Seven months ago we opened up nominations for elders and deacons at JVC. Fourteen people received the required two nominations to be considered for training; through the initial vetting process six emerged as having the character, calling, and desire for the role of elder or deacon. The training was intense, and I was humbled to watch these six candidates (for Elder: Walt Lynch, Nate McNeil and Shaun Murray; for Deacon: Robert Blair, Jake Hehr and David Sunwall) complete all the work and embrace the seriousness of their calling. Let me share with you some of the highlights. They all have:
Been assessed in their character and leadership by their wives. We asked, “Would the church be a better or worse place if your husband cared for the church like he cares for you?”
Been assessed by a peer (co-worker, neighbor, etc) for their character. We asked, “Would you have a higher or lower opinion of our church upon finding out he was a leader in our church?”
Completed the same Bible content exam used by our presbytery to assess future pastors.
Read more than 1000 pages of theological books.
Written more than 20 pages of response papers.
Met with each other for one-on-one discipling.
The deacon candidates organized and led a church workday.
Each of the elder candidates:
Preached a sermon.
Planned and led two worship services.
Taught an adult class.
Wrote a newsletter.
We’ve taken this training seriously because we believe the care of the church is a serious calling. It requires work, determination and perseverance. Most of all, it requires people who love God and desire to live for him and who show that in their daily relationships. It’s been a great honor to work with these men and see them grow and develop their own sense of calling to this work of caring for Christ’s bride, the Church.
On May 19th, you have the privilege of voting these men into office. I’ve shared with you some of what has gone into the training so that you can have confidence that we’ve closely examined their character, calling and competency for this office. If I had the ability, I would welcome each one of them into church leadership today, but one of the privileges of being Presbyerian is that you get to pick your leaders. As we approach this meeting, please be praying for God to give you wisdom. We’ve assessed a lot, yet we cannot know what’s in a man’s heart. Pray that God would prevent anyone from coming into leadership who shouldn’t be, but also pray that God would lay a strong calling on the hearts of each one of these men if they are meant to be there. If you haven’t gotten to know these candidates yet, please say hi to them and ask them any questions.
Just a year ago I was praying for God to bless our church with the gift of church leaders (Eph. 4:11). I certainly did not expect that God would so richly answer this prayer. Please join me in giving thanks to God who cares and provides for his church.