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Elder Commission

Hebrews 13:7-8, 17-18

 

During the month of April we spent our time from the pulpit and Bible class looking at what Scripture teaches us about the role and function of elders in the church. Since then we asked you to submit the names of men you felt were qualified to serve as overseers here at Park Central. Those men were invited to attend a seminar with Jerrie Barber, and then attend some meetings with our current shepherds. 

 

Aided by your prayers three men chose to continue in the process that included more meeting with our current shepherds and a time where the congregation could come and get to know them better and ask questions. All of them are well qualified and uniquely gifted to serve as elders and this congregation has charged Jeff Darby, Bobby Hilton, and Dale LeBlanc to join with our current shepherds to lead us and care for our souls. 

 

If you are a guest today, I am very much aware that this bit of family business might not be exactly what you had hoped to experience today. It does, however, affect you very much. Especially if you are looking for a church home and are considering Park Central. The leaders of a church chart it's course, the speed at which that course is pursued, and the values by which the journey is made. So even if you are not yet a member here, you have a stake in who leads and how they lead. 

 

For those of us who are Park Central members, this is as significant as it gets. At the beginning of this process, you and I talked about the responsibilities the shepherds have to the church. Today, it is time for the us to talk about the responsibilities the church has toward it's shepherds. Look with me in Hebrews 13:7 - 8,17 - 18. 

 

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. ... Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. Pray for us. 

 

The writer suggests three responsibilities the church has to it's leaders. 

 

The responsibility of imitation

 

"Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith." The men who serve Park Central as elders have lived spiritually successful lives. That doesn't mean they are perfect. Everyone of them is a sinner saved by the grace and mercy of Christ. When I say they've lived spiritually successful lives, I mean that their lives have born good fruit and produced a harvest of blessing. That's exactly why they were selected to be our shepherds. Because they have walked with God for decades, they are able to lead others in that direction. 

 

When Hebrews tells us to imitate the faith of our leaders, it is inviting us to ask an important question; what kind of person do you want to be when you grow up? Our leaders are not only charged with the care for our souls, they are called to live a life worth imitating, a life that is Jesus with skin on it. There are times when I read the Bible and think how am I supposed to do that. But when I see someone living out their faith, it becomes much easier. That is what our shepherds are supposed to do for us. 

 

 

Next, we see the responsibility of submission. 

 

That's vs. 17. "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority." Our shepherds have always executed the duties of their office from a position of humility and service. They are not, as some elderships regrettably are, overbearing or intoxicated with the authority of the position. In fact, our elders rarely talk about or exercise their authority. So it is easy for this church to forget that while they are our elders, a term which celebrates their maturity, and our shepherds, a term which emphasizes their responsibility to guide and protect, they are also our overseers; a term which emphatically identifies their authority. 

 

Here's what that means in practical terms. There are going to be times when you or I will disagree with a decision they make. Honestly, there have been many times when I walked out of a meeting thinking, "I don't know what those guys have been smoking, but it ain't holy!" It's all right to disagree. It's all right to say you disagree. It’s even alright to go to them in private and tell them that you disagree. But the bottom line is, they are the overseers of this church and we are called to recognize and submit to their authority. The Bible tells us to obey them. There aren't too many ways to spin that. 

 

Now that may frighten some of us. Maybe you've had bad experiences with overbearing leaders before. I have worked with some Elderships that have abused their position and place of authority to the detriment of the church. But I will tell you that in the 2 years that I’ve served under this eldership, I have never seen them abuse their authority or use it in a self-serving way. They are first and foremost, servants, far more comfortable in the shadows of anonymity than in the spotlight of popularity. 

 

Finally, Hebrews talks about the responsibility of intercession. 

 

Vs. 18 says, "Pray for us." If we follow their example, we'll grow up to be spiritually mature people. If we submit to their authority. they will lead us closer to God. If we pray for them diligently, they'll serve and lead us long and well. 

 

Something happens to a man when he becomes an elder. He answers the phone differently when it rings at home. Before he speaks a word he thinks twice, then three times. A tear wells up in a member's eye and he tastes the salt. One of the sheep struggles with a burden and he feels the weight of it. 

 

Our shepherds struggle with the same things we struggle with. The fear and doubt, the temptations and frustrations, the sadnesses and the disappointments. They not only have to handle their own struggles and burdens, they shoulder ours as well. It is a wonder they don't walk with stooped shoulders much of the time. 

