Selecting Shepherds in 2014: A Congregational Exercise in Spiritual Growth
A bit of a departure from our usual use of this space: A chance to speak to us all as a church on the importance of the next few weeks.
This is the year for what has become our biennial shepherd selection process. That means that we have some decisions to make about who will lead this church and how it will be led. We have the chance to see if God is raising up others among us to serve as elders.
In 2004, we began using a system for shepherd selection that was predicated on a number of principles:
· That the congregation as a whole should be involved in selecting its leaders (and would want to be involved);
· That the congregation as a whole—having been reminded of the scriptural teachings on leadership among God’s people and having prayed about the matter—was wise enough to see who among us is following in the steps of Jesus in a way that the rest of us want to follow him;
· That God through his Spirit could and would superintend such a process as we bathed the process in prayer;
· That being appointed an elder was not like being appointed to a Federal judgeship: no one was to serve longer than four years without the congregation prayerfully reaffirming that this is someone who is leading us in the steps of Jesus;
· That through participating in the process, all members would be able to feel that our elders were not “the church’s” elders, but “our” elders; and
· That through participating in the process, all of us would have a clearer vision of who we are supposed to be in Christ.
The current leadership wants to encourage all of us to participate in this process. If you are a member of this congregation, you are not too young in years or too old, too new to this place or too long in place. You are not without a voice in this!
We want that to be an informed voice. Here’s how you can be an informed participant:
· Read over the summary of the process we will follow.
· Listen to (and process, alone or with others) the sermon of September 28.
· If at all possible, be part of the combined adult Bible classes October 5, 12, and 19 where we’ll think further about the Biblical teachings on leadership of God’s people (we will try to have recordings of these available on the website as soon as possible so that you may catch up if cannot be present).
· Above all, pray for the process (that God’s will for this church will be clear and compelling in the results of the process), pray for God to show you clearly who he has prepared and is raising up for leadership, and that those he is calling to serve through this process will be willing and able to serve joyfully and conscientiously.
Please don’t think of this as a pause in our life of striving to spread the aroma of Christ. Rather: The ultimate desire is that our church’s shepherd selection process enhances the life of this church, that we come out on the other end more deeply committed to follow together in the steps of Jesus Christ, and that Southeastern continues in its efforts not merely to exist but truly to be an outpost of God’s Kingdom, spreading the aroma of Christ. As such, this will be a way we continue to grow in Christ.
Shepherd Selection Process (Abridged)
Southeastern Church of Christ Fall, 2014
The process involves the congregation in five phases: Information, Nomination, Examination, Confirmation, and Dedication. The whole process is dependent upon God’s blessing as we seek to follow his leading in selecting spiritual men to lead this congregation.
Phase One – Information
The purpose of the Information phase is to assure that the congregation understands:
- The Selection Process itself
A committee will be appointed by the current elders to superintend the selection process.
- The Qualities and Role of Shepherds—Teaching will be provided to the entire congregation to assure that we have the opportunity to hear and understand what scripture teaches about spiritual leadership in the church.
Phase Two – Nomination
The purpose of the nomination phase is to encourage the congregation to prayerfully consider who God is calling to serve as shepherds. Nomination Forms will be distributed to the congregation to help identify those whom the congregation is “calling out” to serve as spiritual leaders.
In addition to this formal nomination process, the currently serving elders may draw from their knowledge of the congregation to present additional names to the members for their examination.
Phase Three – Examination
This phase is 1) to provide the committee time to process names, and 2) for the congregation to prayerfully consider the initial list of names presented by the committee.
After the committee has processed the nomination forms, they will ask the current elders for their input and insight regarding these men. It is at this point in the process that the elders may choose to add additional names to the list. Prospective shepherds will meet with both the committee and current elders to jointly explore this opportunity to serve.
Then names of potential shepherds will be presented to the church. Members will then have at least two weeks to alert the Committee of any spiritual basis upon which to challenge the appointment of one of these men.
Phase Four – Confirmation
A Confirmation Form will be distributed to the congregation. Every member will have the opportunity either to affirm (“yes”), reject (“no”), or simply indicate “I don’t know” for each prospective elder. The committee will process these responses, and present a list of new shepherds for appointment. (For any prospective elder to be selected as a new shepherd for the congregation, he must receive an affirmative (“yes”) response on at least 75% of the Forms returned.
Phase Five – Dedication
A Dedication ceremony will occur during a Sunday morning assembly, to charge the new shepherds to fulfill their God-given responsibilities (Titus 1.7-9; Acts 20.28; 1 Peter 5.2), and to challenge the church to follow the leadership of its shepherds (1 Thessalonians 5.12-13; 1 Timothy 5.17; Hebrews 13.17).
NOTE: A more detailed explanation of the process will be available at the Welcome Center for you to pick up should you desire it.