Training for the new class of elders began last night. We worshipped together, passed out books, set up the schedule and talked in general about life on the Session. Being informed about Presbyterian theology and polity are important, but so is spiritual formation. Being a church leader ought to impact one’s personal faith in ways that deepen and refresh. Finding a balance between information and formation is the key.
The new elders have committed to a lot of reading and study in the coming weeks. The course of study we are using is more intense than the one we’ve used in the last few years. This class of elders is going to evaluate the training material and determine how we handle it from here on.
But make no mistake. The Church’s ministry is a gift from Jesus to the whole Church. Read through the responsibilities of church members in the Book of Order (part of our Constitution) if you think the elders are the only ones who have things to do. Still, some of us are called to “ordered ministries,” as the Book of Order calls it, to fulfill the function of leadership for set periods of time:
As there were in Old Testament times elders for the government of the people,
so the New Testament church provided persons with particular gifts to share in
discernment of God’s Spirit and governance of God’s people. Accordingly,
congregations should elect persons of wisdom and maturity of faith, having
demonstrated skills in leadership and being compassionate in spirit. Ruling elders
are so named not because they “lord it over” the congregation (Matt. 20:25), but
because they are chosen by the congregation to discern and measure its fidelity to
the Word of God, and to strengthen and nurture its faith and life. Ruling elders,
together with teaching elders [that means pastors], exercise leadership, government,
spiritual discernment, and discipline and have responsibilities for the life of a congregation
as well as the whole church, including ecumenical relationships. (Book of Order, G-2.0301)
The five new elders went home last night with a stack of books and assignments. They are taking their calling seriously, and I invite you to support them by asking how training is going and praying for them between now and their ordination/installation in July.
Scripture Readings: Acts 1:1-11; Luke 24:44-53
The prayer list can be found here.