THE ELDER AS SERVANT Michigan District LCMS Webinar for the Board of Elders February 20, 2013 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who…made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” - Philippians 2:5, 7 OPENING PRAYER I’M AN ELDER… 1. “A joy for me this past week was…” 2. When I was elected to be an elder, I was… 3. A word that describes how I feel about being an elder is… 1. LIFE AS AN ELDER ELDERS SERVING GOD ELDERS SERVING GOD Five typical functions of elders: • Provide leadership • Show wisdom in stressful situations • Provide evaluation and encouragement for the pastor(s) • Visitation of members • Initiate programs of spiritual growth ELDERS SERVING GOD Elder considerations: • • • • • • • • • Provide leadership Filled with the Holy Spirit Strong spiritual influence Always “in the Word” Asked, not volunteer Basic enthusiasm Concern for quality of ministry Clear ministry descriptions Grasp of imputed worthiness ELDERS SERVING GOD For discussion: • What is your greatest joy in serving as an elder? • What is your greatest frustration in serving as an elder? • What spiritual gifts have been distributed among the elders in your congregation? • What makes you “worthy” to serve as an elder? • What is the role of an elder to members of the church? ELDERS SERVING GOD For discussion: • What is the relationship of elders to other officers? • What are congregational issues that properly belong only to elders? • What is the role of elders in church conflicts? • How can elders handle criticisms / objections to church programs? 2. ELDER / PASTOR / STAFF RELATIONSHIPS ELDERS SERVING PASTOR ELDERS SERVING PASTOR Help the man • Be a confidant • Be a support for personal / family needs Develop a caring relationship Develop a trusting relationship Develop personnel policies (vacation, days off, etc.) Develop salary guidelines Pray daily for pastor and family ELDERS SERVING PASTOR Help the leader • • • • Support the ministry Communicate ministry to congregation Communicate successes and obstacles Welcome and encourage diversity but commit to unity in purpose Test with Scripture Inform and invite participation Be faithful with information Publicly support pastor ELDERS SERVING PASTOR Help the preacher • Test with Scripture • Test for proper Law/Gospel balance Know and be faithful to Scripture Know and be faithful to Lutheran doctrine (Confessions) ELDERS SERVING PASTOR Help the congregation • • • • • Meet regularly to carry out responsibilities Share evaluations of goals and expectations Train regularly for better service Be an ambassador Serve alongside pastor as appropriate ELDERS SERVING PASTOR For discussion: • How do elders provide care for members of the staff? • How can pastors especially use elders as a support and confidential group? • How do elders function as evaluators of staff effectiveness? • How can elders function with ineffective staff? • What are the spiritual needs unique to professional church workers? 3. ELDER SPIRITUAL CARE ELDERS SERVING CONGREGATION ELDERS SERVING CONGREGATION The elder as a man of prayer: • Matthew 6:5-14 o Not outward piety (v. 5) o Not validated by specific words (v. 7) o No lack of information (v. 8) o Mark of a mature disciple (v. 9) o Corporate needs in mind (v. 9) o God-centered (v. 9) o Submits to God’s will (v. 10) o Spiritual focus (v. 11) o Forgiving attitude (v. 12) o Combat the satanic (v.13) ELDERS SERVING CONGREGATION Factors impacting prayer: • • • • • • • • • • Boldness (Hebrews 4:14-16) Familial language (Galatians 4:6) Authentic (Psalm 27:8) Blocked by unrepented sin (Psalm 66:18) Faith-driven (Matthew 21:22) Rooted in Christ and the Word (John 15:7) Ask in Jesus’ name (John 16:24) Submissive to God’s will (1 John 5:14-15) Brings glory to God (John 14:13) Confident in God’s power (James 5:16) ELDERS SERVING CONGREGATION Elders serve • As an o o o example Faithful in worship Frequently at the Lord’s Table Diligent in Bible study personal group o Servant-leader ELDERS SERVING CONGREGATION Elders serve • • • • • • Within the priesthood of all believers With humility As requested In prayer In person In worship Don’t “lord it over them” Provide personal care Be aware of needs and situations Share resources Both active and inactive ELDERS SERVING CONGREGATION For discussion: • • • • • How are elders assigned to members? (geographically; alphabetically; lifestyle; other) Do elders make home visits? • If so, why and how often? What other means are used for communication with members by elders? What are the purposes of various member contacts? Do elders make “pastoral care” visits? •(hospitals, nursing homes, funerals, etc.) ELDERS SERVING CONGREGATION For discussion: • Are elders used to “push” certain congregational needs or programs? • How are elders used when new people join the church? • When is one classified “inactive”? • What is your program of ministering to inactives? • What if the inactive wishes to remain inactive? • What is done with members who move without a forwarding address? • How are snowbirds handled? CONTINUING THE DISCUSSION… RESOURCES FOR ELDER BOARDS: The Caring Elder by Victor Constein (CPH) Pastors and Elders by Timothy Mech (CPH) Expanded Elder training / equipping workshop by CMFs THE ELDER AS SERVANT God’s richest blessings as you serve Him and His people in your awesomely important role!