I wonder what Dad thinks about this style of counseling…
You might want to check out Dad’s newest book. I think it should be great!
I hope you are doing well in the Lord, growing in your understanding of His love and grace.
I thought I might give you a brief update on what God’s doing in our lives. As you may know, my wife and I are looking to move to South Africa to serve the Lord as missionaries through Grace Ministries International.
We are pretty excited about the opportunity God’s giving us. For one, we’ll be able to serve in the local church as a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church Pretoria. Also, we have been asked to teach at Grace School of the Ministry – a training center for pastors and Christians who want to learn how to change and help others change biblically. And finally, we are in the process of beginning Tsholofelo Ministries – an orphanage for children affected by A.I.D.S.
We can hardly wait to get to Africa and dive into the work the Lord’s prepared for us. Before we can go though, GMI requires that we have 100% of our monthly support along with 100% of our outgoing funds. As of today God has provided approximately 60% of our monthly support and 5-7% of our outgoing funds.
To help answer common questions that may come our way we’ve put together a FAQ sheet. I hope it will help answer any questions you may have.
Thanks for prayerfully considering this wonderful opportunity.
Because of Him,
1. What agency will you be serving in Africa with?
We are happy to let everyone know that we will be sent out through our home church, Grace Fellowship Church of the Lehigh Valley. Additionaly, Grace Minsitries International the missionary sending arm of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Ca. will handle the administrative end of our support. Grace Fellowship Church and Grace Ministries International are extremely compatible in doctrine and pupose.
The reasons for choosing this route are several. First, we believe the local church should have the primary role for making disciples locally, regionally and globably. Second, Grace Ministries International will handle the financial end of things without charging any administrative costs. Third, the doctrinal soundness and compatibility of GFC and GMI will assure that our ministry will be carried out with purity of doctrine and practice.
2. Is raising support biblical?
While Scripture gives us some general principles it doesn not give us much specific information for developing a ‘biblical’ method for supporting missionaries. We know Paul and Barnabas, for example, were sent out from the church at Antioch but we don’t know how their expenses were provided for. We know that Paul often worked as a tent-maker, but also received help from churches like the one in Philippi. He thanks them in his letter to them an dsays that God will bless them for their sacrifice. (Phil.4:16-18) In addition to churches helping missionaries, we also see individuals providing for those serving the Lord. In 3 John, the apostle commends Gaius for helping fellow workers by caring for their needs and helping them along the way.
These are just a couple examples of how missionaries were supported according to the Scripture. While some denominations provide for all the needs of their missionaries, others like us, have to raise all their support through churches, family, and friends who have a desire to help glorify God by investing in their ministry. As missionaries, we do not want to compete with in any manner with a believer’s commitment to giving to the local church in which you minister and are spiritually fed. If you would like to be part of our support team through giving beyond your commitment to your local church however, we would be very grateful and are confident God will bless you as you make this sacrifice.
3. Where and how should I send my gifts?
Grace Ministries International is providing the receipting and administration of our financial support. Upon receiving your gift they will post it, deposit it, send you a tax receipt with an easy to use return envelope for your next gift. Each month they will distribute the allotted salary and ministry disbursements to us on the field.
4. Are my gifts tax-deductible?
Yes. All gifts that are made out to Grace Ministries International are tax deductible. Gifts should be designated with “Josh and Marda Mack” on the memo line.
5. When should I begin sending my monthly support?
As soon as possible. The sooner monies begin arriving in our account the sooner they can begin accruing to our total support needs and the sooner we will be able to depart for the field. Even if you decide that you want your monthly support to begin the month we depart for South Africa we need you to let us know of that commitment as soon as possible so that it can be included and anticipated in the total required amount. The reason this is important is because we will not be permitted to leave until 100% of our support needs are committed.
6. Do I have to commit to give monthly?
While it is necessary for us to have 100% of our support committed prior to departure for the field, it is also possible to make quarterly, bi-annual or annual commitments. Special gifts that come to GMI designated for our account will go toward any shortfall we might have in monthly support or further ministry expenses.
7. What are your total support needs?
First, there is the monthly support category. After consulting with missionaries on the field, its been determined our Monthly Support is $4000.00
Second, there are outgoing funds. These are broken down as follows:
Transportation to the Field $7500
Field Vehicle $12000
Container for Shipping $4-6000
Housing Set Up $4000
In addition, GMI requires each missionary to have four months of accrued support in their accounts before departure. This helps with things like unforeseen contingencies and emergencies in country. In our case, four months accrued support represents $16000.
