprinkled throughout Scripture, we find the roles of staff or ministers who professionally direct and lead areas of ministry.  These Scriptural definitions hold throughout time and governance.  But their placement, interaction and value have suffered unfortunate alterations through the lens of the American Dream.  

The American Church has embraced a corporate ladder mentality of leadership that typically flows in ascending order from volunteers to deacons to elders and staff.  Those seeking to find success and advancement within the church, and within the Kingdom of God, are encouraged to strive for the next rung of the ladder.  For example, great volunteers are challenged to become deacons, while deacons are simply waiting to become elders.  This hierarchical structure for leadership does not exist in the New Testament!  Did some deacons become elders?  That seems probable.  Did some elders become staff?  That most likely defines the “elder of double-honor.”  Yet, churches falsely assume that the expectation for achievement and advancement through the leadership roles is implied in the New Testament leadership structure.  It is not. 

Instead, the New Testament highly values those who accept the roles they are gifted and called to perform.  Deacons are men who implement and complete the ever-growing tasks and needs of the church.  The role of deacon or high calling of servant leader is not a steppingstone to pastoring or overseeing a congregation.  Those who bring action to the ministry of the church and those who bring wisdom to the ministry of the church are often two very different groups made up of very differently gifted individuals.  Church leadership structures often create a progression of roles and titles that may very well inhibit the God-given gifts of individuals within the church.

Will many deacons become strong elders in a church?  That transition does often happen.  However, we cannot assume these are the next steps in the American Faith Dream.  Many who are gifted in implementing and accomplishing tasks and projects are needed as servants and doers for the duration of their time on this earth.  The time that deacons serve does provide an opportunity for the church to gain trust and confidence in their leadership potential.  However, the value of servant leadership must not be perceived as an inferior rung to shepherding leadership.

Paul said, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?  If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?” (1 Cor. 12:17). We apply these exaggerated questions to the congregation as we seek out volunteers.  However, we seem reluctant to equally value the multiple leadership layers of the church.  If all elders became deacons, who would spiritually guide the church?  If all deacons became elders, how would anything ever get done?  “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Cor. 12:18).  Leave the corporate ladder on the ground and celebrate the leaders God has placed in your church, exactly as He wanted them to be.

Elders Encourage Church Staff

by Rick Lowry 

The relationship between a church’s senior minister and her elders is a frequent topic of discussion in leadership circles.  But what about the connection between the elders and the associate ministers? 

Elder-associate interaction is often determined by the size of the church or the church’s philosophy of ministry.  But here are some general principles that apply in most leadership situations. 

Develop a personal relationship.  Most associates feel supported when an elder takes time to show a loving interest in them and in their ministry area.  An elder can be an ally, not just an authority.  Some eldership teams annually assign individual elders to specific ministry leaders, who then get together with them regularly and offer encouragement.   

Make sure elders and staff are like-minded about the direction of the church.  The church leadership team should have a handful of forward-thinking values and visions they have agreed on, and every leader should support those ideals.  If the leadership has agreed about the philosophy of any given ministry in the church, individual leaders can confuse associate ministers if they promote their own agenda privately with a staff member.

Get involved in their ministry.  Elders are a great benefit to their staff members when they get involved in their ministry.  Not to check up on them, but to intentionally take a sincere interest.  And of course, the best way to get involved is to volunteer for needed ministry roles in their area.

Appropriate Financial Compensation.  If they are full-time, make sure their family can thrive.  It’s hard for a guy or gal to completely focus on their ministry if they are always worried about the financial health of their family.  And in these days of staff looking more like a team and less like one main figure in charge, compensating an associate on the level of a senior minister is often appropriate.  If the associate minister is part-time, expect them to work only the number of hours they are being paid for.  Many conscientious associates quietly work full-time hours for part-time pay.  Elders can and should play a key role in protecting them in this regard.

