I spent two days last week at our biannual regional assembly of elders. Lest you think a denominational business meeting is about as interesting as midnight re-runs on CSPAN, I offer the following reasons why I couldn’t be more grateful for my time in Charlotte, North Carolina.
1. Serving other churches in our region
One of the regional responsibilities I enjoy the most is working on the ordination committee. It’s our job to provide a comprehensive evaluation of every ordination candidate, ensuring that the men pastoring churches in our region are biblically qualified. Some candidates pass the first time. Some don’t. In either case, I love being able to encourage candidates in the process and play a small role in ensuring our churches remain healthy for decades to come.
2. Growing in theological discernment
Jeff Purswell, dean of the Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC) Pastor’s College and an elder at the Sovereign Grace (SG) church in Louisville, gave an address on the characteristics of theological discernment. It’s easy to say, “We need to carefully understand and apply God’s Word.” It’s an entirely different thing to be given practical tools to get it done. Jeff’s address did exactly that and is one of the recordings we’ll be discussing at a future elders meeting at KingsWay.
3. Learning how to make disciples
Mealtimes provide a great opportunity for rubbing shoulders with other pastors who are trying to equip their churches for evangelism, train their people in biblical counseling, and identify and deploy future pastors. I typically come home with a list of recommended resources, program ideas, and ministry strategies. Last week was no exception. I was reminded that it doesn’t matter whether a church is larger or smaller than KingsWay. We can still learn something from them.
4. Remembering God’s work is bigger than my local community
The longer I’m in full-time ministry, the more I recognize just how important it is to not develop a myopic fixation on our church’s success, our church’s weaknesses, our church’s opportunities, and our church’s challenges. I want to give faithful attention to all of those things. But I also want to hold them in perspective, recognizing that God’s work is so much bigger than my little corner of Virginia. Hearing testimonies of God’s activity around the mid-Atlantic region keeps God from becoming small in my own eyes. That’s a precious gift.
5. Crying, laughing, and praying about the challenges of ministry
Every biblical vocation comes with things to love and things that are hard. That includes the call to full-time pastoral ministry. To observe our regional assemblies, especially in the times before and after formal events, is to observe a soul-strengthening camaraderie among men who are intimately aware of the challenges I face as a pastor. Their care is in no way superior to the week in and week out support I am fortunate to receive from the members of my church. But it’s uniquely helpful because they live with my vantage point and are able to speak powerful words of faith and hope to my heart.
6. Rebuilding our church’s reputation for athletic skill
One of the things I appreciate about Mickey Connolly’s instincts as our regional leader is his commitment to carve out extended time for team-building activities. The whiffle ball tournament last week is a prime example. For many years, KingsWay had a bad rap for athletic failure at these sort of regional competitions. And yes, I use the word competition because that’s precisely what you get when you pile 30-some type-A leaders onto a grassy field. In fact, I recall one point where Jeff Purswell astutely noted, “Gentlemen, this is the moment when we decide whether we will act like Christians.” Last year, our very own Chris Deloglos won the miniature golf tournament, and this year, my whiffle ball team came out on top. KingsWay’s stock is definitely trending upward.
Various pastors from our region are visiting KingsWay in June and July to help carry the preaching load while I’m away on a 6-week summer break. If you see them on Sunday morning, take a moment to thank them for the way they care for and protect our church by caring for and protecting our local elders. You might never attend a regional assembly as a member of KingsWay, but your church is significantly stronger because of them.