Posts Tagged ‘traditions’

A journey for me began early in 2016 with a passing comment by a certain brother named “IB” to the effect of: We should make you an elder. Alas, the trajectory of his life would change shortly after making that comment, so that passing remark passed into oblivion. A few notes of that tune would be faintly echoed by another elder but would be cut short by his cryptic song of fear. It resurfaced again last September as a side effect of a sudden event at our church. A few months later, I was explicitly asked if I would consider joining my church’s elder team. After much delay, the day finally arrived this past Saturday at a church members meeting. It was rather anti-climatic actually given the long wait (truth be told, the journey actually began in 1982, but that’s another story).

But it was anti-climatic in another, more important way.

First, let me preface my explanation with some helpful background comments from Dr. Benjamin Merkle, in his helpful article, Should Elders Be Ordained? where he writes (emphasis is mine):

The laying on of hands is often associated with the appointing or commissioning of someone for a specific office or task.  …

Prayer and fasting is also associated with the selection and appointing of leaders. The apostles followed the example of Jesus who prayed all night before choosing His twelve disciples, the apostles (Luke 6:12–13). …

The New Testament never uses the word “ordain” (in the modern, technical sense) in connection with a Christian leader who is installed to an office. Thus, it is often misleading to use the term “ordain” in our modern context if one has in mind the biblical concept of publicly appointing or installing someone to an office. Today, the word “ordain” carries with it the idea that special grace is transferred through the act of laying on of hands. … The New Testament does not teach that those chosen to lead the church are “ordained” to a sacred, priestly office. It also does not teach that only so-called “ordained” clergymen possess the right to preach, baptize, conduct the Lord’s Supper, or pronounce a benediction.

It is the church’s duty to recognize those whom God has set apart for this important duty.  …

Thus, to be appointed to the office of elder implies that a man has met the biblical qualifications, has been called by God, has been approved by the congregation, and consequently has been publicly recognized as one who holds that office. It does not necessarily imply that he works full-time for the church or has been to seminary. Rather, it means that God has called and gifted a person to humbly lead the church.

He makes some confusing comments about titles and office which are not convincing to me, and which, in any case, have no bearing on my concern here.

Merkle concludes by saying,

Elders should be “ordained” if by ordination we simply mean the public recognition of someone to a particular office and ministry. Perhaps a more appropriate, and biblical, term is “appointment” or “commission.” The appointment to a ministry was often accompanied by prayer and fasting and the laying on of hands. These public acts draw attention to the seriousness and importance of the appointment. In addition, elders should be appointed as soon as they take their office.

Alright. I am now ready to explain why the big day was anti-climatic.

First of all, I hope that the current elders earnestly prayed and fasted (individually and together) about the matter before making their selection. Secondly, the process was not as public as it could have been. The elder nominees were announced in bulletin and briefly mentioned, but there was no exhortation that the congregation can (and should) question the curent elders and the nominees if they have any concerns. Lastly, on Sunday, the new elders were not even announced; given that only half the membership attended the members meeting the previous night, it would have helped to reinforce the solemnity of the commission to elderhood if they laid hands and prayed for the new elders. As Merkel said, “These public acts draw attention to the seriousness and importance of the appointment.”

I shouldn’t have to say this, but it’s not about me wanting to get my 5 minutes of fame in the spotlight: that’s the last thing I want!  Rather, it would have been nice to have all the elders up at the front as a display of unity, and more simply, so that the congregation knows who the elders are! Anyhow, I am humbled to serve alongside my fellow shepherds and pray that I can be a blessing to them and to the flock.

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Gendered Groups

I’m with Nikki on this one — I’ve never cared for gender segregated Bible study groups:

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