Field Notes – 12/12/T
“Gratitude teaches us to reward to the utmost of our power those who have toiled and risked and sacrificed themselves in our service and for our benefit.” (Matthew Henry)
“Our elders meet formally twice each month. We have a “prayer” meeting on the first Tuesday and a “business” meeting on the third Tuesday. We try to pray at our business meetings, too, though not as extensively.
At the prayer meeting, we share known needs in the church, including our own needs as elders, then we spend the rest of the time praying for those requests and praying through a chunk of the church membership list.”
“Many church leaders perceive elders’ meetings to be strictly off-limits to the members themselves. This may be the case when particularly sensitive matters are being discussed.
But normally it may be wise to allow a few people to sit in and just observe.
As you recognise young men who have solid Christian character, public teaching gifts, who are initiating with other individual members for their spiritual good, and who are active in the corporate life of the church, invite them to observe the elders’ meetings.
Let them know that they should do so silently.
But let them know that it might be a good opportunity for them to see what it looks like for a group of godly men to lead spiritually and discuss matters that touch the direction and vision of the local church.”
Keeping watch will involve asking questions about the flock.
“Is anyone struggling with discouragement?
Is anyone lonely or isolated?
Is anyone drifting away from Christ?
What are patterns of attendance at church?
Anyone missing recently?
Is anyone toying with unbiblical doctrine through a recent bestselling paperback they bought?
Are the widows’ needs being met?
Are any faint-hearted, shrinking back from some course of action God commands?
Is anyone suffering medically?
Are there any sick people whom the elders should visit and pray over as James 5 instructs?
Are there broken relationships in the church needing reconciliation?
In facing all these various conditions, the elders are seeking God’s wisdom in understanding what is the wisest course of action: does the individual need instruction? Encouragement? Admonishment? Rebuke? Correction? Praise? If so, which elders would be the best to give the needed ministry? Who is specifically going to do what and by when?”
“How do the elders ensure all sheep are cared for?
A few ways:
We work and pray name by name through the church directory over the course of a year in our elder meetings… Before a meeting we email everyone on the list and ask for prayer requests. If someone cannot be accounted for, an elder will be assigned to pursue it.
We have one service that meets in one site. You wouldn’t believe how much easier it becomes to notice who is and is not present… We also stand at the doors after the service so we can greet who comes and goes.
We regularly encourage our members to recognise their responsibility for one another. if someone has not attended in a while, hopefully the members are “on it” well before we are.
Our work is to equip the saints to disciple each other. Beyond that, a decent share of an elder’s time should be spent pursuing the one who has wandered off from the 99. Don’t think you must divide your time equally.”