Lay Elders Are Not the Shepherding JV Team

Dave Harvey | September 8, 2017

My leadership teeth were cut in a denomination where non-vocational elders didn’t exist. It wasn’t simply that our tithing base provided the luxury of full-time pastor-elders. We believed a compensated clergy was biblically supportable and resulted in a far more efficient, connected eldership team. The fruit, to my thinking, was that it was the most effective way to shepherd the church.

I believed it. I taught it. I wrote it. And I staffed according to it.

But what I missed was a lot.

This is not a confession, nor is it a critique of the group I pastored. I’m incredibly grateful to God for the ministry path he created for me and the people with whom I shared it. Also, it’s not like I was embracing a sinful practice, or publicly crusading against lay elders while diabolically cultivating a power-hungry eldership posse. It was nothing that calculated.

I’m not returning to my Presbyterian roots and busting out what I still think is a dubious division between “ruling” and “teaching” elders. Churches with paid-only elders are a minority, but I wouldn’t suggest they’re sinful or self-serving. I spent 27 years working that model, and there are undeniable benefits. More importantly, there are plenty of…

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