That means the toal amount of outgoing funds that needs to be in our account prior to departure is $45500.
8. How much more do you need to raise?
The current snapshot as of October 1st is as follows. God has provided $2300/monthly. That means we need $1700 more committed per month. In the outgoing funds category, God has provided $3000 which means we have$42500 to go.
9. What can we do?
Pray, pray, pray.
If you are in a position to do so, perhaps you could spread word of this ministry to others who may be interested in helping we would be very grateful. If you would like us to come to your church or even come to your home, we would be glad to share more information about the ministry with you.
If you would like to have a part financially, you may do so by:
1. Send check payable to:
Grace Ministries International
13248 Roscoe Blvd.
Sun Valley, Ca. 91352
Clearly designate check for Josh and Marda Mack in the memo section.
2. Or donate online at:
3. Or, GMI direct: arrangements can be made to send monies directly from your checking account. Call (818) 909-5728 to recieve an application form or you may request a form from us.
*Prepared with help of other missionaries
I started thinking today about some of the men outside my family whom God has used to change me.
And you know what I realized, many if not most of them were pastors. My life is different because of the work of these pastors.
Then I started thinking about their churches.
In order for those men to have an impact on my life, their churches had to make a sacrifice. In each and every case you have a church…
This post contains my (Wayne) answers to a friend who raised some questions about church leadership. His questions are in lower case and my answers are in capital letters only for the purpose of distinguishing questions from answers. (In other words, I realize the capitals can be a bit much but for the sake of clarity bear with me…)
I HAVE LOOKED AT YOUR QUESTIONS AND FRANKLY DON‘T SEE ANY CONFLICT BETWEEN ELDER “RULE” (TIMOTHY 5:17) AND “HAVE CHARGE OVER YOU” (I THESSALONIANS 5:12,13) AND THE ISSUES YOU RAISED UNLESS SOMEONE MISTAKES ELDER RULE FOR ELDER STUPIDITY OR ELDER DICTATORSHIP.
BRIEFLY: 1. How do the principles of Elder Rule interact with the Doctrine of the Priesthood of the Believer? What are the full functions of the New Testament priest? Believers have both a wonderful privilege and a great responsibility.
I DON‘T SEE HOW ELDER SUPERVISION OR OVERSIGHT AFFECTS THE CLEARLY TAUGHT DOCTRINE OF THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS AT ALL. HOW WOULD IT AND WHY WOULD IT? I WILL WRITE MORE ABOUT THIS IN LATER ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS.
2. When Jesus says ‘… tell it to the church” in Mtt 18:17, is he asserting that the Church is the “court of final appeal” on this Earth? It is of particular note that Jesus does not say “tell it to the Elders,” or some church committee. Particularly in light of passages like 1 Cor. 6; if the church has been vested with the responsibility to judge angels, the world and each other – surely, a congregation who is properly informed and truly spiritual, should participate in the selection of their leaders in a determinative sense.
IT DOESN’T SAY TELL IT TO THE CHURCH FOR A VOTE – THE DECISION HAS ALREADY BEEN MADE THAT THE BROTHER IS IN SIN AND THE CHURCH IS ENLISTED TO PRAY AND PLEAD AND EXHORT (in keeping with 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15).
IT DOESN’T SAY TELL IT TO THE CHURCH AND IF HE REFUSES THEN TAKE A VOTE AS TO WHETHER OR NOT HE SHOULD BE PUT OUT OF THE CHURCH. THE ISSUE IS WHO IS TAKING THE LEAD – WHO SHOULD KNOW MORE ABOUT SCRIPTURE – WHO SHOULD BE MOST MATURE IN SPIRITUAL MATTERS – WHO IS LEADING THE CHURCH TO MAKE ALL THIS KNOWN TO THE CHURCH – AFTER MATTHEW 18:15 AND 16 ARE FOLLOWED WHAT HAS OCCURRED IS COMMUNICATED TO THE ELDERS AS REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CHURCH AND THEY THEN PASS IT ON TO THE CONGREGATION WITH THE EXHORTATION TO THE CONGREGATION TO ADMONISH, PRAY FOR, EXHORT THE ERRING, UNREPENTANT, UNRECONCILED BROTHER. THIS TELLING IT TO THE CHURCH IS OBVIOUSLY A FORMAL KIND OF TELLING.
