We want you to know who we are at Grace. To do that, it’s good for you to understand what our commitments are toward our members.
Leaders in the church have a heavy responsibility for God’s people. For instance, Hebrews 13:17 states the principle. “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Heb. 13:17 ESV)
Peter wrote this to elders. “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet. 5:1 ESV)
Paul wrote this to the Ephesian elders. “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28 ESV)
Before God and you, we are committed to loving and caring for the flock for whom Christ gave His life. Below, I’ve outline thirteen key commitments.
- To have an eye on our teaching and protect our people from heresies.
A shepherd protects the flock against wolves. Paul warns the Ephesian elders of this same thing. “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29 ESV)
- To watch over and seek those going astray.
Jesus is the good shepherd. He not only lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:11), but he also seeks those who are lost (Luke 15:3) Following Him, we seek those going astray.
- To do church discipline with those who are in unrepentant sin.
Church discipline is the process of counseling a sinner to turn away from unrepentant sin, and be restored. If the person continues to refuse, as a last resort, they are put out of the church for the sake of the body. (Matthew 18, 1Corinthians 5, Galatians 6:1-4)
- To be praying for you.
Prayer should be a ministry for all believers but leaders are especially called to pray for God’s people. (Acts 6:4) We commit to praying for our people.
- To challenge you.
We can easily grow complacent. Leaders are to stir up the people of God to love and good deeds. Paul encouraged Timothy to lead in that kind of way, “…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Tim. 4:2 ESV)
- To preach the gospel.
Without the gospel, a true church does not exist. Our commission is to go into all the world and preach the gospel. This is what saves. This is the whole foundation and lifeblood of the Christian life.
- To preach what the text is saying.
“…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Tim. 4:2 ESV) At Grace we aim to preach expositional messages that unfold and apply the word of God. As Paul said, “But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. (2 Cor. 4:2 ESV)
- To be authentic.
Hypocrisy comes from a Greek word that originally meant the mask worn by an actor. Elders are to be examples to the flock, but that cannot be a show or pretense. Masks won’t do. Pastors/elders are fellow believers striving toward maturity. To be examples, we have to be honest and transparent. Pretending to be perfect helps no one.
- To act with integrity.
Integrity is to do the right thing even when it hurts us. In ministry, doing the right thing, if not the popular thing, can cost us.
Paul faced this kind of choice when he writes this to the Galatians. “But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.” (Gal. 5:11 ESV) Preaching the gospel and applying it consistently will not always win us friend, but we must please God rather than man.
- To avoid partiality.
Because it takes many kinds of resources to grow a church, leaders are always tempted to give preferential treatment. We are tempted to do favors for those who have given and served in exemplary ways. But this is not from God. James writes.
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (Jas. 2:1 ESV)
- To ignore the numbers game.
God does not require that churches grow to some specific number or by some specific percentage. We work, but God gives the increase. (1Corinthians 3:6). A fixation on numbers leads to pride, shortcuts and manipulation. We affirm that it is required of a steward to be faithful. (1Cor 4:2)
- To ignore financial fears.
As leaders we are accountable before God to handle the church’s finance honorably. That is implied by the concept of stewardship.
However, we will not let the fear of financial needs drive us. Were we to let finances dictate our decisions, we would quickly fall into things like the numbers game, partiality, and compromise.
- To be accountable.
Elders should not face carping criticism, but they are to be accountable. Consider Paul’s words to Timothy. “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.”
(1 Tim. 5:19 ESV)