Church Developments

I've had this written for a few days now, but I've been hesitant to post it. I know at least two members of my church read this blog regularly, and I fear both hurting their faith and, to be honest, a potential backlash at me for publicizing these thoughts and opinions. But this blog is for me to help work out what I feel and believe, express myself, vent a little and solicit input. As always, these words represent me alone and do not in any way represent my church or its leadership.

Thursday night we've had another of our Deacons' meetings. I'm not sure why I call it that. It's more than just the Deacons, it's our ministry staff (main minister and campus minister) as well and another respected member of the congregation, but some how "Deacons, Ministry Staff and Another Guy Meeting" doesn't have a good ring to it.

Anyway, we had one Thursday. We've been meeting every other Thursday since the end of May, and it's been quite good. At the beginning, it was just a little weird for me. The six of us have some pretty different perspectives on our church and where we need to go from here. All in all, however, it's been a good six months. We've grown much closer together. Going in, I only had a decent relationship with one of these men, now I can honestly say I feel close to all of them.

Thursday night, however, was a bit unsettling for me. When we started this, we started with the idea of having a team leadership. The deacons went to the lead minister and sort of demanded, respectfully, to be included in the decision making. There would not be a single leader, we would lead as a team. I loved this idea. I've seen first hand in the ICoC what a strong, one man leadership can do. It can surely move a church, but it can also squash opposing views and trample on those who see things differently. A team approach would mean that the diversity of our leadership could be put to good use in directing the church. One man's blindness would be counteracted by another's vision. That was the ideal anyway.

On Thursday our main minister or evangelist, spoke up against the idea of team leadership as we've been practicing it. This came on the heels of the meeting two weeks ago. He was out of town and a couple other men couldn't make it. The four of us spoke about the state of the church in light of some news of more folks leaving the church. We had a great talk at that meeting and came up with some ideas on how to change some of our structure and meetings to meet some needs and to move the church toward stronger relationships and deeper Bible study. I typed up a summary and emailed it to the group, explaining our conclusion and soliciting the thoughts of the men who were not there. Our intention was not to exclude the others, nor to make decisions without them, but we did come to a consensus ourselves on what we thought. In hindsight, my summary was probably too conclusive.

So he thought that perhaps we had gone beyond what we should have. Not just in that incident two weeks prior, but over time. He referred back to the appointment of the deacons, about a year ago, saying we were appointed to specific areas of ministry (children, poor, campus and administration) not to a broad leadership role. He thought we had gotten away from our focus on specific areas of serving and had taken on a larger role than we were given. He said that he did not see a team approach to leadership in the scriptures, that it was the evangelist who led the church until such time as there were elders in place. We have no elders, so it was his role to lead, not the group's. His thought was that this was a better plan because, as our group has demonstrated, group leadership can lead to paralysis, lack of focus and stagnation.

Well, to say I was surprised would be an understatement. I did not see this coming. A plethora of emotions were running through my mind. He went to great lengths to reassure us that he was not trying to take over or grab power. He has grown to appreciate our meetings greatly and plans to rely on us for support and advice. He would be a fool, he said, to ignore our council, and other mature men in the church, in leading the church. He emphatically expressed his desire to involve us in the decision making process.

After a silent prayer for wisdom, patience and restraint :-), I spoke up. I acknowledged that I was pretty attached to the team leadership model and that there were some emotions involved that were probably clouding my judgment. I expressed an agreement that we had been distracted from our core responsibilities as deacons. I also agreed that we had become bogged down in an aimless leadership style that had not been serving the more pressing needs of the church. On the face of it, I did not necessarily object to the idea of him leading the church, nor do I doubt his sincerity in wanting to involve the deacons. My biggest concern was how are we practically going to move forward under such a plan? How would the deacons be involved in the leadership of the church? I am very much concerned that their influence and role will be diluted and marginalized. Now, I must check my heart here. I see in myself a little desire for power, a want to be influential and to have a say in everything. I have a control streak and I must acknowledge it and crucify it. But the deacons were appointed based on their heart, their lives, their character and their service to the church. They absolutely should be involved in the decision making and direction of the church, they have helped build this church. I am greatly concerned about how we make this happen. My fear is that without some formal definition of the roles and responsibiliies of deacon, minister and evangelist, and a plan to move forward together, we will revert to the old paradigm of one man leading, getting advice sporadicaly as he goes and as he sees fit, as opposed to consistent, active group involvement in the decision making.