IT CERTAINLY ISN’T REFERRING TO INDIVIDUALS GOING AROUND AND INDISCRIMINATELY TELLING IT TO VARIOUS MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH. TO DO THIS WOULD BE GOSSIP WHICH THE BIBLE STRONGLY CONDEMNS. ITS OBVIOUS IN REFERENCE TO THIS TELLING IT TO THE CHURCH THAT SOMEONE HAS TO MAKE THE DECISION WHETHER WHAT THE ERRING PERSON HAS DONE WARRANTS A PUBLIC DISCLOSURE TO THE CONGREGATION AND A PUBLIC APPEAL TO THE CHURCH TO PRAY, PERSUADE, ADMONISH, EXHORT, REBUKE, ETC. THE ERRING PERSON. SOMEONE HAS TO DECIDE ABOUT WHETHER THE TELLING SHOULD GO PUBLIC AND THEN WHAT AND HOW THE CONGREGATION SHOULD PROCEED. TO INDICSRIMINATELY TELL IT TO THE CHURCH WITHOUT ELDERSSHIP LEADERSHIP AND SUPERVISION AND INSTRUCTION WOULD MERELY FEED THE GOSSIP MILL. THIS WOULD SERVE NOT CONSTRUCTIVE PURPOSE AND WOULD CLEARLY VIOLATE SCRIPTURE. 3. When Jesus says in Matthew 18:18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven;” what is He saying and what is He not saying?
I’M NOT SURE WHAT THIS HAS TO DO WITH THE ISSUE UNDER DISCUSSION IN THAT IT CERTAINLY DOESN’T MEAN (CAN’T MEAN) THAT EVERY PERSON IN THE CHURCH MUST BE IN TOTAL AGREEMENT BEFORE ANY ACTION MUST BE TAKEN.
THE QUESTION IS, DOES THE YOU IN THIS TEXT MEAN EVERY SINGLE PERSON OR DOES THE YOU MEAN THAT THE MATTHEW 18:15 – 17 PROCEDURE HAS BEEN FOLLOWED AND THERE STILL HAS BEEN NO REPENTANCE ON THE PART OF THE ERRING PERSON. IF THAT HAS BEEN DONE, THEN THE ERRING BROTHER WHO IS FUNCTIONING AS AN UNBELIEVER (I.E., HE IS UNWILLING TO LISTEN TO CHRIST ASD HE SPEAKS IN HIS WORD – HE IS UNWILLING TO DO WHAT CHRIST SAYS HE SHOULD DO, NAMELY REPENT AND BE RECONCILED – JOHN 10:28; MATTHEW 18:15 – 17) IS TO BE DISFELLOWSHIPPED FROM THE CHURCH WHICH ACCORDING TO PAUL IS THE SAME AS BEING TURNED OVER TO THE DEVIL (I TIMOTHY 1;20). TO BE PUT OUT OF THE CHURCH IS TO BE TURNED OVER TO SATAN. THE CHURCH IS WHERE CHRIST REIGNS. THE WORLD IS SATAN’S TERRITORY. ALL THIS TEXT MEANS IS THAT IF THE CHURCH FOLLOWS CHRIST’S ORDERS IN MATTHEW 18:15 – 17 IN REFERENCE TO AN ERRING, DISOBEDIENT PERSON ANDS DISFELLOWSHIPS THAT PERSON, THEY DO SO UNDER THE AUTHORITY AND WITH THE APPROVAL OF CHRIST. THE TEXT SAYS NOTHING ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF VOTING. NO VOTE IS NECESSARY IF THE PROCEDURE DESCRIBED IN MATTHEW 18:15 -17 HAS BEEN FOLLOWED. IT’S A DONE DEAL BECAUSE HE WON’T OBEY CHRIST. WHY WOULD ANYONE THINK YOU’D HAVE TO TAKE A VOTE WHEN CHRIST HAS ALREADY LAID OUT THE PROCEDURE AND THE PERSON WAS UNWILLING TO OBEY?
3 AND 4. What are the limits of Apostolic Authority with respect to the normative role of Elders today? “The church as a whole perpetuates the apostolic ministry though no individual has apostolic authority”. (Rodney Decker; Polity and the Elder Issue, Grace Theo. Journal, fall 1988) Elders are to train men for the work of the ministry… they are not the ministry.