Allow their voice to be heard.  Associate staff members often feel powerless.  Decisions that affect their ministry are sometimes made without consulting them.  In many settings, it is not possible for associates to be a part of the key leadership team, but creative ways can be introduced to get their input.  Invite them to key leadership meetings a few times a year.  Or have their team leader on staff brainstorm with them and then take their ideas to leadership meetings.  It may also be beneficial to have a trusted elder talk with an associate minister before a decision that has the potential to alter something in their ministry area.

Confront Privately, Support Publicly.  Wise elders handle complaints about associate staff members in an appropriate way.  Confronting a member of the staff in the presence of church members, or even in a meeting, can be harmful. Concerns should initially be expressed in a private setting.  Associates need to be perfectly clear about who their supervisor is, and that person (or persons, in a team setting) should be the final job performance authority for them.  A staff member who receives conflicting input from a variety of individual elders and staff members, especially when it is negative in nature and aired publicly, can be left confused about who they really need to listen to and what they really need to do.  Confronting an issue one-on-one will help the person to hear and understand the substance of the critique with better clarity, and without being defensive or dismissive.

The way elders relate to associate ministers and staff can be one of the most powerful ways they lead the flock – by serving the flock.

How Not to “Elder”

by Brad Dupray

First Timothy chapter 3 is the usual, “go-to” passage for elder qualifications.  It begins, “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of an overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.”  Then Paul goes on to give a fairly specific list of what many would call the “musts” of being an elder.
 
For some reason, Titus 1 has become sort of the backup list.  Once we have exhausted I Timothy 3 it’s almost as if we say, “Oh yeah, Paul had something to say to Titus about this, too; guess we should take a look.”
 
Personally, I have a greater appreciation for Paul’s exhortation to Titus.  Certainly there are some things that are redundant between the two passages (“above reproach,” “husband of one wife,” “not addicted to wine”) and there are many things that are similar but the wording is slightly different (e.g., “free from the love of money” in Timothy, “not fond of sordid gain” in Titus). 
 
Paul’s words to Titus are less of a “list” and more of a teaching moment.  Paul uses his letter to Titus to ascertain some things that not only come as “requirements” for an elder, but what it takes to be a good elder – or not so much.
 
For example, an elder must be a good man.  As Paul begins his teaching to Titus he indicates two times that an elder must be “above reproach” (verses 6 and 7), and as he comes toward his conclusion in the second verse of chapter 2 he concludes with the same theme: “temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.”
 
Where Paul diverts from his teaching to Timothy is when he talks about what an elder should not be.  Verses 10-16 of Titus 1 tell us how not to be an elder in the church of God:

  • Be a false teacher – “empty talkers and deceivers…” (v 10) “who turn away from the truth” (v 14).  He calls these teachers “defiled and unbelieving” (v 15), which tells me I don’t want to be a man like that!
  • Be racist – Paul is astonished in verse 12 that one who calls himself a leader in the church would make evil assertions about Cretans.  When he writes “this testimony is true” in verse 13 he is not endorsing the ugly statements about Cretans; he is making reference that it is beyond belief that an elder would say such thing about people of another race.  The “testimony is true” that “empty talkers and deceivers” must be rebuked.
  • Create havoc in the church – He warns in verse 11 against elders in the church who “teach for the sake of sordid gain.”  There were men who were “upsetting whole families” by the things they were teaching.  An elder has to remember James’ admonition: “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment (James 3:1).”  Paul had told Timothy an elder should be “able to teach;” he here elaborates on that to Titus.

 As chapter one comes to a close Paul says that men like this “profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him.”  He says they are “detestable,” “disobedient,” “worthless!”  Paul doesn’t simply wag his finger at these men who divide the church, he says in verse 13 to “reprove them severely.”
 
Opinions vary on whether the lists provided by Paul should be understood as checklists versus guidelines.  But I think there’s one thing we can all agree upon and that is an elder is a role model to the church and when he deviates from being above reproach he not only offends the bride of Christ, he offends the savior Himself.

