Judy and I belong to an Evangelical Free Church (The Lighthouse) in our small town that provides us with a great fellowship of believers who are committed to extending the kingdom of Jesus in the midst of the coming darkness. We feel blessed to be a part of what God is doing in our community. We recently welcomed our new pastor, Andrew Johnson and his wonderful wife, Angela, and their daughter, Rebekah. As one of the elders, I am committed to supporting our young pastor as he begins his ministry in our midst.
I take to heart the exhortation of Hebrews 13: 17 – Message, “Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?” Being responsive could also mean follow, place confidence in or be persuaded by. Phillips translation says, “Try to make their work a pleasure and not a painful burden – that would be no advantage to you.” Having been a pastor for 40 years I know a thing or two about being a spiritual leader and working with elders. I have told my new pastor and the church as well, that I intend to honor my pastor and do all I can to support his ministry.
I say this, because I assume that most of the readers of this blog are active members of a church. In my humble opinion, one of the greatest needs in the evangelical church is the “rightly ordering” of relationships. In a day of increasing anger against any kind of authority, godly men are desperately needed to model confidence in proper spiritual authority. When men set the example, a sense of peace and rest prevails among the people of God. This is the result of keeping vigilance in relationships and being involved in spiritual warfare.
Here is what I wrote in my report to the congregation as we welcomed our new pastor. Regarding the elders (Bob and myself): “Our intentions in relationship to pastor could be summarized as follows: 1) wholehearted support, 2) fervent prayer for pastor and his family, 3) encouragement. 4) standing in unity with pastor, 5) honoring his leadership as our shepherd and leader, 6) continuing to be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the congregation, while keeping pastor informed, and 7) sharing our best discernment regarding the spiritual life of the Lighthouse.”
To the members of the Lighthouse: “The following suggestions are for all the members of the Lighthouse as we begin our new journey with Pastor Johnson. 1) Be welcoming of pastor and his family, 2) pray for pastor and his family, 3) be an encouragement to pastor, 4) honor pastor as our leader, 5) ask what our part is in the church, without demanding, 6) give to the whole, while giving up our personal expectations, 7) live in prayerful expectation of what God desires to do, and 8) live in forgiveness and acceptance of your brothers and sisters.”
Brother Bob and I as elders of the Lighthouse, sincerely believe that God has a unique calling for our church in rescuing people from the impending darkness, while helping to establish them in the fellowship of our church, bringing them into the light and providing them with spiritual refuge. Many will need to be rescued from the confusing darkness, giving them hope as they learn to reign with Jesus in the kingdom of light. “”For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true” (Eph. 5:8 NLT).