- Click here to read a conversation introducing this section
Tim Boarder: Well, I’m convinced that biblical eldership is God’s way for church leadership, but I have some questions. Our church of 500 members has had a pastor-hierarchy model for thirty years, but we are in-between pastors at the present. The way we have been doing leadership hasn’t been working too well, and most of the ruling board have been kicking around the idea of biblical eldership for some time. Now seems a good time to investigate this further before we go out and find another pastor.Paul Mentor: Great thinking, Tim! You are right, this is a great time for you to be working through this—for a number of reasons.Tim: Well, I’m going to call a meeting of the board and get started. No time to waste in turning this church around!Paul: Whoa, slow down. You don’t want to approach this like a wrecking ball and create a lot of misunderstanding or mistrust.Tim: What do you mean? Don’t all great leaders “charge ahead where no one dare go?”Paul: When it comes to changing the leadership structure in a church, you could easily end up shooting yourself in the foot.Tim: Hmm, I don’t want that to happen. Well, then, what’s the first step?Paul: Glad you asked. The first step is for you to examine your motive.Tim: That’s obvious, I want to convince our church to go with a biblical eldership model of leadership.Paul: That may be the goal, but why do you want to see this happen? Your motive will affect how you communicate BE to others. Actually, there can be a mix of motives and it is good to sort these out, because they can affect your efforts in different ways. Some good motives are: love for the people, honoring God, commitment to Scripture—things like that. But it is also possible to be motivated by a mix of frustration, power struggles, pride, insecurity and many other things.Tim: Wow, this could get complicated. How do I begin sorting through it all?Paul: Another great question – all great leaders know how to ask good questions and are willing to accept help. Here’s where we can help you. Read on.
If you are reading this, then you are a member of the ruling board of your church (you may call it a council, board of deacons, or something else). Additionally, your church is in between pastors or otherwise simply does not have a pastor currently in place. Actually, this can be an ideal time to consider BE because it avoids the challenge that faces both the board and the pastor when his role is changed from being “the leader” to becoming one among equals.
There are some unique challenges in pursuing BE as a board. It requires vision, time, energy and skill. I suspect you already have the vision for BE. We can help you with the skill part. However, the other two you will need to assess for yourselves. It is important that whoever is the catalyst has all four of these characteristics, whether that is you or someone else. We will assume it is you!
The place to begin is to examine your motivations, to discern not only the obvious ones, but also the “hidden things of the heart.” It is the not-so obvious ones that can trip you up. For this, continue on to the next section, “Board’s Motivation” where we will walk you through a few steps.