Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pastor/Elder Reflections

We're in the middle of an in-house pastor/elder retreat this weekend ("in house" meaning we meet at the church premises and sleep in our own beds). Being new to this retreat, here are a couple things I've noticed and appreciated thus far:

A community of leadership: There isn't a sense of division or competition between the pastoral staff and the elders, though there is diversity. We all bring our different personalities, values, and paradigms to the table, then discuss where God is leading us.

A sense of trust and understanding: Related to the community of leadership is an underlying sense of trust between the leaders. I'm not saying we're perfect in this or have this uber-tight-knit team of pastors and elders. But for me, there isn't an anxiety about what I can or can't share; my job security isn't on the line.

I must admit, I have a personal insecurity about my age when it comes to these things. In the past, my thoughts or opinions were more or less written off by my lack of experience or young age (unless someone wanted the "younger generation's" opinion), so I came into this with a mild sense of cynicism, expecting a similar experience. I think God is slowly breaking down that "you're too young for this" insecurity this weekend.

A desire for God's leading: Instead of becoming a business-like strategy forming session, where leaders create methods and strategies for where they want to lead the church, we've spent a great deal of time in prayer and Scripture seeking where God might be leading us. There's a big difference between forming strategies and slapping on a "God-approved" label, and creating strategies based on what the Spirit is actively doing in our midst.

It's been a good experience for me thus far. And I should probably get moving if I'm gonna make it to the next morning session!


  1. I want you to know that you, your family and ministry are always in my thoughts and prayers. I know God has great plans for you. Keep trusting Him. Your blog is one of my favorites. I will comment as often as possible. Hope you have a great week.

  2. Hey Joel,

    What's the difference between "the pastoral staff and the elders"?

    I'm just curious.

    So the group spent time in prayer and Scripture study, determining God's leading for the direction of the church? What did that look like? Can you give us a rundown of how a day/meeting went?

    My church is currently struggling to develop a direction. I'm sad to say we've been without one for a good while. The elder are meeting for an hour of prayer each Tuesday night for the next two months, culminating at the end of October with a day long meeting to discuss, and formulate on paper, the vision and mission of our church.

    Similar to yourself, I'm the youth pastor, and the youngest of the elders. I'm curious what advice you would share with me at this point?


  3. Brance-
    At our church, the elders are Godly lay leaders in our community who set the vision and direction for our church both by example and by leading. The pastoral staff are gifted paid leaders who carry out the vision by leading specific ministries.

    Before the actual retreat, we each spent time praying about the direction God is leading us for 2009. The first meeting when we came together, we each wrote down a word/phrase that encompassed what we believed God was speaking to us. We put all the words on a white board, then looked for patterns and connections, read passages of Scripture that encompassed what we were seeing, and had a discussion defining terms and why we thought these words/ideas were important.

    And that's just the first evening.

    As for being the youngest, I'm beginning to learn that discipleship doesn't have an age limit and that God working in our lives is far more important than our age. For instance, the majority of the discussion this weekend revolved around the phrase I put on the board--missional community--and how our church can take steps to become this in 2009. It didn't matter that I'm half the age of many of the elders; it mattered what God was doing in our midst. I think it also has to do with humility, understanding that anything of value we have comes from God, and we really don't have the same life experience as an older generation. But God can still use us in unique ways, just as He used David, Jeremiah, Timothy, and other young leaders in Scripture (as long as they were passionately following Him!). So I hope you take confidence in that!

    Thanks for the encouragement! Looking forward to your comments in the future.