At the end of our worship service on Sunday morning Mike Rehm shared that, after serving as an elder for 17 years at Whitton Avenue Bible Church, he is ready to step down from that role and enjoy being a regular member of the body. Mike, Peter Kinkel (also an elder), and I have been talking about this desire in Mike’s heart for a number of months. While Peter and I will miss Mike’s wise, compassionate input in our elder meetings, we warmly affirm this step he is taking in obedience to the Lord.
What does this mean for leadership at Whitton Avenue? This time last year we had four elders and now we have two. This gives Peter and me a healthy sense of concern as we consider what it means to “Pay careful attention to…all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts20:28). We are realistic about the limited ability of two men to pay careful attention to all the flock, to “keep watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account” (Hebrews 13:17). Ideally we will add 2-3 more elders to the board. However, we want to do so in a deliberate, prayerful way. Paul instructed Timothy, “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands” (1 Timothy 5:22), and we want to heed that in how we identify new elders.
As we prayed about next steps to take, it seemed wise to reach out to others for immediate help in caring for the flock while prayerfully considering the addition of new elders. In the New Testament, the group that assisted the elders in serving the needs of the body were the deacons. We spoke with our existing deacons about our need for their increased involvement and talked to proven brothers about becoming deacons. On Sunday we prayed over two brothers, Bob Brown and Jason Stinson, who have agreed to serve alongside our current deacons: Jerome Rokey, Steve Kinkel, and Greg Kinkel. These brothers have agreed to meet with the elders once every other week to study God’s word, pray for our church, and discuss the needs of the flock. As the elders, Peter and I will continue to be the leaders responsible for decisions that need to be made but we respect these brothers greatly and will lean on their perspective and counsel. We had our first meeting of elders and deacons this week and I walked away deeply grateful for the seriousness these men bring to their personal walk with God, their particular roles at Whitton Avenue, and their commitment to glorify God through worship, nurture, and mission.
God is at work at Whitton Avenue Bible Church. He is challenging many to take initiative and serve in new capacities, both officially and unofficially. He is challenging all of us to be a people who pay close attention to hearing the gospel of Christ every day and, with faith fixed on Jesus, to walk by faith rather than by sight. I believe 2014 is going to be a phenomenal year for our church as we continue to seek his presence as our center of gravity. Toward this end, please pray for your elders and deacons. Pray that we would be more and more like Jesus: gentle, lowly in heart, and serving with sacrificial love. Finally, ask God how he would have you serve in new ways during this new year.
Thankful for our church family,