Monday, January 21, 2019

The Process of Becoming a Leader of Christ Fellowship Bible Church
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The church belongs to Jesus Christ! He resides as the sovereign Head over His Body, the church and He has spoken clearly and sufficiently in His Word, the Bible. What He says has total authority over all that happens in His Church. The Scriptures very clearly present qualifications for the leadership offices of elder and deacon. But the practical question remains: how does one become a leader? What is the process by which a man becomes a leader in the church of Jesus Christ?

At CFBC, we have condensed this process in a few practical headings.

First, Selecting men.
Leaders prove themselves to be leaders long before they’re appointed to leadership positions. That means that these men will evidently demonstrate themselves to be doing the work of service long before they are publicly affirmed with a leadership title. They’re not in it for the title, the prestige, the position, or the authority. They want to serve and they do the work with or without the recognition or official leadership title. So the leadership of CFBC selects men who already are showing themselves to be doing the work of ministry. For a deacon, it is one who shows a life of integrity, one who is consistent in his speech and commitments, one who is willing to serve, aid the shepherds, and help do the work of ministry to free up the shepherds to maintain prayer and the study and teaching of the Word as their foremost calling. For an elder, here is one who already is living out the qualifications (of personal life, home life, marital life) as well as a man who shows himself to be shepherding folks in the Word (teaching biblical truth with clarity and accuracy) as well as defending against false and harmful doctrine. So the selection of men consists in the recognizing of those men who already are doing the work in the local church. We seek them out, the leadership meets with them and asks if they have a desire for leadership in the local assembly.

Second, Examining men.
Then after the selection of men comes the process of examination. The Apostle Paul talks about leaders being tested and examined. This can be both formal and informal. Informally, it refers of course to the examination of the man’s life by observation and by careful scrutiny. It also, however, includes the necessary examination formally. This refers to a written examination (for both elders and deacons). We also, at CFBC, choose to examine the man in an oral interview where we ask specific questions about the prospect’s spiritual life (sexual purity, Bible reading, prayer time, marriage, family worship, financial condition, repentance, evangelism, etc.).  For an elder and deacon, we would interview the wife privately (without the husband there), and children (if applicable). For an elder, we would also go to his workplace and interview at least two co-workers to gather their impressions on the prospective leader. The oral and written examinations will help the existing leadership team in testing the candidate for a ministry position. This is a crucial element of the process of becoming a leader. This stage in the process is not to be rushed; nor is it to be overlooked. A man must be examined first before becoming an official leader in the church.

Third, Recognizing men
After a man has demonstrated a godly life, faithfulness in service in the local church, and after he has been examined, the CFBC leadership will bring the man before the church congregation in a corporate worship service and present him as a viable candidate for leadership. The leadership then calls on the church as a whole to give input to the leadership team about the candidate over a set period of time (say, a month or so). This includes the flock and their impressions, perceptions, concerns, or affirmations in the leadership process. After this set period of time, the leaders may approve the man by mentioning to him the weightiness and responsibility of leadership in Christ’s church.

Fourth, Affirming/Ordaining men
Then after a man is approved by the leadership, he is recognized publicly in a public worship service and appointed to the leadership position (of elder or deacon). This is a public recognition and the existing church leaders will pray for the new leader and commit him, his family, and the ministry to the Lord for His glory and for the health and protection of the church. No church makes a leader. No church raises up leaders. The Spirit of God does this. We view our job to disciple, pray for, train, and encourage men to serve in many ways. As they serve, the Spirit of God makes it clear over time who is already doing the work of service. And the more these faithful servants do the work, it becomes overwhelmingly clear both to them, to the leadership, and to to the congregation as a whole, whom the Lord is raising up to be a leadership (either a deacon or an elder).

Thursday, January 17, 2019

We Beg You, Church-Member, Pray For Your Elders!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St Louis, MO)

The Christian has no more powerful weapon that is constantly available to him than the glorious privilege of prayer. Intercessory prayer proves to be the greatest -- and at the same time, the hardest -- blessing that Christians have for one another! We can and must minister biblical truth to each other. Yes we must encourage. And sure we must reprove and confront when needed. But how frequently do we read of Paul begging believers: “pray for us” (1 Thess 5:25; 2 Thess 3:1; cf. Heb 13:18). Faithful shepherds would resonate with this simple plea to every church-member, “Brethren: pray for us!” How, you ask? Pray for your elders in the following suggested ways.