What is the Role of the Holy Spirit in the Congregation as a corporate body? 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” How is a congregation to test the spirit and make their collective mind known? How do elders prevent people from ‘voting’ with their tithe or with their feet? What long term effect does that have on the maturity of a church?
AGAIN I DON‘T UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM. OBVIOUSLY THESE STATEMENTS ABOUT EQUIPPING THE CHURCH FOR MINISTRY ARE TRUE – I BELIEVE IT WHOLEHEARTEDLY. EVERY BELIEVER IS RESPONSIBLE TO DO THIS AND TO DO IT OUT OF LOVE FOR CHRIST NOT BECAUSE HE IS ABLE TO VOTE ON WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN.
CONCERNING THE LAST TWO QUESTIONS, UNLESS PEOPLE ARE MOTIVATED BY SELFISHNESS AND A DESIRE TO RUN THE SHOW RATHER THAN A REGARD FOR GOD’S GLORY AND A DESIRE TO SERVE AND GIVE OUT OF LOVE FOR CHRIST WHAT DOES VOTING HAVE TO DO WITH GIVING OR SERVING? I DON‘T THINK ELDER RULE CAN AND DOES HAVE A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON THE CHURCH OR THE INDIVIDUAL BELIEVER WHEN IT IS UNDERSTOOD AND UTILIZED PROPERLY. THE ONLY EFFECT IT WILL HAVE WILL BE A GOOD EFFECT BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL BE SERVING AND GIVING FOR THE RIGHT REASON – BECAUSE THEY LOVE CHRIST. RIGHT NOW, FOR EXAMPLE, I AM NOT AN ELDER IN ANY CHURCH AND I CAN PROMISE YOU THAT IT HAS NOT AFFECTED MY GIVING OR MY SERVICE OR MY MATURITY. IN FACT, IT PROBABLY HAS HELPED MY MATURITY AND MINISTRY – NO ONE CAN SAY OR THINK THAT I’M DEVOTED, ZEALOUS, PRAYERFUL, ALWAYS ABOUNDING IN THE WORK OF THE LORD, SACRIFICIAL BECAUSE I AM AN ELDER.
AND, BY THE WAY, SOME OF THE MOST MATURE AND ZEALOUS AND SACRIFICIAL AND EFFECTIVE CHRISTIANS I KNOW ARE MEMBERS OF CHURCHES WHERE ELDER RULE IS PROPERLY PRACTICED. PRESENTLY WE ARE IN LITTLE ROCK, AR AND ARE ATTENDING AND TEACHING IN A CHURCH THAT PRACTICES ELDER RULE. THIS IS A CHURCH FILLED WITH HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE SOME OF THE MOST KNOWLEDGABLE, LOVING, DEVOTED AND EAGER CHRISTIANS I HAVE EVER MET. MANY OF THESE PEOPLE ARE LEADERS IN THEIR OCCUPATIONALS ENDEAVORS AND EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE NOT ELDERS, THEY ARE READERS, THINKERS, GIVERS AND ZEALOUSLY SERVING CHRIST. THE SAME WAS TRUE OF
GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH IN CALIFORNIA WHERE WE WERE MEMBERS DURING THE TIME I TAUGHT AT THE MASTER’S COLLEGE AND SEMINARY. AMONG THE MEMBERS OF THIS CHURCH OF SEVERAL THOUSAND WHICH WAS ELDER RULED (SERVED) WERE SOME OF THE MOST VIBRANT, MATURE, ACTIVE, SACRIFICIAL, COURAGEOUS, GIFTED, ZEALOUS, JOYOUS, THEOLOGICALLY SOUND, CARING, COMPASSIONATE, EAGER TO SERVE, CHRIST LOVING CHRISTIANS I HAVE EVER MET.
