Last Wednesday, I posted a short list of 5 things that elders need to hear regularly. But this helpful communication cannot be a one-way street.
There are many congregations where members feel as if they do not hear from the elders, except when (1) there is a change in the staff, (2) an elder is being appointed or resigning, or (3) there is a great need for money. While that may not be completely true, without intentional effort by the pastors, it can certainly seem that way.
Further, if elders just say, “If you’d ever like to attend one of our meetings, feel free,” they are going to get virtually no response, and members will still feel frustrated at the lack of communication.
This week, then, I’d like to share five things that every member needs to hear from each of the elders on a regular basis.
- Hello, [Name]. People need to know that their shepherds know them, by name! The larger a congregation gets, the more challenging it is, but shepherds need to at least know the names of the sheep. The more personal information a pastor knows, the more people feel at ease around him, and the more conversation can flow freely.
- How Can I Pray for You? I know that elders pray for the congregation, including individual needs. Still, it is reassuring when an elder specifically asks how he can take my concerns and my victories before the throne of God. Further, it helps him be a better shepherd, as he sees what is truly on the heart of individual members.
- How Can I be a Better Shepherd to Your Family? There may be a less awkward way to ask this question, but families need to know that their shepherds are not just a cold board of directors. Is there a ballgame I can visit? Is there a problem I can help you with? Is there something in Bible class your children have been studying that I can help them learn? These types of questions shepherd the souls of families.
- Would You Like to Visit? Instead of calling people into some formal meeting, ask if people would like to come to your house for a visit, or go out to eat together. And these times do not have to be filled with questions about church work. It provides people a chance to just get to know you and see your love for them. Elders cannot just meet in board rooms. They need to greet people in living rooms and around dinner tables, but they need to step up and make the invitation.
- Your Soul is the Most Valuable Thing in the World. Too often, elders are perceived to be more concerned about budgets, building projects, and staffing than about the highest calling in the world: helping the souls of men and women. People in the church need to see that, while air conditioning units and parking lots have to be discussed, their souls are where your top priorities are. They need to hear that from you regularly, so they can keep their focus on the most important thing, too.
Solid and regular communication from elders is not only important, it is vital. Members do not just need to hear “dictates from on high.” They need to be personally and warmly greeted by their shepherds over and over again.
I firmly believe that, if an eldership would make it a point to say things like we have just listed above, a congregation’s attitude and work ethic would change, virtually overnight. Elders, it is worth the effort.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn