An Elders’ Forum
We asked all the non-staff elders of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, “Thinking back to when you first became an elder, what initial lesson(s) most stand out in equipping you to elder well?” Here are their answers.
Randy Alles (Officer, U.S. Marine Corps)
Elders in the New Testament are called to pastor and to teach those in the church, which will equip the saints to build up the body of Christ (Eph 4:11, 1 Tim 3:2). These are key responsibilities often overlooked in the day to day grind of operating a church but to me are of utmost importance. Pastoring and teaching enables church members to develop a maturity in the Lord so they are less vulnerable to strange doctrines, the trickery of men, and deceit. All of this brings glory to the Lord and benefits the believer.
Bill Behrens (Special Advisor for Commercial and Business Affairs, State Department)
What has most prepared equipped me to serve this congregation as an elder is the congregation itself. It is here that many humble saints cared for me and modeled Christ, where I sat under great teaching, where I was first discipled, and had the opportunity to serve and teach others.
Steve Boyer (Controller, Salvation Army)
The importance of prayer stood out to me early after becoming an elder. The responsibility to care for so many members impressed upon me my utter dependence on God. Beginning our elder meetings with a healthy time of prayer reminded me that elders are to be devoted to praising God, inquiring of God, confessing to God, thanking God, and pleading to God in prayer according to His will. Then watching for how God fulfills his promises in the lives of members of the church by sanctifying us is one of my most treasured joys, as I see the Holy Spirit tangibly working in our lives.
Jamie Dunlop (Research Director, Corporate Executive Board)
1. The importance of a regular ministry of prayer on behalf of those in our church who are hurting.
2. Learning from other elders the art of asking kind, gentle questions.
3. The importance of listening well to other elders, recognizing that many situations are not as they appear.
4. Recognizing that all Christians (even elders) struggle and are in constant need of encouragement (Heb 3:13).
5. The usefulness of advance planning of one’s calendar—being strategic with people outside of regular discipling relationships.
6. Knowing that no elder is “up to the task” of eldering. We’re all acting in weakness and without sufficient wisdom, depending through prayer on God to accomplish his work through us.
Brian Fajito (Co-founder, Manas Development Group)
First Peter 5:2-3 for me was a recurring lesson. God in his grace has called us as elders to be shepherds of his flock (not ours). We’re called to lead in humility and to serve as examples. If we are to serve well as elders, we need to continually remind ourselves that there is no place for pride in light of the cross of Christ, and we must heed Paul’s instructions to Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely” (1 Tim. 4:16).
Michael Griffin (Senior Program Analyst, Office of the Director of National Intelligence)
There are several lessons I learned when I first became an elder that I still rely on today. First, I was struck by how we always begin each difficult issue with the Scriptures, working outward to the practical application and policy derivation. Second, sitting among godly brothers in Christ, I learned how critical it is to listen carefully to each other and be slow to speak. Finally, I was (and still am) overwhelmed with the desperate need to undergird everything we do with prayer—for unless we are led by God, it is all for naught.
Jim Hollenbach (President, Simulation Strategies)
Although Mark Dever has gifts, knowledge, experience, and a well-earned reputation that far exceed those of us around the table, he trusts God’s plan for local church leadership by a plurality of elders and so humbly submits himself to the elders’ collective wisdom. When I find myself thinking, “I’m right even though I’m in the minority,” God’s promises and Mark’s example encourage me to defeat this sinful pride and joyfully accept the decisions of my fellow elders.
Papu Sandu (Senior Litigation Counsel, Justice Department)
One of the clearest lessons was a greater understanding of just how important prayer is to the ministry of an elder, both individual prayer and praying with the other elders. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve with such godly and prayerful men, and that has made quite an impact. A second lesson is the need to cultivate a deep and fervent love for the members of our congregation; a love that earnestly desires to see them prosper spiritually. That, I think, is central to the work of an elder, and one that my brothers have modeled so well for me.
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