 

So far beyond our obedience to their authority, they need the intercession of our prayers. I urge you to remember them before the Creator every single day. And tell them that you are praying for them. 

 

Today marks a new beginning, another page turns in the history of the body here and once again we are given the ability to do great things in His kingdom. And I believe that God continues to put us in positions where we can overcome this world with His love and compassion. 

 

One of the things that excites me about our new shepherds is that they are gifted in completely different ways, but as in any body it is those gifts that make the whole better. We have men that are hands, feet, and eyes. Men that are thinkers, encouragers, and leaders. We have men who have served us for years and men who are taking on the mantle of leadership. Today we start afresh and I hope that you are as excited as I am about what God has in store for us. 

 

Jeff, Bobby, and Dale have all spent their lives getting ready for this next chapter. Jeff has worked for the US Department of Labor for the last 22 years. Bobby owns his own business after working for and managing a Luby’s 29 years. And Dale preached for 20 years and has been working at Central Middle School for 16 years. All three of these men have a unique perspective and abilities to work with us. It is constantly amazing to me how God weaves our personal lives so that we can be better equipped to serve Him and His church. 

 

Now I would like to call our shepherds and their wives forward as we begin this new chapter in our lives and ministry. I want you to understand while these men are not perfect, they are called by God to lead us into a closer relationship with the Father. They will demonstrate for us what it means to live a life that imitates God, and they will say to us what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me as I imitate Christ.       

 

Introduction of Elders and wives 

 

Invite Bruce and Debbie and Chuck and Leslie to come forward and pray for them. 

 

Invite Jeff and Christy Darby to come forward and have Bruce pray for them.

 

Jeff this morning we are asking you to lead us by showing what it means to serve Jesus Christ as your Lord. We are asking you to teach and model the Gospel of Christ that will strengthen this body. We desire for you to guide us patiently and prayerfully while you allow the Spirit of God to equip you for this work. We want you to lead us rather than appease us, resolving to keep us focused on God’s purposes. We need you to pray for us when we are sick, minister to us when we are hurting, and rejoice with us when we are blessed. 

 

We also ask you to mentor and shepherd the other leaders God gives this church, we need you to work in harmony with your fellow shepherds and with the church. And we desire you to be great among us by serving as Christ did. Will you do this for us?

 

Invite Bobby and Nancy to come forward and have Jeff Pray for them. 

 

Bobby this morning we are asking you to lead us by showing what it means to serve Jesus Christ as your Lord. We are asking you to teach and model the Gospel of Christ that will strengthen this body. We desire for you to guide us patiently and prayerfully while you allow the Spirit of God to equip you for this work. We want you to lead us rather than appease us, resolving to keep us focused on God’s purposes. We need you to pray for us when we are sick, minister to us when we are hurting, and rejoice with us when we are blessed. 

 

We also ask you to mentor and shepherd the other leaders God gives this church, we need you to work in harmony with your fellow shepherds and with the church. And we desire you to be great among us by serving as Christ did. Will you do this for us?

 

Invite Dale and Cindy come forward and have Bobby pray for them. 

 

Dale this morning we are asking you to lead us by showing what it means to serve Jesus Christ as your Lord. We are asking you to teach and model the Gospel of Christ that will strengthen this body. We desire for you to guide us patiently and prayerfully while you allow the Spirit of God to equip you for this work. We want you to lead us rather than appease us, resolving to keep us focused on God’s purposes. We need you to pray for us when we are sick, minister to us when we are hurting, and rejoice with us when we are blessed. 

 

We also ask you to mentor and shepherd the other leaders God gives this church, we need you to work in harmony with your fellow shepherds and with the church. And we desire you to be great among us by serving as Christ did. Will you do this for us?

 

Have Dale pray for the Eldership. 

 

Brothers and Sisters, our worship today confesses our belief that God has called these men to shepherd our congregation. Our actions from this point forward must reflect that belief and it requires commitment on our part.

 

This morning we are asking you to ...

 

Follow these men in service for the sake of Christ?

 

To be respectful of their leadership and imitate their faith?

 

To support them in prayer and serve them in peace?

 

To “lift up their arms” even as they care for our souls?

 

To do all of this knowing that it pleases the Lord and shows our community HIs wisdom and compassion for us. If you agree this morning then I ask you to affirm by saying: “With God’s help I will!”

 

As a fellow sheep in this body I am thankful for the wisdom of God, and hopeful for what He has in store for our future under our new leadership.  



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