More Prayer = Shorter Meetings

by Randy Boltinghouse 

Our elder leadership team meets twenty times over the course of a year, typically twice a month for two hours.  During the first hour of our meeting, we pray over each of the prayer requests made from the previous Sunday’s communication cards.  Furthermore, all of us have the same daily devotional book which we read between meetings then share on the evenings we meet.  A rotational schedule assigns each elder the opportunity to lead both the devotion and prayer time.  After praying, sharing scripture, and reflecting on the devotions, it’s been an hour, leaving an hour for congregational matters.  Our meetings consistently end at the two-hour mark.  
 
We have a policy governance system which delineates the responsibilities of the elder leadership team, the senior minister, values, vision, limitations, etc.  Policy governance streamlines what decisions need to be made and by whom.  When needed, we have spirited discussion over necessary issues.  All decisions are by consensus.  Our policy governance serves as “good bones” supplying structure, discipline, and an operational unity that results in leadership alignment.
 
That said, I don’t believe it’s enough to have “good bones.”  We need an environment of spiritual nutrition and brotherly warmth entrusted to God and His Word.  Paul wrote about this in his parting words to the Ephesian elders: “I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).  A proper understanding of biblical eldership involves shepherds who, when they gather, do so to consume the Word, seek to be built up by it, and then strive to remind each other from it that in Christ they are heirs with the saints of all God has promised.  How can any meeting of the elders go wrong when such a spirit dominates the room?  

I’m convinced that prioritizing prayer and the ministry of the Word are what keeps our meetings unified, efficient, on schedule, and spiritually nourishing for each elder.  One of my priorities as senior minister is not only to encourage each elder toward the work of the Lord but to see that the Lord’s work nourishes each elder.  Starting each meeting with prayer, Bible reading, devotions, and spiritual reflections ensures unity, love, and a brotherly affection among the shepherds of the flock.  Our elders tell each other that our meetings are a highlight of the week; a spiritually enriching small group time.  Sometimes the agenda changes in the meeting itself because one of the elders (or the senior minister!) has a heavy heart, needing conversation time and prayer.  What that means is that the other elders will rise from their seats and surround the one in need, praying fervently with the laying on of hands.  This does not mean we do not have difficult conversations.  Nor does this mean we won’t process through differing points of view.  It means that the difficult conversations situate themselves in a larger context of loving, truthful, prayerful Christian unity.  It means that differences are discussed in a gospel tone of grace and truth.  Such unity spreads out through the congregation, contagiously affecting the church family.  Christ-honoring elderships lead to Christ-honoring congregations.  

When our elders meet, we don’t come representing the interests of the church.  We come foremost to represent the interests of our Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  We come to build one another up in Him.  Our brotherly unity touches the entire church family.  If your meetings are consistently running more than two hours, they’re probably too long.  So if you want richer, more effective meetings, pray more. 

Tale of 2 Ministries

by Dave Thurman 

Charles Dickens penned one of the most memorable lines of English literature in the opening of his A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…”  He was describing two metropolitan areas – London and Paris – separated by a little over 200 miles.  Ministry often tends to be that way for those who serve.  But as I look back at my first two full-time ministries, one filled with difficulty and frustration, the other full of joy and fruit, it is easy to see that the elders made the greatest difference.  As a baby-faced preacher who desperately wanted to reach the lost and disciple people, it truly was “A Tale of Two Ministries.”

In my first ministry I served a small congregation in Northern Kentucky.  I was twenty-two and my bride just twenty, still a student at Cincinnati Christian University.  For the sake of transparency, I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I prepared sermons and preached with passion, tried to comfort the afflicted and call members to a higher level of commitment.  But along the way I received little to no encouragement from the elders, who saw it as their job to keep young bucks from creating too much chaos.  The preacher before me had been fired, and there were days I thought I was right behind him.  It wasn’t that the elders were bad men – a couple of them became friends – but together they saw themselves only as supervisors, not shepherds, and as I tried to be innovative and make some needed changes, they beat me down.  It impacted my marriage, as a beautiful young woman saw her husband under attack.  Being stubborn and inexperienced, I tended to fight back, which of course, only made things worse.  Thanks to a sweet elderly couple who lived next door and took us under their wing, we survived and the church grew.  But it was a rough introduction to located ministry. 