IN REFERENCE TO THE IDEA THAT SERVANT ELDERSHIP RULE KILLS MOTIVATION, I SAY AS I’VE HEARD OTHERS SAY ABOUT OTHER STATEMENTS THAT HAVE NO SUBSTANCE OR VALIDITY TO THEM, “THAT DOG WON‘T HUNT”. IN PRACTICE, IT DOESN’T WORK OUT THAT WAY UNLESS THE ELDERS ARE MISUSING THEIR AUTHORITY OR THE PEOPLE ARE SPIRITUALLY IMMATURE AND MOTIVATED TO SERVE FOR THE WRONG REASONS. THERE ARE MANY CHURCHES THROUGHOUT THE USA THAT PRACTICE SERVANT ELDERSHIP RULE AND YET THE PEOPLE ARE FUNCTIONING WELL IN TERMS OF THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS. SERVANT ELDERSHIP RULE HAS NOT BEEN AND WILL NOT BE AN INHIBITING FACTOR WHEN RIGHTLY PRACTICED. AT THE SAME TIME, I DO WANT TO SAY THAT I KNOW (AND SO DO YOU) OF MANY CHURCHES WHERE CONGREGATIONAL RULE IS PRACTICED AND YET THE GIVING IS LAGGING AND THE PEOPLE ARE WOEFULLY LAX IN KNOWLEDGE AND ALSO IN SERVICE. THE IDEA THAT PRACTICING CONGREGATIONAL RULE WILL INSPIRE AND MOTIVATE PEOPLE TO GIVE IS OFTEN CONTRADICTED BY WHAT IS HAPPENING IN MANY CHURCHES WHERE THAT IS THE MODUS OPERANDI. MANY PEOPLE REACT AGAINST THIS TEACHING I’VE BEEN EXPLAINING BECAUSE THEY HAVE A WRONG UNDERSTANDING OF HOW IT PLAYS OUT IN THE REAL LIFE OF THE CHURCH. ELDERSHIP RULE DOESN’T MEAN THE PEOPLE DON‘T HAVE A VOICE – IT DOESN’T MEAN THAT THE ELDERS DON‘T SEEK COUNSEL OF THE CONGREGATION – IT DOESN’T MEAN THAT THE ELDERS DON‘T RESPECT AND VALUE THE PEOPLE AND THEIR PERSPECTIVES – IT SIMPLY MEANS THAT THEY ARE LOVING SERVANTS WHO CARE FOR THE SHEEP AND ENCOURAGE THE SHEEP AND WANT TO BE OBEDIENT TO CHRIST WHO SAYS THEY ARE TO MANAGERS, BE OVERSEERS, HAVE CHARGE AND LEAD. THEY LEAD AS SERVANTS WITH A HUMBLE ATTITUDE AND WILLINGNESS TO SACRIFICE. THEY AVOID BEING PUSHY OR DOMINEERING OR AUTHORITARIAN. SERVANT LEADERSHI[P (ELDERSHIP) HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ELDER BEING MORE IMPORTANT OR SUPERIOR; IT HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH FUNCTION AND THE WAY ELDERS SHOULD FUNCTION.AS A HUSBAND I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAPPENS IN MY HOME, BUT I DON‘T MAKE DECISIONS UNILATERALLY; I WORK, BUT I DON‘T DO ALL THE WORK. MY WIFE IS MORE GIFTED THAN I IN MANY AREAS AND SO WISDOM AND LOVE MEANS I DELEGATE AND ENCOURAGE AND LISTEN AND ON MANY OCCASIONS UNLESS IT WOULD VIOLATE GOD’S REVEALED WILL I DO WHAT SHE WANTS RATHER THAN WHAT I WANT. THAT’S BIBLICCAL LEADERSHIP WHETHER IT BE IN THE HOME OR IN THE CHURCH. AN ELDER WILL DO THE SAME IN REFERENCE TO THE CHURCH. AND NOW FOR A COUPLE OF OTHER THINGS: AGAIN PLEASE CHECK THE OTHER THINGS I HAVE WRITTEN ON LEADERSHIP ON OUR BLOG SITE. I APPRECIATE YOUR CONCERN AND IN PART AGREE WITH YOU, BUT AFTER 45 YEARS OF READING AND RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE IN PLANTING CHURCHES, PASTORING CHURCHES, WRITING BOOKS AND ARTICLES ABOUT THE CHURCH AND TEACHING HUNDREDS OF PASTORS ABOUT CHURCH RELATED