Let me clarify a couple of things. First, I realize that as a deacon myself I am tooting my own horn a bit. Let me say, that I think that these principals apply to whomever is in that role. If there is a consensus that I am not qualified to be there, so be it, I will step down. It is not about me, it's about what's appropriate and best for the church and I believe that a strong leadership is a broad and diverse leadership. Second, do not misunderstand my words as criticism of our lead minister. It is not. I trust that he desires what's best for the church. I agree with much of what he has said. I do not doubt that he respects the deacons and me personally and desires to involve us. He has said so emphatically and I take him at his word.

I've said some strong things here, but they're not directed at anyone in particular. They are simply because I feel strongly for this church. I have been here from the beginning and I've helped build it. 16 years ago I pledged my life to God and His church and I take that commitment seriously. My wife and I dropped everything and moved here 8 years ago to begin this church. We came with big dreams to build a congregation that would meet the needs of men and glorify God. I've watched over the past few years as those dreams have faltered. I've been frustrated at the leadership's, myself included, inability to stem the tide of men and women compelled to leave our fellowship. We've been fumbling with other, less important issues while people continue leaving. Why can't we seem to get it together and shore up the foundation to protect God's people and God's name? Only then will we be able to build again.

As far as a leadership team of equals or a strong evangelist, I'm not convinced there is a 'right' way. I don't see in scripture a prescription for how, specifically, to put together a church leadership. There is no place to find the roles laid out in plain, concrete language, like a job description. It seems that God left this open somewhat (outside of the ultimate goal of leadership by elders) to our discression. While I feel that a team approach is quite valuable, I cannot say that it is God ordained. What I don't know is if the contention that leadership by evangelist is God ordained is true or not. That's a topic for another study and another post.

In the events of last Thursday I see hope and I am afraid. I do not know what will come of it, but I did not know what would come of our meetings when they began 6 short months ago. They have brought us together and built a foundation of trust that can be built upon. In that I see hope. What was once a fractured, disunified leadership now has a foundation of unity. I hope that my fears are unfounded, the unhealthy result of an aversion cultivated by the past pattern. I've seen many years of hierarchy leadership with one man at the top and only 6 months of a team based system. It scares me to put one man in charge again. But now I know this man and I know his heart. I also think I know God's heart a little better and I have a little more conviction and courage to speak up, and because of our new relationship I have the confidence that I will be listened to as well. As I said six months ago, time will tell what this means.

1 TrackBack

Long term readers of this blog (both of you) might remember this post from back in May of 2004:Monday night was a monumental night, or at least it could have been. Time will tell. The deacons of the Columbus Church... Read More


I pop in and read some of your posts from now and again and have become interested in the dynamics that are in the church you attend.

Unfortunately it does not sound as if your congregation is making the progress many hoped. I do have some thoughts on the type of surveys of the members that could be done to better outline what strengths and weaknesses for the forward progress should be. But, I think, from your assessment, everyone first needs to come to the consensus that the church is not where it needs to be to properly meet the needs of the members and it must do something to move forward.

I would recommend a solid study of how the church outlined in the bible functioned, not getting caught up in specific titles or structures. It will provide you with much guidance to where you should go. Possibly more of the spirit of how not the rule of how. How you get there will be up to your congregation.