Three years later, I accepted a call to Marengo Christian Church (Indiana), just 24-years-old, and only slightly less wet behind the ears.  Immediately I found that the elders were my biggest supporters, wanting me to succeed.  They held me accountable, but more than anything, we prayed together, envisioned what the church could become, and in the next 8 years the congregation doubled, reaching more than a quarter of the town’s population.  Two men in particular, each with unusual names, Novy Andry and Revis Crecilius, coached me up, showering me with love.  Many elders’ meetings ended with all of our leaders on our knees for in extended prayer.  They valued me, my wife and our kids, and it was, in many ways, the best 8 ½ years of my life.

So, what made the difference?  Sure I was a little older and more seasoned.  I walked in the first day with a better plan and a bit of wisdom.  But most of the difference was in the MO of the elders I served with.  In one congregation, I was a partner in ministry; in the other, just a hireling. 

Elders: never underestimate the impact of your leadership.  You set the tone for the entire church – preacher included – and the most talented preacher in the world will only succeed if you come alongside him, build him up, and lovingly guide and correct him. 

Earlier this year I returned to Marengo, 32+ years after that first call, to conduct the funeral for Novy’s wife, Colleen.  It was a beautiful day, and I had the opportunity to tell Novy what a gift he’d given me as a young preacher.  He shepherded our family.  The Andry house was always open to us.  Novy came in person to have hard conversations one-on-one.  He loved me like a son.  That simple man, who worked on a line at Ford, did more to make me a successful preacher than he will ever know. 

Lead well, brothers.

Adopted

by John Caldwell 

I was literally moved to tears when I read a front-page article in the Indianapolis Star on November 25.  It concerned a 17-year-old girl who had just been adopted after 4,057 days in foster care in 36 different placements.  That’s over 11 years since she was removed from her very abusive biological parents at six years of age.  Nearly 1,000 other kids in the system had been adopted while she waited.  Her hopes had been raised again and again only to be dashed in disappointment.  Then, while living in a group home, she met Mike and Patty at an adoption event.  When they met again she told them, “When I got back to the group home, I was hoping you guys wanted me, because I wanted you guys.” 

I was hoping you guys WANTED me…”

When she moved in with Mike and Patty on a trial basis it was hard to believe it would last since she had been hurt so many times before.  However, on November 16, it became official.  She was now their daughter, a part of their family.  Furthermore, she legally changed not just her last name but also her first name because it had been given to her by her birth parents – whom she doesn’t want to remember. She’s a new person, with a new name, a new family, and a new home.  She’s ADOPTED!  Wow!!!

One of my favorite praise choruses is Hillsong’s “I Am Who You Say I Am.”  The words to the bridge of that praise song always move me: “I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who you say I am – You are for me, not against me, I am who you say I am – You are for me, not against me, I am who you say I am – I am who you say I am.”  But one of the other things that God says to me is that, “I am an adopted child of the Most High God.”

There are many names, titles, or descriptions given in Scripture for the Christian.  Here are just a few: believer, saint, blessed, child of God, chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, disciple, redeemed, saved, set free, reconciled, and so many others.  But after reading Scarlet’s story (her old name) “adopted” will always have a very special meaning for me.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent Him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that He could adopt us as his very own children. (Galatians 4:4-5 NLT, emphasis added)

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ.  This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:5 NLT, emphasis added)

It is also significant that when Scarlet was adopted, she put her old life behind her and took a new identity; not unlike when we “died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (Romans 6:4 NLT)  

Scarlet had said to Mike and Patty, “I was hoping you guys wanted me, because I wanted you guys.”  The incredibly good news is that we never have to wonder with God.  He wanted to adopt us in advance, and both proved it and made it possible through sending His “only begotten Son.”  And that, my friends, is the GOOD NEWS that we get to share with the world!

