Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy
of double honor, especially those
who labor in preaching and teaching
(1 Tim 5:17)
Return to Leadership
By Stephen W. Hiemstra
My term as elder began in January 2003 when Centreville Presbyterian Church (CPC) ordained me and I was elected as clerk of session, a leadership position. As clerk, I worked closely with the pastor to set agendas for the session and congregational meetings, and kept the official notes on all meetings.
Pastor Rob encouraged the elders to deepen their faith and to become more involved in the life of the church. He encouraged us involved dedicating the first half-hour of our meetings to study and prayer. The first book that we used in this effort was Oswald Sanders’ book, Spiritual Leadership, which served to make the point that elders were more than merely the board of directors of the church. Session soon became my first small group.
Pastor Rob also encouraged us was to become more involved in the life of the church through preaching and teaching. In the spring, our associate pastor resigned and Pastor Rob asked that elders to offer personal testimonies on Sunday morning to give him some time off.
At first, I avoided the question, but after thinking about it, I told him:
I am uncomfortable giving a personal testimonial, but if you want, I will preach for you. I am used to teaching college students so it should be no problem to preach.
He agreed and shared a book, Communicating for a Change, with me by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones to help me get started. Over the next year, I preached four times on the call to faith and ministry, the problem of pain, the Book of Esther, and the covenants of law and grace.
The following year, I taught my first adult Sunday school class, a video series crafted around R.C. Sproul’s book: Reason to Believe. We had more than twenty adults who attended the class and, because of the success of the class, I was encouraged to teach Bible studies, starting with the Book of Romans in 2005. After that I taught Luke, Genesis, Hebrews, Philippians, and Matthew.
After a point in teaching, I got frustrated by the poor attendance on Sunday mornings. I thought: “Where are the elders? Where are the deacons?” When I looked around the room, I realized that only one or two in a class of a dozen were even church members. My class consisted primarily of family members, colleagues from work, and active, non-members who wandered in. These were people who, like myself, struggled to understand their faith and chided at the usual pat answers.
Sanders, J. Oswald. 1994. Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer. Chicago: Moody Press.
Sproul, R.C. 1982. Reason to Believe: A Response to Common Objectives to Christianity. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Stanley, Andy and Lane Jones. 2006. Communicating for a Change. Colorado Springs: Multinomah Books.
Other ways to engage with me online:
Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.
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