Much has been said over the years regarding elders. More will surely follow. I'm in year 34 of a special Memorial Drive tenure. It has been a rocky trip paved with both tears and joy. I have needed every bit of the difficulty and deserved none of the overjoy.
Having experienced approximately seven variations of elder teams, I hope to have learned a few things along the way. I choose to share such should it be valuable to your work.
The major shift for good began when Memorial called men to shepherd us who thought alike. Before, we had teams of elders who did not have the same philosophy and direction. They were continually at odds and a divided congregation most naturally followed suit consistently.
We could not get to the work at hand for putting out fires and enduring countless long meetings filled with frustrating argumentative anger. Throughout the years we have had a variation of teams and each one that possessed inner division saw identical fruit in the body.
Ironically...one of the things voiced most from the divisive clusters was, We may oppose one another in this room, but when we go out there we are one voice. It didn't happen because a few would get with their cronies to complain about how things "weren't" going. And then the next meeting would find the insertion, We may not agree in here, but when we leave this room, we are one.
Wishful thinking. Not true. Kept the church frustrated.
For the last several years, Memorial perpetually experiences new light and life. Compassion for the ailing has found regeneration. Openness to the Spirit finds great presence. Gifts embedded in one another form a body of workers together rather than against one another.
This has come about--not because of preaching and not because of effective marketing--because our shepherds over the years have had the same philosophy and mutual respect. Yes, each is different.
Yet, the annoying egocentricity isn't present. Their approach to the Word and the Work is naturally one because they are not only biblical brothers; they have grown to become spiritual friends.
Due to this power of our elders, divisive uprisings within the flock don't survive for they find no elder in their camp. We are all camping as a family. Our staff is a unique and special team. Our congregation is sweet of heart and growing in Spirit. We are experiencing God day by day and the gate that allows us to go in and out is that of our shepherds...for they think the best they can like the First Shepherd.
Elders--my experience--are either of the Law or of the Spirit. The first will stagnate and kill a congregation. The latter will allow the Breath of Life to flow among the flock.