Although not visible in the bible, it may be a good idea to come up with a job description for the paid staff, board and deacons. And, those being paid should be reviewed by the congregation or its representative group yearly. Without a good job description and survey of the church it is difficult to properly determine the pay for the individuals working. From past posts, I think that you went with pay similar to a previous model that was in place, and it seems as if the evangelist still want to hold on to some of the old model that was in place. If that is not good, it has not been properly outlined with regard to his duties.

Just some thoughts…

Salguod - I can only say how we manage things at our church.

We have a very head strong senior pastor. He knows what he wants and how he wants to get there and makes those desires perfectly clear.
The congregation also has a number of Elders (based on the size of the church) who are ultimately responsible for the spiritual direction and needs of the church. They have the final say in how we do things.
The deacons make sure that everything runs the way it should, physical plant, finances, mercy funds, etc. I've been a deacon before and also chaired the commitee. I always looked at us as the worker bees. We didn't have any word in the direction the church went but we were the ones that made sure it could get there in one piece.
For an overly opinionated lout as myself it was very humbling at times.
I'm not sure why your church has deacons and not elders at this time. If you trully had a role in the development of your church I'd say you're an elder doing deacons work not the other way around. My 2 cents (and that's all it's really worth) is that you need to approach the congregation and solicit their recommendations for Elders and then vote them into office.
With them in place your pastor can point the direction that he believes your church should go, but it will be up to them to decide if that is the direction and if so how they want to best get there.

I'd close in saying Good Luck but we don't believe in luck, only God's providence. So I pray that His providence provides you with guidance, peace and most of all unity.



I think all of your sugestions have some merit. There is much to consider here, but the health of the church is of first importance. I'd love your thoughts on surveys that we can do to.


I absolutely agree with you on an eldership. Our church family's history with elders is rather problematic, unfortunately. We came from the larger Church of Christ tradition. As I understand it, the founders of the International Churches of Christ had some unbfortunate experiences with stubborn elderships (there was some stubborness on the part of the young leaders as well, to be fair.) That led to a resistance to putting elders in place to lead our churches. Also, there is a specific understanding of Titus 1:6 reference to an elder's children 'believing'. The common interpretation was that meant that their kids had to be Christians. Well, that seriously limits the available pool of men to choose from for elders. In our congregation, that means just two men.

I'm not sure that's the proper interpretation of that passage and have suggested that we as a leadership must research it and decide what our take on it is so that we can at least know what we're looking for as we move toward an eldership in the future.

Thanks for the comments folks.


I must say that the bible does layout church structure plainly. Not only by commision in 1 Timothy, but also by example in the book of Acts. I spent the better part of the day today researching the role of the minister, and exactly what the relationship of the minister is to the church. I have come to the conclusion that the only difference between minister and evangilist is the evangilist travels and carries news from one church to the other, while ministers are stationary. I have to agree with your minister concerning authority in the church and leadership, to a degree. It is plain in the scriptures that the minister is responsible for appointing elders, and a hand full of other responsibilites. However, shepherding the flock is not one of them. It is clear that the main duty of the minister is to defend the gospel, and refute false doctrine. Moreover, it is not the deacons responsiblity to shepherd the flock either. The responsibilties of the deacon is to grease the cogs, and meet the needs of the fellowship. One thing is clear is that in the mentioning of ministers is that they are servants. The word is DIAKONOS in Greek, meaning "servant, attendant, minister". You can see where the word Deacon comes from. This word is commonly used regularly and enterchangable, but are interpreted to suit the intention of the interperter. There is another word used, for example in 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 the "Ministers of Christ" is the word HUPERETES which basically means "subserveant, a subordinate acting under another's direction". It is a lower form of servent than deacon. In that scripture it mentions "stewards of the mysteries of God". The word steward is OKIONOMOS meaning "the manager of a household or estate." In verse two it says that these "stewards" must be faithful, or full of faith. The point is that the roll of your minister is to serve, not shepherd the flock, but to serve them by pracitcing and preaching the correct doctrine, and dispell and refute false doctrines. Deacon and Minister is a position of service. So, your minister has no more authority to "Lead" your church than do the deacons. However, look at 1 Timothy 3, it is obvious that the deacons need to hold the same respect and good conscience towards the gospel as anybody, in fact setting the example. 1 Timothy 4:12 states that the minister need also be an example to the believers in word, conduct, love, spirit, faith, and purity. IF example is leadership, and servitude is leadership, than there should be a clamor to be the most humble and contrite, in the most humble circumstances. I'm a bit troubled at any person nameing themselves a leader of the church, other than Christ. Look at God's disappointment when the Israelites pleaded for a king when Saul was appointed. God wanted to be king. I get confused when there is mention of "taking the church in... this direction" or that. What does it mean to find directin for the church? There is only one direction to take any church, and that is to live your life in a godly and spiritual way, and go about your business and live your life. I gave a devotional this past Wednessday on what the goal of the average Christian is, and that is to "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind." and "your neighbor as yourself." It's simple, Love God and live the golden rule. It's not anymore complicated than that. I think the problem might lay in the misinterpretaion of Matthew 28:18-20. But that is another story and I can email you on that. But this high and mighty standard of performing the mission of saving the world is a misnomer. Our goal as a beleiver is to live a Godly life and maintain peaceable lives.