Know The Lord!
Pray for your elders to know the Lord. Simply: more than anything else in the world, pray that they would know God -- deeply. Pray that God would enlarge their understanding, deepen their convictions, widen their grasp, and tighten their adherence to God’s glory and character. Pray for your shepherds to know God in such a way that they experientially long to be with God in communion. Pray that their service is not rote or heartless. But pray that their ministerial work flows from a warm heart of devotion to Christ that all springs from a deep, tender, ever-growing knowledge of God!

Know the Word!
Pray for your elders to know the Word. Our guidebook is Scripture. Our foundation upon which we build all of life and ministry is the sufficient and clear Word of God. Nothing is as fixed as God’s Word. Nothing is as unchangeable as His Truth. In an age of opposition to divine authority and in a world drowning in rebellion against God’s clear directives, your elders covet and need your intercessory prayer. Pray for their courage to stand upon Scripture in the face of any and all opposition. Pray for their theological precision and robust grip of the biblical gospel so that Satan does not sway them away from the priorities. Pray for them to know and feed on the Word!

Know the Flock!
Pray for your elders to know the flock. Remember what Solomon charged his son: know well the condition of your flocks (Prov 27:23). Your elders have much to do including prayer, study of the Word, and administrative details. But remember: pastoral work is shepherding work. Ministerial work is people work. Pastors engage in soul-care. Pray for daily strength, divine power, sustaining energy, grace-given endurance, and joy-filled hearts. Intercede often for your ministers as their work often goes unnoticed, and at times, unappreciated. Pray for the Lord to minister to their hearts as they minister to the hearts of the saints. Pray for God to guard them from ‘pastoral burnout’ and from overworking to the neglect of their primary ministry -- his own wife and children. Pray that they would know needs, attend to them, and balance his time and duties well.

Know the Danger!
Pray for your elders to know the danger. Dangerous times are those in which we live! The god of this world is plunging many with him to perdition! And how he loves to distract the saints, distort the gospel, defile the leaders, destroy the gospel’s reputation and disrupt godly fellowship. Pray frequently and fervently for God to protect your congregation! Pray for your leaders in this! Pray that they would know and see the danger as a watchman of old was to observe a danger on the horizon and cry out to prevent harm from striking. Pray that God’s leaders would have insight and discernment to protect the flock preventatively instead of reactively after the danger has pierced through. Pray much and often for this is vital to the church’s health!

Know the Power!
Pray for your elders to know the power. Any faithful shepherd would honestly affirm his own weakness and inadequacy in himself to do pastoral work. So pray for him and with him to have and know the power of God! Consider calling your pastor and praying with and for him to have the power of God in his prayer time, in his sermon preparation time, in his preaching, and in his pastoral work. Pray for him to know the power of God and to see glimpses of God’s grace revealed as he marvels at how God works in and through him for the advance of the gospel and for the fame of Christ’s Name! Pray for him to experience the power of God while he heralds the gospel. Pray for him to see converts as he evangelizes and calls sinners to repent and believe. Pray for him to know power in the counseling room as he seeks to help believers put off sin and put on holiness. Pray for him and with him to have divine power in his work!

Know the Joy!
Pray for your elders to know the joy. Fullness of joy, the happinesses of joy, the delightfulness of joy and the otherworldliness of joy! Yes, pray for your shepherd-elders to have the divine glory of joy strike deep in their souls. Pray that even when hospital visits are needed, when struggling saints need reproof, when bad doctrine must be confronted, and when busyness creeps in that the joy of the Lord would refresh them, sustain them, gladden them, and enlarge their hearts. Pray for these shepherds to drink of the river of God’s delights -- daily. Pray for your elders to do their work not out of sheer duty but out of joyful wonder at God’s grace and call and glory! Pray for the joy of your elders to permeate through the flock so that Christian joy would characterize your local church congregation. Pray much and often for the God of joy to grant joy to your leaders!
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