Jump Start # 3254
Acts 20:30 “and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them.”
Recently, I spent a Saturday morning with our shepherds teaching a class about shepherding. This is one of my favorite topics and I am very passionate about it. Shepherding the people of God, was the title I put on the booklet I made for them. One of the lessons was about unity among the shepherds.
Often when we speak about unity, it’s on a grand scale. Unity among the flock is preached often, and it should be. But, on a more specific scale, there must be unity among the leaders. There must be unity within the eldership. There needs to be unity between the preachers. And, there needs to be unity between the preachers and the shepherds. Everyone on the same page, that’s what this is about.
Here is why this is so important:
First, just like at home, some will go to one and if they don’t get the answer they want, they will go to another. Kids try this with mom and dad. And, unless mom and dad are on the same page, mixed signals are given and the kids quickly learn which one will say “Yes.” It’s the same way in the church. If the shepherds are not on the same page, some will find the one elder that will give them a green light and they will continue to go to that elder. It is important for the shepherds to be united, one mind, one voice.
Second, the nature of a plurality of elders does not mean each one acts independent and makes decisions on his own without first talking things through with the others. What a disaster happens when an eldership is not united. One elder decides he doesn’t like the preacher, so he fires him. Another elder decides that he does like that preacher so he hires him back. Back and forth, so confusing, and the church just spins in circles. With three elders or five elders, it’s not three or five independent voices deciding things. They must speak as one.
To do this, there must be great communication, transparency and trust among the shepherds. When one hears of things that involves the church or impacts the church, that needs to be shared among them. No secrets. No, “I know something that you don’t.” Emails and texts ought to be passing back and forth throughout the week as they work together to lead the flock of God.
There also needs to be some Bible studies among the elders on key doctrinal themes that they often face with leading the flock. The very idea of shepherds studying together is novel for so many. And, because of that, when things do come up, discussions can be heated, uncomfortable and members left wondering about the leadership. On the same page about discipline. On the same page about divorce. On the same page about the function and role of the church. On the same page about social drinking. On the same page about modesty. On the same page about worship. Sitting across a table with a couple who are wanting to place membership and suddenly there is a disagreement among the shepherds about a pivotal issue leads to all kinds of trouble in the future. Have those studies, if you haven’t. Talk it out. Study the Scriptures. Come to an agreement about what the Bible teaches. Be one mind, one voice, united.
Third, division among the leaders often destroys the leadership. Unable to resolve differences, some resign. Some move to another place. And, the church suffers. Taking out the leaders is an old, old tactic of Satan. With no one at the helm, the church drifts. No one leading, no one feeding, no one watching, and the wolves move in.
Before new shepherds are appointed, it would be healthy and good to sit down with the current shepherds and get everyone on the same page. No intimidation. No bullying. But openness, honesty and Biblically looking at the very things that impact sheep.
Our verse today, Paul’s warnings to the Ephesian elders, illustrates a division among them. From among them, some would arise and lead people away. There were two immediate problems. First, they would be speaking perverse things. That word means, “crooked.” It wasn’t straight. Not straight with God and not straight with God’s word. That implies that there was a division of thought among them. Secondly, there was an arrogant motive listed. They were trying to draw disciples after them. It wasn’t truth that they were striving for. It was a following. Those men should have never been in that eldership.
Shepherds must trust each other. There is no pecking order within the eldership. The closer the eldership becomes to each other and the stronger their bonds are, the more apparent to the church that unity runs through the hearts of their leaders.
Unity among the shepherds. That’s something that ought to be preached! More so, that’s something that ought to be practiced.