As far as your reaction to your minister anouncement, I think that I understand and can completely feel for where you are coming from. That being said, it also seems like when we are having difficulty relenquishing authority, it usually means that we are not trusting, or having faith that it is a good, or correct turn of events. Search within yourself. Perhaps you may have trust issues with your minister, or faith issues that the Master is completely aware of the state in which your church is in. He is, and he is watching. And he will hold each person accountable for their actions and what is said, all in grace of course. In my opinion, and to whatever value you attribute to that, is that your fellowship is in a crisis situation, and you must act. If your minister (who is responsible for appointing elders) is not searching for and taking every action to fulfill the biblical model of church authority, perhaps you may turn your deacon group into a committee to encourage and insist on action. Your crisis is severe and not to be underestimated or minimalized in any way. You as a fellowship must demand action and soon. IF and this is a worse case senerio, your minister is not meeting the requirements of the job, perhaps he may need to be relieved of his position, and find a new minister who may provide your fellowship with what they need. I also suggest that you may want to contact bigger churches and ask if there are any that could quilfy for eldership, but are currently not acting elders. IF you found anyone who fits this discription, and if they are retired or what have you, you may request that they come and shepherd your church. As far as I can see, it is a desperate time for you all, and desperate measures should be taken. I pray for you all, and hope that your strife will soon be resolved. I have more to say about all this, but for now, I'll just keep it at that.


It's good to hear from you again, thanks for your post.

I appreciate your research into these roles. I've read similar things from DJ, but it's been a while. We had a short meeting of the group a week ago on this and one of the things I suggested was research into these roles and definitions, since there was a difference in opinion (I was actually not at either extreme of that discussion believe it or not). But, I've since come to realize that is not the root of our problem. Our campus minister said something which I thought was pretty wise after that meeting. He said churches don't fail because they can't figure it out.

That got me thinking that this issue of roles is really a distraction from the needs of the church. Even given your findings, nowhere in scripture is there dictated what a church structure should look like. We can parse the words and translate the Greek, but we then have to read into those things what that meant in the practical day to day workings of the congregation. I do not mean that the meaning of the words has no value or bearing on what we should do. What I do mean is that we cannot point to any passage and say that it prescribes a certain role or dictates a certain structure. I think that God has given us a fair mount of leeway here because it is not the most important thing to focus on.

Your comments on what we as Christians should be doing really hit home too. I've grown weary of defining my worth as a Christian by my fruitfulness, meaning 'saving souls'. Frankly, if that's the primary measure, I am a failure. I long ago decided that I would stop feeling inadequate for not making disciples each and every year. I'm not sure where that conclusion came from years ago, but I think it has served me well. I have a healthier view of God and of grace and of what I can do for him instead of what I am not.

