This article appears in February's edition of Tabletalk magazine.
When it comes to shepherding the church, elders do well to realize that their calling is a practical, Trinitarian work.
The Apostle Paul made this clear to the elders of Ephesus. His final instructions to the leaders of that congregation were: “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Looking carefully at this directive, we see that elders can properly care for the church only by honoring their triune God as they do so. In essence, Paul gave the elders a Trinitarian formulation for their work.
Shepherd the church that God the Father owns. Set apart by the Father to receive His adoptive love before the world was made (Eph. 1:3–7), the church belongs solely to Him. Paul called it the “church of God.” One of my spiritual mentors used to regularly remind me of this truth. Whenever I said “my church” in reference to the congregation I pastored, he would raise his eyebrows and ask, “Whose church?” His point was clear. The church belongs to God, not me.