I commend cheerfulness to all who would win souls; not levity and frothiness, but a genial happy spirit. There are more flies caught with honey than with vinegar – C.H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students
A man has no more right at table to talk all than to eat all. – C.H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students
This past Sunday I spend a considerable part of my sermon teaching on the Biblical role, qualifications, and Lake Wylie Baptist’s need for elders. In the coming weeks, I’ll be authoring a series of blogs to help teach you more about this crucial need in our church, and how God’s Word teaches us to understand and establish elders in the church. For now, I simply want to recap some of my main thoughts from Sunday’s sermon:
A FEW MAIN POINTS:
I. Jesus gives the church pastors to equip the members for ministry.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11,12)
In the coming years, God is going to give us more elders at LWBC. That term, elders, is one of three terms the New Testament uses interchangeably to refer to the office of pastor. Virtually every New Testament church was led by a plurality of Biblically qualified men called pastors, elders, or overseers.
II. Some elders (pastors) will be seminary trained, others will not.
Seminary training is valuable and because elders are called to defend doctrine, seminary training can be a great aid to that end. However, the Bible doesn’t require that a pastor have seminary training and therefore, as we add elders to the ministry over the coming years, we expect to have elders who have no formal theological training, yet who are able to defend the truth from Scripture.
III. Some elders will be paid staff members, others will serve as lay-elders.
In the New Testament, we see that churches had elders who were supported financially by the church while others were not.
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. (1 Timothy 5:17)
THE BOTTOM LINE:
As God sends us more sheep to take care of in the flock of Lake Wylie Baptist, there will be a growing need for more equippers, more pastors. We aren’t in a rush to add elders, but we ought to be praying for them. A man need not be a professional, seminary-trained pastor to be an elder. He simply needs to live a life that helps equip members for ministry, and he needs to meet the Biblical qualifications founds in places like 1 Timothy 3. As God gives us more elders, they will work in concert with me as the Senior Pastor to help lead, teach, shepherd, and equip the church for the work of ministry. In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing to answer many more questions on the topic. If you have specific questions, I’d love to hear them so I can address them as well.
To conclude, here are a series of questions I posed Sunday that you should be praying through and asking yourself over the next months and years. These questions will guide us to the very men that God is calling out to be elders. And if you are a man in the membership of Lake Wylie, I’d encourage you to ask these questions of yourself:
Who do I see, working to equip the members of the church to do the work of ministry?
- Who is always discipling others?
- Who is teaching others the Bible?
- Who do we see caring for the flock?
- Who is it that is always praying for the sheep?
- Who do we see leading the flock well in his area of ministry?
Do I see evidence of the qualifications of an elder in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 in his life?
- Is he respectable?
- Does he control himself?
- Is he faithful to his wife?
- Is he gentle with others?
- Does he love money?
Most of you know that liturgy is a favorite topic of mine. Over the past few years, I’ve read numerous books, engaged in hundreds of conversations, and worked hard to craft Christ-centered liturgies for the church I pastor, Lake Wylie Baptist.
It may come as a shock, then, to see a blog post exhorting you to stop explaining the liturgy, but let me explain. By the title, I do not imply that ministers ought not to talk with one another about liturgy. Here’s what I mean:
Stop explaining what’s happening while the liturgy is happening. Stop acting as the narrator or expositor of the liturgy when it’s in progress. Stop MC’ing the service every single week. Nothing bores a congregation more than to be treated like toddlers and have a minister give a comprehensive explanation of every element of the worship service.
- Instead of saying, “Now we will sing…” just sing.
- Stop saying, “We will now observe the public reading of Scripture,” and just read the passage in power.
I know what you’re thinking. “But I want the congregation to understand what we’re doing!” Yes, yes. I do too. This is why I do the hard work of making sure the liturgy is Christ-centered, thoughtful, and sincere (to the best of my ability) so that they can come in and simply put their feet on the pedals and ride.
In his philosophy of worship for Bethlehem, John Piper placed the highest priority on the vertical focus of Lord’s Day worship. In describing that priority, Dr. Piper sought to “remove horizontal intrusions between vertical acts.”
Piper encourages pastors to cut out anything that disrupts the “flow [of the people] in a sustained godwardness and vertical attentiveness.”
Worship is about movement. God > Man > Christ > Response. Move. Move. Move. Every time you interject exposition of an element of the service movement stops. When Isaiah caught a vision of the Lord on the throne, the seraphim didn’t stop their antiphonal chant to exposit the meaning of “holy” for Isaiah. That would have broken his gaze upon the Lord. He was in the temple. He could see it. There’s a time and place to explain holiness. Do it in a sermon. But be very selective of when to interrupt the vertical gaze of the congregation
Imagine having your best friends over for a meal. You prep the meal with intensity, care, and an eye towards the beauty of the presentation. The friends gather around the table, grab a fork, but before they take the first bite of salad, you stop and begin explaining why you arranged the tomatoes next to the peppers. Then, as the fork moves to the chicken, you give them a small lecture on why the chicken is the centerpiece of the salad. Do you see where this is going? None of us want meals explained. We just want to eat them. We just want to taste and see.
This is not to say that you should never explain the liturgy to the church. You should. I’m simply advocating that you don’t do it every Sunday between every element. Work for sustained vertical attention.
This post is being filed under “If I Were a Pastor.” I intend these posts to speak to brother pastors who are seeking to reform their church. Whether it’s liturgy, ecclesiological practices, preaching or some other topic, these posts will be fairly unfiltered comments about how we’ve done things at LWBC. Feel free to dialogue with me, I’d love to share my foolishness and maybe even some wisdom.