Not long ago I began the elder-candidacy process at Redeemer Fellowship and in August will begin as the Executive Pastoral Assistant. As the Executive Pastoral Assistant I will continue to be trained, mentored, and guided by the elders and specifically shadowing Pastor Joe Thorn.
During my elder-candidacy I will function as a shepherd, but also focus on systems, management, communication, and implementation of the church's mission and vision as a function of being the Executive Pastoral Assistant.
First and foremost, an elder shepherds the people. They offer pastoral care, pray, meet, and disciple the members of the church. People are not numbers on a stat sheet, but loved and cared for. A true shepherd of God's people knows the sheep closely, seeks to protect them, and to encourage them in their faith.
Not the most riveting conversation piece but essential to the life of the church. There is this mentality in our current church culture that goes against anything that smells of structure. They believe the church is to be "organic" and free flowing (whatever that means) if it is to stay true to the early church we see in Scripture. There is truth that the church started out organically, but it still had structure. Jesus set people, the Apostles, in place and even reminded Peter to "feed my sheep." People that want less structure usually gravitate towards a numerically smaller sized church. Nothing wrong with that. Smaller churches are suited better than larger churches to be organic and less structured. As a church grows more and more structure and systems are needed to help support not programs of the church, but to better shepherd God's people. The early church faced this as well:
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." Acts 6:1-4
As the early church grew, structure and systems were needed to properly shepherd and care for the body. Systems are not about the programs themselves but are intended to first and foremost look after the needs of a growing church.
There is much behind the scenes that goes into the life of the church. From budgeting, planning, children's ministry, bulletins and the coffee bar, many people are serving those within the church, their neighbors, and their Lord. All the programs that make up the church need accountability to ensure that its on track with its intended purpose, guidance in times of trouble, and oversight. I will look to help to ensure that all the programs are well staffed and properly serving the church.
As a church grows, it becomes increasingly more difficult to keep everyone in the loop. A smaller church can get away with a morning announcement and bulletin. Because of peoples schedules, it takes intentional planning to strive to have everyone aware of what is going on. This can be multiple announcements, multiple publications in the bulletin, utilization of social media, and weekly email blasts. Yet, people will still say that they were not aware of a prayer meeting, business meeting, or Women's Ministry event. Regardless, I will continue to look for ways that everyone is informed on what is going on in the church, and the direction that the church is going. People need time to process and to be invited into the conversation. As a church grows, more lead time should be given before any major changes to ensure that everyone has time to sort it out.
Implementation of Church Mission & Vision
Every church seeks to glorify God in all that it does. It looks to magnify His goodness and to be a witness of His grace and mercy to those who do not know Him. Each church though has a different "flavor" of how it goes about it. Like any healthy organization, there needs to be a clear purpose for its existence. A tangible goal that invites individuals to join in and serve the Lord in this way. Without a mission and vision, a church is like a ship without a rudder, no direction, no control. I will help to ensure that everything the church does is filtered through the mission and vision.
During my candidacy, with God's grace, I will first seek to shepherd and care for people. They help help in offering pastoral care to a growing church body and looks to encourage and challenge them in their faith. For some that are not accustomed to have an individual specifically focused on these areas it may be difficult to see the need. The need is for better caring for God's people. As the church is growing, I will seek to lay better a better structure so individuals do not "fall between the cracks." As well as to help manage the already existing ministries, communicate effectively the direction of the church, and to implement the church's mission and vision.
Looking for more? Check out Elder Candidacy Process