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