An Elder Is An Elder, Is An Elder.

Within the Presbyterian tradition, an elder remains an elder even when they are not involved in actively serving on the session. Far too often the assumption of both the elder and the church is that with the exception of occasionally assisting in serving communion, an elder has no responsibilities when they rotate off the session. The result is that the wisdom of their experience is lost to the body.

Before an elder rotates off the session, there should be a meeting in which they explore their leadership role in the church, both local and beyond. If they are willing, they could become part of a continuing body of the eldership of the church, meeting occasionally to reflect on where God is calling the church in the future. This might be a time when, freed from the monthly responsibilities, they could focus more specifically on the spiritual side of the church’s journey.

In addition, they could be bound together in a facebook group in which they would occasionally be asked to respond to and reflect on specific challenges. For example, what if they were asked to make a list of the larger spiritual challenges that they see facing the church. That list could be circulated among them electronically and they would be asked to prioritize the list. Next, someone, perhaps the pastor or even someone from a local seminary, could be asked to meet with the group and speak to the theological issues under-girding one of the top spiritual challenges that they have identified.

Again they could continue electronically, and occasionally face to face, discussing the implications for their particular church. Having sensed some direction emerging, they could lead a Sunday school class for the larger church and engage them in a discussion. They could also work with the pastor and session as to first steps in responding to such an issue.

What you are developing is a type of leadership that surveys the horizon and prepares the church to respond to God’s leading in our challenging future.

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