Last Sunday, the officers of our church took some time to go over a book on Eldership. It was good to see new and older officers together discussing our ministry and sharing insights and ideas on how we can better lead the local church. As a minister, I know the work that I have been called to do. I am blessed to have the freedom to do this full time. What impresses me are these Elders and Deacons who give so much of their time for the ministry. They visit the members, work on projects, help with the finances, and do countless other things on their own time.
This time of training was helpful and encouraging to our Elders. The message of the book challenged our Elders to shepherd God’s people. This is not an easy task, but one that is needed in the church. The Deacons were reminded of their role to help the Elders in areas so they are free to do this work of shepherding. It was a good time, but we also walked away reminded of the serious and needed work our Elders have before them.
Flashback a couple of weeks when we had the installation of new officers, here we see the officers take vows concerning their beliefs, their duties, and their responsibilities. We have good officers who take their vows and their duties seriously. They struggle to balance Unity, Peace, Purity, and Prosperity in our ministry of the local church. These officers know the challenge of shepherding and the responsibility that comes with the office. They step forward and work hard in this calling.
One of the beautiful moments for me in the ordination/installation service is when the members “promise to give them the honor, obedience, encouragement, and assistance .… their office….entitles them” At this moment the people stand in support of their officers. It is an encouragement that is needed for the work is hard and often discouraging.
With this in mind, here are a few ways you can help your Elders and Deacons.
Encourage your Elders and Deacons - We do not want the Elders and Deacons to think theirs is a thankless job. I know that as a Pastor I am often thanked by my congregation. There are words of appreciation and encouragement at the door every Sunday. There are random notes, calls, and even gifts. The congregation remembers me during pastor appreciation month and at holidays. This is good and much needed encouragement for me as the pastor, but when does the congregation express thanks to the Elders or Deacons? A note or a call of encouragement and thanks can really encourage our officers. It can help them especially in difficult times.
Have you ever written a note to an officer in your church to encourage and thank them. When was the last time you called an officer, pulled them aside, or even just emailed them to thank them for their work in the church? It does not cost much money or time, but the dividends can be great.
Pray for your Elders and Deacons - The enemy knows to attack the leaders. New officers are especially susceptible to these attacks. Many new officers walk into sessions and diaconates unaware of the difficulties, disagreements, and the hard work before them. Your officers need your prayers as they lead and guide the church. Your officers need you to pray for their families, for their walk with Christ, for their protection from sin, and for their growth in grace.
I would encourage you to pray for each of your Elders and Deacons by name. Rotate through them each week or month depending on the size of your church. Nothing encourages me more than to hear the members of my congregation pray for me and my family.
Help your Elders and Deacons - There are times that your officers are going to ask for help. Be quick to volunteer if you have the time and talents for what is needed. The work of the ministry, even in a small local congregation, is bigger than you think. There is an old saying that 80% of the work in the church is done by 20% of the people. Make sure that you are in the 20% that are doing the work. Do not only be someone willing to work if asked, but be that person the officers know they can depend on when you see a need.
Listen to your Elders and Deacons - One of the hardest things to do is deal with disagreements in a congregation. Members can become unruly and difficult over a host of issues. If you find yourself in the midst of a church squabble then let your officers lead you through it. Let them shepherd you as one of the flock. Give your opinion and have good discussions with them, but let them be the leaders that God put them in your church to be. Be a team player and listen to your officers.
Shepherding the sheep of God in a local congregation is never easy, but if you have people who encourage you, pray for you, listen to you, and help you in the work then it not only easier to do this ministry, it is also more productive and fun. Know that God has given you officers to lead the congregation and bless you. Be quick to encourage them, pray for them, help them and listen to them.