The Ruling Elder (Part one of a three part series on the ordained offices of the Presbyterian Church)

ordination_50521_web   Each year our congregation goes through the discernment process of selecting leaders for our congregation. The nominating taskforce is working to recommend a slate of officers to the Session for the next class of Elders and Deacons. This is perhaps one of the most anxiety ridden times of the year. The nominating taskforce is concerned with not only getting the people to fill spots, but perhaps more importantly, the right people to answer God’s calling. Today, I will discuss the specific calling to be a Ruling Elder.
    A few years ago, Christ Presbyterian Church made a conscious effort to be more fully open to the leading and discernment of the Spirit in this process. In the past, like most congregations, our congregation would approach the selection of Elders by trying to find people who were going to be Elders for specific areas of our ministry. Examples of this would have been an Elder for Finance or Christian Education. In this model, the ability to fulfill a specific role would often trump the spiritual calling to such a leadership role. I’m sure that you have experienced in you life those who are at the top of their field for their ability, but once given leadership, fall apart. Continue reading

Responding to Tragedy… O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (God IS With US!)

     This past week has been a hard one for our country and the world.  While violence is ever present in our lives and we see daily reminders of how shockingly horrible we can treat each other, the events of Friday in Newtown shone a spotlight on just how deep our sin has cut us.  In the aftermath of these tragic killings and many like it, there is always an over abundance of talking heads who seek to use the death of others to advance their positions.  “Gun control” advocates come on and talk about how new laws would  may have prevented this event.  “Gun rights” advocates are on the other side of the split screen talking about how if the teachers had guns they could have stopped the gunman. 

     I agree that in the midst of this tragedy there is a calling to have deep conversations about guns, violence and the mental health system.  Some of my colleagues have chosen this time as that time.  Roy Howard, Pastor of St. Marks Presbyterian in North Bethesda, Maryland for one, made an impassioned response and a call to action against violence and calling for more Gun Control.  Please email me and I can pass along his Facebook post of what he said to his congregation.  Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, has chosen to use this situation to draw attention to his beliefs about abortion and homosexuality.  For many Pastors, their judgment led them to use this event as a springboard for what they hope will be meaningful discussions about deep issues.

     I had more than one parishioner say to me prior to Sunday’s service, “I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes today.”  Continue reading

Thoughts On The Acts 16:5 Initiative: “So the churches were strengthened in faith and increased in numbers daily.”

I have mentioned Stan Ott’s name in worship and discussions over the past few years. Stan is the President of the Vital Churches Institute (VCI) and his passion is the transformation

of the mainline church. Stan teaches the principles of congregational vitality, transformation, missional endeavor, and leadership. As pastor, Stan has over thirty years of first-hand knowledge of the hard work and challenges that lead to the blessings of being a transformational congregation that moves to new vitality.

You have also heard me talk about the Acts 16:5 Initiative. The Initiative is an intentional program of congregational transformation. Continue reading

Maundy Thursday- Christ Shows Us How to Be Servant

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x.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/communion.jpg” alt=”” width=”200″ height=”104″ />Tonight we remember the events of the upper room. Jesus displays his love and care for his disciples in physical ways. First Jesus humbles himself before the disciples by washing their feet. Then he gives them a new way to spiritually connect with him through the Communion meal. Jesus reminds us that it is in service we find the truest expression of God’s love. Washing and serving at table. How do we take up this call to servanthood? Reflect on this question as you view this video from Worshiphouse.com and join us tonight at 7:30 for our Maundy Thursday Worship Service.