I so enjoy 9 Marks and their ministry to strengthen the local church. As Ephesians 3:10 says that the church is the instrument through which “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”
In this issue, 9 Marks addresses Lay Leaders: A User’s Guide, Part I. Below is Jonathan Leeman’s introduction:
Do you want to know, like, the coolest thing? I live in a city where there are lots of powerful people. Big timers, you know. And some of those big timers show up in our church on Capitol Hill—the movers and shakers. So do the people who work for those big timers—the schmoozing and the sweaty. What’s cool about that? Nothing. What’s cool it that these positions are not exalted in our church; being an elder is! The office of elder is held up and given honor. Praise the Lord, right?
You might be a journalist, a lobbyist, a congressional staffer, an army general, or a partner in a law firm. But in the social economy of the church, none of that matters. What counts is your character and knowledge of the Scriptures. Ambitious young men enter the church, but if they have Holy Spirit-softened hearts, they begin desiring different things. They come to D.C. driven to succeed, but somewhere along the way they become ambitious about leading a small group, sharing the gospel, showing hospitality, helping the hurting, and teaching God’s Word, even if it means sacrifices to their career. I could name dozens: Chris, Bill, Scott, Eric, Michael, David, Dave, Randy, Steve, Papu, Sebastian, Klon, Greg…want me to keep going?
I am not talking about the men who leave their careers to enter vocational ministry. I am talking about the men who remain in their careers, but who begin to shepherd anyway. These are the men I admire so much. They move from the big prestigious firm to the small peripheral firm; they take the pay cut; they let themselves get passed over for promotion. Why? Because they love the sheep, and they cannot help but spend the time it takes to shepherd sheep.
This issue of the 9Marks Journal and the next are devoted to these men: lay elders, or the pastors that a church doesn’t pay, because they do all their work in the evenings and weekends. In this issue, Jeramie Rinne and Sebastian Traeger lay out the basic expectations for the job. Garrett Kell and Michael McKinley offer counsel on raising up such men within the flock. And Garrett, Steve Boyer, and I offer a few thoughts on equipping them once the work has begun.
In January, we will come back to address the relationship between staff and lay elders, the besetting sins of lay elders, building unity and friendship among the elders, and other practical matters. Stay tuned!
— Jonathan Leeman
Your ecclesiology may not permit the notion of elder-led leadership in the church, but a significant case can be made for it and still remain Baptist (as my background entails) and congregational.
Enjoy—and Happy Thanksgiving!