Sunday, September 28, 2008

Emerging Elders

This past week I was at Abilene Christian University's Summit conference. I was asked to do 3 classes on the Emerging Elders book which was released by Leafwood Publishers on Monday, Sept. 22.

I enjoyed the classes. They were attended by elders, ministers, and their wives. A few college students came. I was prepared to answer questions such as, "Since you're not an elder how can you write a book about this..." or "What makes us think a minister should train elders?" I was prepared to answer questions about the book or some of the Biblical texts I dealt with. I was not prepared for the other questions that came.

"How can we get dysfunctional leaders out of leadership?"
"How do you do an elder development program when the main elders don't want to let go of power?"
"How do we get our leaders to attend trainings and learn to shepherd people?"
"How do we confront power struggles in leadership?"
"How do you give vision to new leaders if the established ones lack vision?"

I was surprised that these were asked by both elders and ministers. I saw men and women who were frustrated, upset, discouraged, and feeling that there wasn't much hope. Honestly, I am not making this up...I wish I were. It saddens me to see churches with leadership that loves the power more than Jesus and people. However, from reading Ezekiel 34 we know that this is the nature of some people.

I actually had no answer. I didn't want to say, "Leave--start a new church and watch it grow." I acknowledge this language in a talk can hurt the reputation of Kairos, church planting, and the future of the Kingdom.

So I said, "I don't know..." Maybe I was being dishonest.

One conversation went like this, "When elders fail to lead as God calls, shouldn't we be held accountable?" one elder asked.

"We are and we suffer," someone else said.

"Doesn't Paul tell Timothy to rebuke elders in sin? Maybe we need to be bolder," another spoke up.

"You know what would happen to a minister if he did that..." said another.

The group was silent and nodded.

I go to speak at the Zoe Conference in Nashville next week.

I wonder what the discussion will be about at that one.


Tim Lewis said...

Wow, those are some tough questions. Is this what people should expect if they write a book?

Carisse said...

Sometimes I think that the enthusiasm for church planting among seminary students is rooted in avoidance of current leadership troubles.

KMiV said...

Carisse, it was good to see you at ACU. The library is great!

Tim--it depends on the book!