Editor, Christian Chronicle
Oklahoma City, OK 73136-1100
To the Editor:
I appreciate the intent of the article in the July issue entitled “Principles for Conducting Elders’ Meetings.” Many good thoughts were expressed — the need for proper, kind-spirited conduct among brothers (particularly elders) and encouragement to focus on spiritual shepherding rather than wasting time on trivialities, to name two. It was well said, too, that an elder is not a tyrant, nor an arbitrary dictator.
I do question, however, the basic assumption of the article: though communication about certain matters is often needed and appropriate, the human invention called the “elders’ meeting” has often been misused — it is a servant-become-master.
Are there not shepherds who can and will lead and guide by powerful, kind, consistent, godly example rather than through a means (the meeting) by which they actually function more as behind-closed-doors directors? Must the local Elders make decisions in order to carry out their God-intended roles? Should they?
There was no “exclusion of the eldership” clause in Jesus’ directive not to lord it over each other. In other words, elders have no privilege (or curse!) of being masters over other brothers and sisters simply because of their function. (Note the absence of the term “position.”) I find pitifully little implication that in the first century there was any collective functioning of elders. Yet we have created the word “eldership” and have assumed that operation should be corporate rather than individual. Just some food for thought…
Sincerely and for Him,
The above letter was written nearly 25 years ago. I would say the same thing today.
If there are any elders reading this: on the way to your elders’ meeting tomorrow or Tuesday night or whenever, please consider how you might encourage all the elders at your church to put more eggs in their individual shepherding “baskets,” perhaps meeting as a corporate executive board less often and freeing up more time to become more personally involved in lives.
P.S. I’m not much of a holiday guy. Although Easter is particularly well attested and important (much more so than Christmas) to most Christians, and although I generally have some extra feelings and passions at this time of year, I don’t necessarily think Easter Sunday deserves much more attention than any other Sunday. Still, for those who have read this post with disappointment, wanting something more directly about Jesus, I offer this link to a worthwhile post I’ve read: The Right Charge.