Thursday, December 2, 2010
The Key Personnel of Middleberry Church
As Middleberry's (formerly half of GracePoint) doors opened that first year, excitement was everywhere especially with Pastor Keith. But alongside his excitement there was exhaustion. For the short history of the church Keith had labored on his own. The workload had become much larger than he had anticipated. Like the great posse's of western films; enter in the Eldership. But who serves as elders in a brand new church?
To be clear: God places the highest importance on Biblical Eldership. The elders are to be leaders in the Church; God's representative to the Church (not the other way around). Elders are the visionaries and the shepherds of the body. Elders are teachers and servers. God places His Church in their able hands: a great gift indeed.
Pastor Keith chose carefully whom he would surround himself with and the leadership he would associate with. He chose men who had previously served in an eldership role at GracePoint. GracePoint had a differing view of eldership. The elders were viewed more as business associates than visionaries. They were more managers than shepherds. GracePoint asked a lot of their elders: monthly Elder meetings lasting into the late hours of the night; monthly fellowship gatherings; weekly speaking and lesson planning. The standards were high at GracePoint.
As noted earlier the appeal of Middleberry was that it wasn't GracePoint. The elders at Middleberry would have none of these responsibilities. They wanted no meetings, no responsibilities, and no expectations placed on them when it comes to shepherding and teaching. Whatever the elders would do at Middleberry was out of their own ambition. GracePoint's elders were asked to provide direction and vision; Middleberry's were asked when service was. The elders at GracePoint were asked to provide job expectations and provide support for the staff; Middleberry's were asked to sit on dunk tanks and escort people to their seats on Sunday morning.
Middleberry's eldership asked/allowed Pastor Keith to do the leading/dreaming/and visionering. They (the elders) were ecstatic with their new role (or lack there of). God's men of leadership were reduced to spectators in the life of this Church and that's the way they wanted it. They would be called in in extreme cases; but would never be asked to do what God had intended for them. They had swung the pendulum from GracePoint’s extreme to the other.
What Middleberry was attempting to do was to save their elders from responsibility and in doing so made them a cheap imitation of what God had really desired for them. Sadly enough, the Church would suffer from this decision. What Middleberry was doing was sitting itself up to lose influence and their foundation in taking to the congregation they were to lead.
Very quickly would the few responsibilities given these elders vanish into nothing but their names being mentioned in the weekly newsletter. One would move out of state and remain an elder; another would only attend church on a monthly basis. The eldership would gradually be reduced to a few men having coffee. These elders were great men of God, but like many before us, would lose their God-given purpose and responsibilities by choosing the path of least resistance.
The first year for Middlebery Church would be the last one in which a vision would be present…