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Thursday, January 01, 2015

Inbox: A New Year’s Challenge to Elders Everywhere

My partner in crime Immanuel Can is, like many other masked men, currently vacationing in Parts Unknown.

But in the interest of giving you all a break from another day of … well … me, I offer IC’s rather thought provoking list from last week which may have gone unremarked in the comments section of a previous post.

I consider this not so much a general rebuke to elders as what seems to me to be a fairly useful checklist. IC and I both know elders who do the job wonderfully.
Some questions for elders serious about making sure the Christians in their charge are really learning:

1.    What do our people know about the Lord and His word right now?

2.    What do our people not know or do right now?

3.    What ought to be our priority to teach in our overseeing of the feeding of the flock?

4.    Which of the available strategies we could utilize (sermon, guest speaker, Sunday morning classes, study group, home study, Bible class, video material, modelling, diagramming, work project, conference, retreat, personal study plan ... and so on) would be most effective in moving people from knowing these particular things they do not now know to understanding them well?

5.    How will we (the elders) find out if our people really are learning and benefiting from the way we’re teaching? How will we know when they really understand and start to apply what we're teaching?

6.    How can we further modify our methods to improve the edification of the local assembly if we happen to find out that in some area they’re not really benefitting, growing and being edified as we had hoped?

My thought here would be that this sort of process would be the minimum a group of elders would want to undertake if they were genuinely serious about their responsibility to oversee the flock and feed the sheep. After all, what shepherd wouldn’t ask, “When did the sheep last eat?” “When will they need to eat again?” “Where is there some good food?” “How will I know when they are healthy and well fed?”

And “What do I do if some are looking a bit hungry or sickly?”

Right now, though, I wonder if the most common question on elders’ minds isn’t “Who’s going to do the sermon?” And this is a question they don’t even have to ask if they’ve already bought themselves a ‘pastor’.

So maybe the place some elders might need to begin is to ask themselves, “How long has it been since we even asked ourselves what our people do or do not need?”
Happy New Year!

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