November/December 2012, Volume 9, Issue 6
Do you want to know, like, the coolest thing? I live in a city where there are lots of powerful people. Big timers, you know. And some of those big timers show up in our church on Capitol Hill—the movers and shakers. So do the people who work for those big timers—the schmoozing and the sweaty. What’s cool about that? Nothing. What’s cool it that these positions are not exalted in our church; being an elder is! The office of elder is held up and given honor. Praise the Lord, right?
You might be a journalist, a lobbyist, a congressional staffer, an army general, or a partner in a law firm. But in the social economy of the church, none of that matters. What counts is your character and knowledge of the Scriptures. Ambitious young men enter the church, but if they have Holy Spirit-softened hearts, they begin desiring different things. They come to D.C. driven to succeed, but somewhere along the way they become ambitious about leading a small group, sharing the gospel, showing hospitality, helping the hurting, and teaching God’s Word, even if it means sacrifices to their career. I could name dozens: Chris, Bill, Scott, Eric, Michael, David, Dave, Randy, Steve, Papu, Sebastian, Klon, Greg…want me to keep going?
I am not talking about the men who leave their careers to enter vocational ministry. I am talking about the men who remain in their careers, but who begin to shepherd anyway. These are the men I admire so much. They move from the big prestigious firm to the small peripheral firm; they take the pay cut; they let themselves get passed over for promotion. Why? Because they love the sheep, and they cannot help but spend the time it takes to shepherd sheep.
This issue of the 9Marks Journal and the next are devoted to these men: lay elders, or the pastors that a church doesn’t pay, because they do all their work in the evenings and weekends. In this issue, Jeramie Rinne and Sebastian Traeger lay out the basic expectations for the job. Garrett Kell and Michael McKinley offer counsel on raising up such men within the flock. And Garrett, Steve Boyer, and I offer a few thoughts on equipping them once the work has begun.
In January, we will come back to address the relationship between staff and lay elders, the besetting sins of lay elders, building unity and friendship among the elders, and other practical matters. Stay tuned!
— Jonathan Leeman
BASIC EXPECTATIONS FOR LAY ELDERS
Okay, you’re an elder. So now what are you supposed to do?
By Jeramie Rinne
Job + family + ministry = a serious time crunch for the lay elder. How can he navigate it?
By Sebastian Traeger
TRAINING LAY ELDERS
How can you raise up elders for your church? Train men in content, character, and competence.
By Mike McKinley
Ever feel like you have no business playing teacher because you’re still a student? The gospel reminds us that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
By Garrett Kell
EQUIPPING LAY ELDERS
To set your new elder up for success, get him a brother, some books, and a budget—then put him on a billboard.
By Garrett Kell
What Demas, Judas, the Pharisees, and King Saul teach us about how (not!) to serve as elders.
By Steve Boyer
Giving away authority is one of the best ways to grow leaders and a gospel culture in a local church. Here’s a profile of a pastor who does it well.
By Jonathan Leeman
How pushy should we be in our evangelism? Do we have to earn the right to share the gospel? Mack Stiles and a few friends discuss.
Posted on November 1, 2012
Church membership is different and more important than you think, says Jonathan Leeman in this 9Marks Workshop message.
Posted on October 1, 2012
Here’s Jonathan Leeman’s introduction of this issue:
Church discipline is one place where everything in a church’s life collides. Theory and practice collide. The doctrines of God, sin, judgment, redemption, and eschatology collide. Sometimes personalities collide. And, hopefully, sin and grace collide.
This means that practicing discipline well requires good pastoral and theological sensibilities. So we’re devoting a second eJournal in a row to the topic, both to exercise our own sensibilities and yours. Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert provide counsel on what to do before you practice discipline. Matt Schmucker, both in his new article and in the one from the archives, offers advice on dealing with the non-attenders. Stephen Matteucci considers the importance of the one or two witnesses in Matthew 18. And I tackle the question of whether a member can resign his or her membership in order to avoid discipline altogether.
Finally, several pastors recall lessons they’ve learned the hard way in the forum, where Bob Johnson states the conclusion of the matter well: discipline in a church should be as normal and regular as preaching, teaching, and evangelism. That’s a tough idea to accept, and one more reason we think it’s worth coming back to this issue yet again. May Christ’s bride be made ready.