Gospel Eldership

gospeleldership

Well, I was pretty disappointed from the offset on this book.   I know, I know… what a way to begin a book review.  Bear with me.

I really, really was excited about this book.  As a person who has an interest in developing biblically sound leaders… this book jumped out at me as a great resource.  Then it happened… the top of page 4:  An elder is a man.

That is where my heart sunk.  I’ve been pretty honest in other posts about my struggle with the role of women as Pastors.  It was once something I was very against, morphed into something that became not quite so hardlined.  There were clearly times where God called a woman to lead (Deborah) and there are references of women in the New Testament as apostles and deaconesses.  It’s left me in a place currently where I feel as if the calling of women into headship is not outside of God’s character (even if it isn’t the norm).   It has even challenged me to the previous post, If Not Here, Than Where? … I can’t deny that women are called to lead and we need to have a place for them to do so.

Additionally, even with a historical belief that women were not called to be Pastors, I’ve never attended a church where women have been excluded from the role of deacon or elder.  In fact, it has been something I have seen Pastors embrace.  To have a female perspective will give staff the pulse of the women in the church, to have an elder that can counsel women directly without question of impropriety is a good safety measure, etc.

The scriptures clearly call women to teach other women, and that would also be to lead and guide other women. Why could there not be an elder, deacon, or even Pastor that does not oversee women?  Even if you were complementarian, I would think you could see that this would be an answer to the “if not here, then where?” question.

I wanted to keep reading though, and shortly found myself hung up again.

Thune states:  Complementarianism is the theological term for this viewpoint.  Men and women are complementary in their God-given design and roles, with men bearing the responsibility for spiritual leadership in the home and church.

He continues with the question:  If the men in your church looked like the men this resource envisions, would you have any reason not to trust, respect, and affirm their leadership?

And… to that question, I answer emphatically NO!  I would have zero reason to question their leadership. And… THIS IS THE VERY PROBLEM WE FACE IN THE CHURCH!

Right now statistically, women are comprising 60-65% of the warm bodies sitting in our pews every Sunday.   They make up 80-90% of the volunteer force in the church.  If you look at any church small group or bible study calendar, I would dare say that women’s ministry programs/events/studies will outnumber the male counterparts 4 to 1.

When I speak with women at events, do you know what the number one complain I get is?

I wish my husband was the spiritual leader in our home.  I’m tired of doing this on my own.  I don’t want the job.  It’s not supposed to be my job. 

When I speak with Pastors and other church staff, do you know what they give as a reason for not wanting women to go away on weekend long retreats?

If the women aren’t here on Sunday, the men don’t come and they don’t bring the children.

Now, I do not know if this is a regional thing.  Perhaps in the area of the country Mr. Thune is from, men are still the spiritual leaders.  But in THIS area, where I live, it is not the case.  The women are picking up that role, whether they want it or not, and therefore they are leaders in the home and in the church.  I’ve yet to sit in a church service, conference, or event locally that has challenged men to stand up to the occasion and change that direction.  The men have not be challenged to come when the women can’t, but instead they women have been told not to go.  A burden has been put upon their shoulders that was never meant to be, but the women are rising to the occasion.

It’s not that I disagree with Mr. Thune’s perspective on how God ordained the order of the family and headship.  Hardly, ideally it is exactly what God would want… but it’s not happening… and can we afford for those who are stepping up into leadership to not receive the proper training and development?

John Piper once spoke at a conference about his parents.  His father would travel for work, and while his father was away his mother stepped up to the occasion.  She handled the home until his father returned, then it was returned to his care.  Right now, our men are away… and we are handling the church… until they return.  Women are waiting for their men to “come home” and lead.  Until that time, we have a responsibility to our children and those who are in our charge.

If women are going to be spiritual leaders of their home, and in the church, picking up that slack… then they must be 1) equipped for the job with proper training and 2) held to the same standards a man would be in that position.

It is from that point forward, that I absolute LOVE and VALUE what this book has to offer in the way we are equipping our leaders.  I’ve seen many elders appointed in my day, but do you know that I’ve never heard of any one of them going through any sort of intentional or purposeful development… especially like this book offers.

I think this is a great resource for your existing elder team to work through together, in order to have a better understanding of their role in the church, further their relationship with each other, and have a better understanding of theology for their own personal edification and in leading others.  But, this is also a great tool for potential leaders in the church (not just for the role of elder).  It allows for honest introspection, challenges our leaders to a deeper commitment, raises the stakes on integrity and ethics of the leadership role, clear expectations from a biblical perspective for our leaders, and exercises and conversation that cause our leaders/potential leaders to really think about whether or not eldership is a calling on their life now (or ever).

The more I dug into the remaining content, the more I caught myself nodding my head in agreement.  THESE ARE THE MEN WE NEED IN OUR CHURCH.  Where are they?

Will they answer the call?

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My review of “Gospel Eldership” is entirely my own opinion.  I received the copy of “Gospel Eldership” from New Growth Press with the intention of a review.  Any thoughts expressed are my own and not influenced in anyway by the author or publisher. 

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED – BOOK REVIEW

missionaccomplished

As a parent of kids of varying ages, from High School to Elementary School, finding new devotion books that encompasses the needs of my entire family is hard.  If I shop with my teenager in mind, it ends up being too deep for my youngest.  However, if I shop with my youngest in mind… my teenager is usually bored to tears.

