OK, so you’ve done a decent job of identifying some candidates for serving as church Elder (see the previous post). What do you do once you identify men who might be a good fit?
You should approach them, in specific but vague terms.
I know… to quote Ricky Ricardo, “You got a lot of ‘splaining” to do Lucy!” Here’s what I mean:
SPECIFIC about what you are asking the candidate to consider…
VAGUE about what the final outcome will be…
HERE’S HOW I GO ABOUT IT:
- Get together with the man one-on-one, in a casual environment.
- Tell him you’ve noticed his heart for the Lord, his interest in the spiritual well-being of others, the spiritual fruit in his home, etc. (whatever you truly HAVE noticed)
- Tell him you’d like his feedback or reaction to an idea you had…
- HERE COMES THE SPECIFIC BUT VAGUE PART: Tell him that if he is at all interested, you would like to begin a process of exploration (a key word) together. What you’d be exploring is the biblical role of Elder, and whether or not he has interest, gifting, or fit for serving in that role. (The reason I say it this way is because I in NO WAY want to make the mistake of communicating that I think he should be or will be an Elder. It’s waaaay too early for either of you to be thinking along those lines. There is a TON of learning AND assessment that needs to take place before you begin thinking along those lines. You ONLY want to challenge him to consider the possibility and be open to exploring the idea more. That way both he and you will be able to know whether your idea is a good idea or a bad idea.)
- If he’s open… you move on… to the initial step of the exploration you’ve already mentioned. You could do this initial step during the same conversation if he’s truly open and interested, or at a later. In this initial step, you’d describe the process you’d like to use to do a thorough exploration of the possibility. Include time-frames, topics of study, and tools involved as you tell him what you have in mind. This way, he is clear on the commitment he will be making to make a thorough exploration of the subject to with you. FOR EXAMPLE: In the process I’ve developed (found in my “Elder Training Handbook” link at the end of this post), I take a year or more to do that thorough exploration, for some very specific and important reasons (to be explained in the next post). Your candidate needs to know all of this t up front, and be willing to commit to it.
If your experience is anything like mine, most guys of the caliber you’ve identified will at least be interested in finding out more. But not all will be willing to make the time investment (the year or more I mentioned) in finding out if they are a good fit for the role.
That’s O.K. In fact, it’s good for you to know… as it may be indicating that the man’s life situation, pace of life, or spiritual condition are not truly ready for the Elder role – which will be even more demanding. If you find that to be the case with some of the men you have identified… graciously let them go. Both of you (not to mention the church and their families) are probably better off for the time being if they don’t pursue the exploration.
If he’s game to do the longer exploration, move ahead with your thorough exploration. BUT, make sure that you are NOT, in any way or at any time, guilty of communicating any sense of certainty about what the conclusions of your exploration together will be. You are exploring exactly because you don’t know whether he’s a good fit for the role. Neither does he. Both of you need to be clear on that.
I’ve recently published my first book – “The Elder Training Handbook” that covers all of these blog posts and much more, in greater detail. If you’d like to get a copy for yourself, go to the FREE tab at the top of this blog. There you’ll find options for the free E-book download of the ETH, as well as an option to buy a hard-copy and have it shipped to you.