- Click here to read a conversation introducing this section
Tim Peacemaker: Well, I’m convinced that biblical eldership is God’s way for church leadership, and so are a few others in leadership. But, some reject the idea. How can I convince them that this is biblical? Should I call for a vote?Paul Mentor: Great questions, Tim. First off, I’d urge you to put unity at the top of or your priority list. As important as biblical eldership is, it is not a good trade if the cost of pursuing it destroys the church. Many fine pastor-led churches accomplish great things for the Lord. BE is not one of the fundamentals of the faith worth dividing the church over.Tim: Thanks, that’s a good reminder. I guess I have been studying this subject for so long now, I’ve gotten a bit out of balance. Having said that, I still think pursuing BE is what God would have for us and our church.Paul: It’s good to keep things in perspective. Your outward show of commitment to the unity of the church will be coupled with your love for God’s people – and this will communicate volumes to those you are trying to influence toward BE.Tim: I sure hope so. We do have in place a method for making decisions: a motion carries if voted in favor by 3/4 of the board. I think we can get close to that if I call in a few favors.Paul: Whoa, slow down. You don’t want to approach this like a politician—that would be like taking a wrecking ball to your church building—it is bound to create a lingering conflict.Tim: What do you mean? Don’t all great leaders “charge ahead where no one dare go?”Paul: When it comes to changing the leadership structure in a church, you could easily end up shooting yourself in the foot.Tim: Hmm, I don’t want that to happen. Well then, what’s the first step?Paul: Glad you asked. The first step is for you to examine your motives.Tim: That’s obvious, I want to convince our governing board and the congregation to go with a biblical eldership model of leadership.Paul: That may be the goal, but why do you want to see this happen? Your motive will affect how you communicate BE to others. Actually, there can be a mix of motives, and it is good to sort these out because they can affect your efforts in different ways. Some good motives are: love for the people, honoring God, commitment to Scripture—things like that. But it is also possible to be motivated by a mix of frustration, power struggles, pride, insecurity and many other things.Tim: Wow, this could get complicated. How do I begin sorting through it all?Paul: Another great question – all great leaders know how to ask good questions and are willing to listen. Here’s where we can help you. Read on.
If you are reading this, then you are a member of a board or staff that is divided about BE. You are to be commended for not only embracing BE, but also seeking help in negotiating what seems to be stormy waters.
In some ways, dealing with resistance at the level of the board can be a blessing, because it will give you opportunity to uncover some significant issues early in the process before a lot of time is spent. If, and hopefully when, the board embraces BE, you will be well experienced in dealing with those issues when they arise with other members of the congregation. On the other hand, to push it through using Robert’s Rules of Order or whatever voting system you use, betrays the very character of biblical eldership that we espouse: shared leadership responsibilities with godly qualifications. In other words, you want to begin your journey of helping your church transition to BE by using biblical elder kind of methods for dealing with disagreements.
Some may have misgivings that run deep because of a bad experience they know of in another church. Others may have built up distrust due to ongoing conflict among the board, and thus see the move to BE as a power issue. Still others may simply be unaware of the Bible’s teaching of leadership in the local church.
Disagreement brings unique challenges in pursuing BE:
1. The pastor attempting to influence a reluctant board.
2. The board attempting to influence a reluctant pastor.
3. A board that is divided within itself.
At the leadership level, there is an ever present danger that some leaders will feel threatened or criticized. That’s why it is necessary to demonstrate in your actions and in your words that you are supportive of them and their efforts. There can be no success if they feel attacked or criticized in the process.
The place to begin is to examine your own motivations, to discern not only the obvious ones, but also the “hidden things of the heart.” It is the not-so obvious ones that can trip you up. After that we will introduce to you some helpful advice for influencing the leadership of your church with the BE concept.
So continue on to the next section, “Leader’s Motivation” where you will walk through a few preliminary things.