Last year when the church introduced its membership, I was thrilled. I had never been a part of a church where I was an active member. Yes, I was a member according to the records; but I had no clue on what I was part of. What the church believed in, what I was getting into etc., My parents were a member of the AG church so I was a member in the same church. It did not make any sense to me other than the fact that I used to attend that church, when in town. So, when the membership finally came into action I made a choice to be a member. An active member. When I signed the covenant, I wanted to do what it said. Not only did I know that I was giving myself to the authority of the church, I also knew that I was a part of the church and I have a part to play.
We learned from the Bible that the church disciplines the church, the church encourages the church, the church edifies the church, the church affirms its leaders, and the church plays an important role in its functioning. I am a part of the church. I need to play my role.
Last member’s meeting when the possible elder candidates were put forth, I knew that I have 3 months of time to decide and vote. I knew that this was the time when I had to play my part as a member. There were a lot of questions that I had to answer. I will try to explain what I did and why I did so in order to come to my decision, the voting of the elders.
When the elder candidates were announced, there was a sort of thrill in me. I knew that this is what we had been preparing for years and finally the time has come when we are moving forward from one elder to a plurality of elders. This is the God given design and it is good. From all the years of being in CCube, even if I have not learnt anything, one thing for sure I know I have learnt: search scriptures to find answers. Scripture is sufficient and relevant. As my mind wandered and tried to find on how I should vote, I was reminded to go back to scripture which teaches us the whole concept of the plurality of elders. I read through the passages Titus 1, 1 Peter 5, 1 Timothy 3, I wrote down all the qualifications that the Bible has for the elders. I then used this to grade the candidates for elder role. Now it might sound a little geeky or what I am an excel sheet person. I created one in which I had all the qualifications mentioned and the elder candidates against it and graded them. Yes you read it right. I graded them! I realized that this will be the first of the many elders that I will be voting for and I did not want to go through the whole process again. To make my life simpler I did a little bit of extra work. So the next time we have an elder to be voted for, I will use my excel sheet! Task simplified.
As I put in the requirements in my excel sheet, I realized that sometimes, I might not know much about a particular elder who stands to be voted. I might have known these persons as good people, but do I know if they qualify the requirements of the Bible? Or just the fact that they are the most prominent faces in the church: the ones leading worship, preaching etc., they qualify to be voted in? I knew that I had to use the Bible. This meant that I had to watch their lives to see if what the Bible is asking for is revealed in their lives. So I took these months to carefully watch them. I thought about the various events in the past. I looked for evidence of God’s favour in their lives. I wanted to be sure that my vote was in line with what I saw from the Bible. I did not want to be complacent. Just because the pastor nominated them for elder role I did not want to take things for granted. I studied the passages. I took time to see if I was making the right choice. Yes, ultimately it is God who appoints His people but I am also asked to play my part as a member. I wanted to obey God and trust Him that he would help me decide. That His plan would come to pass.
Reading a Book
From the last member’s meeting my mind had been on the decision that I had to make. As I looked through the library (I thank God for a husband who loves books, good books, I can be sure to find books on the topics that I find myself wanting to learn more), I found the book – “Elders in Congregational life”- Phil A Newton.
Why re-invent the wheel? If someone has done the hard work and given to us in an easy format to chew why not use it?
So picked up the book and started to read it. It was of great help. As I read through it, I took down some more things. Things that I wanted to rate these candidates against.
Listening to the sermon
This is still pending on my to-do list.
I would be listening to this sermon before I make my final voting decision. I remember that we had a Sunday sermon on the elder and I would be surely hearing it. I am sure it will be a good source to concrete/influence my decision.
Like the Petra songs says “Get on your knees and fight like a man”, I believe that prayer is the backbone. Many times I keep prayer as my last resort. But this time, this has been one of my firsts. As I am reminded of this decision to make, I ask God to help, to help me see things that I ought to see that will influence my decision. I pray that I will not be biased. I pray that I will vote and God will bring His people in the elder panel. I pray that the panel of elders would together help the church move forward for the glory of God. I pray that I will not take hasty and uninformed decisions. I pray that my fellow church members will also not take this lightly. I pray that this big step will glorify God like it is supposed to. I pray and pray that God will be glorified in all our endeavors.
Trusting in God
“Trust the Lord your God and lean not on your own understanding” – Proverbs 3: 5
I want to trust God, knowing fully well, that nothing happens without Him being in charge. I want to trust God that this is God’s doing and we are moving forward in the direction that the Bible calls us to. I want to trust God to help each one of us vote right to His glory. I want to just trust in Him.
Having said all this I want to encourage each one of my brothers and sisters who are reading this post to not take this voting lightly. Yes, it is just a click of a button; but let us not use it to show our membership status but let us take the voting seriously. Let us use these last few days before the member’s meeting to carefully consider our vote. Let us make our decision with Scripture as authority. Let us look for evidences of God’s favor on these people’s lives. Let us listen to the sermon (for those of us who find it difficult to gather info from the Bible). Let us pray, every time we remember, that God will help us decide and that His name will be glorified. Let us trust in God for His work. Finally let us encourage another friend by probably reminding them that the time is near to vote. As I decide on my vote I pray that each one of us will take this seriously and vote prayerfully and fully well informed of what we are doing.