There have been some questions of late (both at Crossroads Friends Church and from other church planters / pastors) about how Crossroads Friends Church utilizes the office of elder. We hold this office in high regard and are blessed with strong men who are intent to follow Christ, and to lead the church in the manner in which Paul outlines in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. We believe that the office of “elder” is reserved for strong men in the church who are exemplar Christians, husbands, fathers, and citizens. I am honored to serve alongside these men, and am humbled each time they refer to me as “their pastor.”
In an effort to lead the church well, we must not only be those who spend extensive time with Jesus, but also those who know the shape and condition of the flock with which we have been entrusted with by Jesus. One of the ways we do this is by the unconventional manner in which we conduct our elder meetings.
Our elder meetings may not look like those that occur at your church, and we are still on a journey of exploration and discovery, but in an attempt at full-disclosure, I wanted to share with you how we do it.
Our elder families gather for a “family dinner” at a home each month and we enjoy wonderful fellowship over a meal and the kids play, wrestle, and roll on the floor. After the meal, we sit around the same table with the same sense of fellowship and discuss the issues pertinent to that meeting. One of the greatest joys of this time is that we are blessed with the additional perspectives of our wives whose wisdom is welcome and encouraged.
But does that in essence, make the wives elders?
The leadership of the church mirrors God’s design for the leadership of the home. Just as the husband leads the home with the wisdom and input from his wife, we believe that this improves the leadership of the church. Most times, the husband and wife can make decisions jointly without the need for the wife’s submission to the husband’s authority. Others, however, require her to trust her husband to follow God and lead the family.
In this same way, as we gather at elder meetings, we appreciate the insight and wisdom of our wives, but when the need arises to make a difficult decision – one that may be less than popular – we look to the men to make the final decision in the counsel of God’s Word.
Isn’t this a little narrow-minded and chauvinistic?
We don’t believe so.
We believe that God created men and women to be partners in every area of life (including ministry) – just as he created us with complimentary right and left hands. Women are encouraged to use their spiritual gifts and natural abilities for God’s glory to their fullest extent. But a literal reading of Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2:11-3:5 withholds eldership as a male office. We truly love and cherish the women of Crossroads, and we hope to honor them not asking them to stand in the gap of leadership left vacant by weak men, and by freeing them to serve and lead in the manner for which they were created.