Also, your comments on trust are huge. Yes, I've realized recently that I do have trust issues with our minister and some other men. These are based somewhat in experience and reality, but trust is not only earned, it is also simply given. Regardless of what I feel that has happened in the past or has been said, I must fight to trust. Love always trusts is what 1 Corinthians 13 says, so I cannot, in love, withhold my trust. That is very, very hard. My emotions and hurts are so wrapped up in this, it's hard to separate them. But I also have realized, and have confided in some of the other leaders, that I have become a bit cynical about our leadership. That lack of trust turns everything into a threat. It becomes a self fulfilling prophesy.

The bottom line is that I want a healthy church. I don't care who leads it or if I have a part in that leadership. (That last part was harder to write than it should be. My pride wants to have a say in every decision. I feel that I should be involved on every level, but I know that is my pride talking. Lord help me kill my pride!) I want clear areas of responsibility, clear roles and responsibility and clear lines of communication. Those don't exist now. Six months ago if you'd have asked me if the minister should lead, I would have said absolutely no, we need consensus. Now, I'm not so emphatic. But I do feel strongly that he (or the elders, if we had them) needs a defined advisory group, not a vague one. I feel that the deacons are perfect for that role. I also agree with you that we need to move toward an eldership. To do that, we need to work out how we determine who is capable to serve in that role. Right now, there is only one obvious choice and one other man that fills the letter of the law but is probably not a good candidate. But we must define for ourselves what 'believing children' or 'recent convert' and other things mean so we can go about finding men to serve in that way.

Well, I've rambled enough. We're meeting again tomorrow night. We've decided to fast and pray for the day and break our fast together that evening. If you feel moved, pray for us.

It is an honor to pray for you and your fellow congregates.

I really liked the comments from Paul. Does he have a website?
Not to be nosey (but I am) how are things going at church? How did the meeting go? It sounded like a great idea to fast and pray all day and then break bread together in the evening.

Thanks for the comments. No, Paul does not have a website.

The meeting went well (more on that later.) The fasting and praying was great. The breaking of bread (pizza) was great, but the 20 minutes I spend in the bathroom this morning wondering if I was going to vomit (I didn't) wasn't so great. My body doesn't take too well to fasting, it seems. I now seem to remember having a similar experience the last time I fasted. Yuck.

Note to self: Next time a fast is called, maybe limit yourself to juices, fruit and veggies or something like that. :-)

Many churches use properly constructed and administered surveys to help show the health of the church (positives and weaknesses).

I concur with much of what was said above. The evangelist has the role to preach (outreach, etc) and to appoint elders. There should be people in the role of sheparding a church, if not are there people that desire to help the church in that way? From your earlier notes, the deacons were appointed to serve and minister in specific areas and have now expanded their role. It does sound as if some of your own desires have crept into this to cloud your thinking. As I stated before, these roles (evangelists, deacons, etc) need to be clearly defined. This is first for the members serving in that capacity then for the membership.

With regard to your evangelist wanting to be the main lead, the question is how is he doing at his specific job of working to grow the church? If not well then why would he be given additional responsibility?

To move forward you sometimes have to start over.

Monthly Archives

Recent Comments

  • Many churches use properly constructed and administered surveys to help show the health of the church (positives and weaknesses). I concur with much of what was said above. The evangelist has the role to preach (outrea...

  • Thanks for the comments. No, Paul does not have a website. The meeting went well (more on that later.) The fasting and praying was great. The breaking of bread (pizza) was great, but the 20 minutes I spend in the bat...

  • I really liked the comments from Paul. Does he have a website? Not to be nosey (but I am) how are things going at church? How did the meeting go? It sounded like a great idea to fast and pray all day and then break bread...

  • It is an honor to pray for you and your fellow congregates....

    Paul Frederick
    Church Developments
  • Paul, It's good to hear from you again, thanks for your post. I appreciate your research into these roles. I've read similar things from DJ, but it's been a while. We had a short meeting of the group a week ago on th...