When I had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy of Mission Accomplished, thanks to New Growth Press, I was very impressed.

1)  The book covers two weeks of devotions, specifically written for Easter.  This is a book I reference year, after year.

2)  Each devotion starts with scripture, that supports the devotion theme.  It is followed with sections that encourage us to think about the context of the scripture, discussion questions, prayer prompts and even songs or activities to support that particular devotion.

3)  The devotions are quick and to the point, which is good for shorter attention spans or those with busy schedules.

4) The devotions are written in a way that will engage your older children, but can be explained by the parents when needed.

Overall, this is a great book for the family who spans a broad array of ages.  That said, if your family is predominantly young children, you may want to read the devotions ahead and reword to fit the age group you are working with.  You will find some words that your children may not be familiar with (depending on the verbiage your church uses), some of the discussion questions are better suited for older children who have a background of Sunday school classes, and some of the songs referenced in the “Sing About It” portions were not familiar to me.  This devotion is definitely written for a more seasoned believer, in my opinion.

I do love this devotion, and with all of the tools we have available; simply pre-reading the devotion can help identify areas you might want to brush up on before sitting down with the family.  Since they are short, you can skim it relatively quickly and use your bible or the internet to define unfamiliar words, or even look up the music for the songs.

Do not be intimidated to pick up this devotion, even if some of the references are unfamiliar to you as a new believer.  It will help your grow, understanding the Easter story better, and more accurately.  The devotions are not overwhelming and they do a great job of tying in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

If you are looking for a good devotion for the family, one that you can learn from & teach from… check out Scott James’ A Mission Accomplished.

BOOK REVIEW: REFORMED MEANS MISSIONAL By Samuel T Logan Jr.

missional

I received a copy of this book at a Christian Writers Workshop, as part of a conference I attended.   Before I get into the review, I need to preface that I read this book stand alone.   I knew nothing of it, or it’s author, or that it was an expansion on the WRF Statement of Faith section on “Mission and Evangelism”.    Therefore, some bits of information (that were assumed the reader would be recognize) went right over my head.  I am not familiar with the World Reformed Fellowship organization or their Statement of Faith,   However, that doesn’t mean the book wasn’t a worthy read.  There are some great bits of information I gleaned from it, so I wouldn’t count it as a loss.  Quite the contrary, it has inspired me to look into the WRF more.   Anything, in my opinion, that stirs up the desire to read further is a victory.  Fortunately, the internet helped me fill in some of those gaps.

In Regards to the Author:  Samuel T Logan, Jr.

Technically Samuel T Logan, Jr. is listed as the editor of the book.  There is no “author” as it is a compilation of various authors, scripture and WRF related information into a singular book.  I can’t entirely give him credit as the author, and to be honest, a good portion of the bits I underlined can be contributed to other authors.  However, Mr. Logan does a great job of binding this information together, transitioning from thought to thought and using his own knowledge and writing skills to fill in the gaps.  There are some thoughts or statements that stood out to me, that are entirely his own.  One must go into reading this book understanding, though, that this is a compilation of thought vs. one man’s perspective.

In Regards to the Book:  Reformed Means Missional

The book is broken down into two parts, the first is “laying the foundation”.   To understand what it means to follow Jesus into the world, our mission, we need to understand the WHY.  But even before you get into the first chapter, the Forward and Introduction are important reads.  In a nutshell the book helps us understand what it means to be missional, a look into the WRF ‘s stance on it, what a missional church will look like, and hitting The Book to understand what Romans has to say about missions.  One of my favorite portions of the first section took a look at the question “What does a Christian look like?”.  Readers, the way the book handles this question alone makes it worth reading.

In the second section of the book, Logan moves us beyond the WHY and into practical application.  Instead of it being a general step by step guide however, the subsequent chapters are devoted to very specific topics of global importance.  Such as violence toward women, poverty, child sexual abuse, etc.  This portion is where we get to see the other authors shine.  Each handling one topic, and handling it well.  This makes the second portion of the book a great reference guide for the future when you need guidance on one of these topics.  Instead of sifting through pages upon pages looking for a paragraph, you can narrow the field to the chapter of the book.  These are important chapters that cover the challenges facing the church today on a global stage and cultural platform without neglecting that these are also issues that can be found in our own backyards.  I am also pleased that these subjects were covered in a very straight forward, yet gentle way.

Highlights from the Text:

“It is not so much that God has a mission for his church in the world; rather God has a church for his mission in the world.  Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission – God’s mission.”    Christopher J.H. Wright, Foreward to “Reformed Means Missional” by Samuel T. Logan, Jr.

“When we ask what makes a person a Christian, we are asking about what a person seeks first.”  Reformed Means Missional by Samuel T Logan, Jr.

“I learned the love of God bent down, way into the muck, and mire of this world, into the darkest corners running with rats.  “He was despised… he was pierced… he was crushed… He was opressed, and he was aflicted. I saw that his love led him to become like us so that we might actually become something like him.”  Diane Langberg from Reformed Means Missional by Samuel T Logan, Jr.

Reformed Means Missional

Samuel T Logan, Jr.

New Growth Press

ISBN 13:978-1-938267-75-8