One month from now, we'll be holding a conference here at Clearnote Church, Bloomington, titled "Elders Who Rule Well." We'll start on Wednesday, February 19, with a Texas-style BBQ dinner where you'll get to chow down on the world-renowned Chasteen Brothers smoked BBQ meats which regularly grace our rehearsal dinners, weddings, and other feasts. If you're a pastor, elder, deacon, or you aspire to serve the church as one of her officers, you should set aside the time and join us.
After dinner and fellowship, we'll have our first message, "You Cannot Do It Alone: Elders are a blessing." This will focus on the protection and comfort what has historically been referred to as "the plurality of the eldership" is to the pastor. Every wise pastor will take joy in having a good number of fellow elders lead the church, rather than bearing this responsibility himself. When there's a plurality of elders (we have fifteen), the pastor himself will receive counsel, support, and discipline. We cannot, we ought not, lead the church alone.
Following the message Thursday evening, we'll have some time for fellowship.
Thursday morning, we'll have our second message, "Fathers in God's House: Elders must be good fathers." This will focus on the recovery of fatherhood in the church...
by looking at Scripture's command that every potential elder be examined for skill and faithfulness in his fatherhood in his own home. Truth is, elders are simply church fathers, just as Titus 2 women are simply church mothers—"mothers in Israel." How then can any church find men to nominate for officership when none of us (other than Ted Tripp) are good fathers? That's the teaser. Come and find out.
Following lunch, we'll have our third message, "The Bond of Peace: Elders must keep the peace." Peacekeeping is a vastly underrated skill set. Especially within the eldership. This is the reason we titled the conference so negatively, "Elders Who Rule Well."
Rule? Who wants to rule? Who wants to be ruled? Are we clueless to use such a pejorative term in our title?
For years I've known and appreciated the work of my friend, Ken Sande, but I used to say to Ken that, along with his emphasis on "Peacemaking," he should promote "Church discipline." Of course, "ruling" and "church discipline" aren't big sellers among Evangelicals. Everything has to be sold to us in soft colors and quiet tones.
Meanwhile all Hell runs loose in our homes and churches.
We'd do well to wake up to the fact that church officers are most faithful at peacemaking when we rule. And least faithful when we argue over money and budgets and staffing and schedules and dates and mission statements. The real peacemaking is done by elders who give themselves to governing, who "judge those who are within the church" and "remove the wicked man" from the congregation (1Corinthians 5:12,13), who "refute those who contradict" (Titus 1:9), who "reject a factious man" (Titus 3:10), and who instruct the rich men of the church "not to be conceited" (1Timothy 6:17).
These are the elders who rule well. And only elders who rule well will be able to say with the Apostle Paul, "I am innocent of the blood of all men" (Acts 20:26).
Which brings us to our fourth and final message, "Blood on Our Hands: Innocent of the blood of all men." Blood guilt or blood innocence are the stakes in the work of the ministry. Souls hang in the balance during sermons, of course; but also during session meetings. God will judge our work and we will be found guilty of the blood of immortal souls created in the Image of God, or innocent of the blood of immortal souls created in the Image of God.
Now then, you want to join us, right? Well, regardless of your heart's desire, you know you should join us. Where else are you going to find these Biblical truths and warnings confessed? Gospel Coalition?
Fahgettaboudit. Which is to say, we have a corner on this market.
We've put a couple other incentives into the conference to help you want to come.
First, Thursday afternoon those interested will go over to the Lilly Library to see some of its historic Bibles.1 And second, we've added time for fellowship, including setting aside all of Thursday evening for male flourishing.
So register now and join us! By God's grace, you'll return home strengthened for your work, and that will make your good wife happy!