Leading with Style

by Rick Chromey 

Every elder leads with style. 

Some elders are active leaders.  They like to be in command and want to get work done.  Some elders are passive leaders.  They prefer working from the shadows, watching and waiting until the time is right.  

Some elders lead emotively.  They work from their hearts, leading “randomly” with a focus on people.  Some elders lead cognitively.  They manage from their heads, operating more sequentially and focus upon tasks.  

Consequently, four different leadership personalities emerge (and you are one of them).

 Active / Emotive:  The Game Show Host

Game Show Host elders are inspirational leaders.  They are delightful, gregarious, daring and charismatic.  Their active nature creates energy and their emotive connections spark attention and affection.  They make decisions through hunches and measure success by applause.

But Game Show Hosts also carry liabilities.  By default, they are not planners and are often undisciplined.  They dislike details, schedules, lists, and deadlines.  Their randomness frustrates sequential leaders (Chefs and Stage Managers) and this disconnect creates conflict related to their spontaneity, riskiness, tardiness and messiness.

Active / Cognitive:  The Chef  

Chef elders are confident leaders.  They enjoy taking the lead and cooking up flavor.  They are decisive, reliable, organized and practical.  Their active nature puts legs underneath dreams and their cognitive nature creates recipes for success.  Many chefs are master communicators and visionary leaders.  They make decisions through highly-developed intuition and measure success by completing the mission.

But Chefs aren’t perfect.  They can easily become rogue or lone ranger leaders.  They can thrive in conflict and heat, which irritates the other styles.  They don’t always care about hurt feelings or disgruntled people.  Their high expectations – for others and themselves can create an environment of perfectionism and workaholism. 

Passive / Cognitive:  The Stage Manager

Integrity is the heart of a Stage Manager elders.  They don’t need the stage or spotlight to influence change.  Rather, these elders operate to the side with well-designed scripts to ensure the work is a success.  They are thoughtful, disciplined, cautious and efficient, economical leaders.  Their passive nature naturally brakes for change, especially with abruptly-conceived visions (frustrating Game Show Hosts) and disagreeable ideas (angering Chefs).  Stage Managers want every decision to be measured and reasonable.  Consequently, they make decisions on the facts and gauge success by security and rationality. 

Stage Managers are not without flaws, however.  They can stall good plans, resist positive change and by stymied by “analysis paralysis.”

Passive / Emotive:  The Counselor

The Counselor personality is an elder who leads with compassion.  These sensitive, people-focused, tender leaders are always seeking compromise, resolution and interaction.  Their passive nature makes them bristle at conflict and their emotive sensibility drives them to nurture relationships.  They are dependable, diplomatic, relaxed and patient to a fault.  They make decisions based upon consensus and measure success by general feelings of goodness, forgiveness and positivity. 

This idealism, however, can create issues for Counselors.  They can crack under pressure, avoid risks, disengage, disappear without notice, and grow frustrated with conflict.  Counselors don’t want to leave anyone out, behind, or down.

Every great and working eldership will include each of these personalities. 

We need Game Show Hosts to lighten the mood, inspire change and motivate people.  We need Chefs to craft vision, challenge assumptions and move the church forward.  We need Stage Managers to monitor change, calculate risks and create concrete plans. We need Counselors to resolve conflicts, show compassion and generate interaction. 

No one style is better than another and like the parts of the human body, every personality contributes something to the cause.  One final thought: an eldership that’s top-heavy in one style will prove dysfunctional. 

Too many Chefs spoil the broth (as every chef prefers their own agenda).  With too many Game Show Hosts, nothing will get done (since detailed plans and deadlines are necessary for success).  Too many Stage Managers will stall the organization (because every stage manager wants everything “perfectly perfect”).  Too many Counselors and there will be chaos (as consensus rule is naturally messy). 

The best eldership will feature all four styles. 

And that’s a winning combination.