ISSUES, I BELIEVE THE MEN YOU QUOTE ARE MAKING SOME ASSUMPTIONS AND MAKING SOME STATEMENTS THAT ARE NOT BIBLICALLY WARRANTED. I HAVE PROBABLY READ AND HEARD EVERY ARGUMENT ABOUT THE WAY CHURCHES SHOULD BE RUN THAT IS OUT THERE. FOR YEARS, I PASTORED CHURCHES THAT WERE CONGREGATIONAL IN THE WAY THEY WERE RUN. FRANKLY, FOR BIBLICAL REASONS AND FOR PRACTICAL REASONS I NEVER WANT TO GO BACK TO THAT. I HAVE SEEN AND EXPERIENCED THE DAMAGE THAT THAT KIND OF SET UP PRODUCES. OUR CHURCHES IN AMERICA ARE OFTEN IN A MESS; THEY ARE IN DISARRAY WITH A VERSION OF THE SITUATION IN JUDGES BEING PRODUCED ALL OVER AGAIN – EVERY MAN (AND WOMAN) DOING WHAT IS RIGHT IN HIS OWN EYES IN THE CHURCH. THERE IS A CRISIS OF LEADERSHIP IN THE HOME AND IN THE CHURCH. I THINK SOME OF THE STATEMENTS THAT ARE MADE IN YOUR QUOTES SUCH AS THAT PAUL AND OTHERS LIKE TIMOTHY WERE NOT ELDERS ARE UNWARRANTED. IN FACT, PETER WHO WAS AN APOSTLE SAYS HE WAS AN ELDER IN I PETER 5:1 AND PAUL HOLDS HIMSELF UP AS AN EXAMPLE TO ELDERS FROM EPHESUS IN ACTS 20. ACTS 1 IS SOMETHINES QUOTED AS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW DECISIONS WERE MADE CONGREGATIONALLY. IT’S IMPORTANT IN THIS PASSAGE TO NOTICE WHO WAS DOING THE LEADING IN VERSES 2, 3 AND 13. IT’S TRUE IN THE PASSAGE THAT LATER THERE WERE OTHERS WHO ,JOINED THEM ACCORDING TO VERSE 15. BUT THEY CERTAINLY DIDN’T VOTE . THE PASSAGES SAYS THAT THEY ALL PRAYED WHICH IS A GOOD THING AND SHOULD BE DONE BY THE WHOLE CHURCH WHEN OFFICERS ARE BEING SELECTED, BUT VERSE 26 INDICATES THAT THE MAN THAT WAS CHOSEN WAS NOT CHOSEN BY A VOTE, BUT BY CASTING LOTS.
SIMILARLY, ACTS 13 CANNOT BE USED AS AN EXAMPLE OF CONGREGATIONAL RULE BECAUSE AGAIN IN THIS INSTANCE IT WAS NOT THE CONGREGATION THAT DECIDED WHO WOULD BE SET APART – THAT WAS DONE BY DIRECT REVELATION. AND THAT ISN’T HAPPENING ANYMORE. WE HAVE A COMPLETED SCRIPTURE. GOD HAS SAID ALL HE IS GOING TO SAY AND ALL THAT NEEDS TO BE SAID. AT THAT POINT IN CHURCH HISTORY, ALL THEY HAD WAS THE OLD TESTAMENT. SO GOD REVEALED HIMSELF AND HISWILL IN WAYS OTHER THAN WRITTEN SCRIPTURE. NOT SO ANY MORE. NOT NEEDED ANY MORE SINCE WE HAVE THE COMPLETED CANON. IN ACTS 13 THESE MEN WERE NOT SELECTED BY CONGREGATIONAL VOTE.
AND FURTHER – PEOPLE CAN DO ALL THE GYMNASTICS THEY WANT WITH WORDS IN TERMS OF TITUS 1:5 AND ACTS 14:23, BUT IT IS CLEAR FROM I TIMOTHY 5:17 THAT RULING WITH A SERVANT SPIRIT IS MORE THAN LABORING IN WORD AND DOCTRINE. YES, ELDERS RULE IN PART BY MEANS OF PREACHING AND TEACHING GOD’S WORD. CERTAINLY THAT’S AN IMPORTANT PART OF RULING, BUT THAT’S NOT ALL OF WHAT PAUL MEANT. THE WORD “ESPECIALLY” MAKES A DISTINCTION INDICATING THAT THE RULING AND LABORING IN WORD AND DOCTRINE ARE NOT IDENTICAL IN EVERY RESPECT. ALSO, IN REFERENCE TO THIS DISCUSSION, I DON‘T HEAR OR READ ANYONE ADDRESSING THE SPECIFICS OF THE “HAVE CHARGE OVER YOU” ISSUE OF I THESSALONIANS 5:12, 13. ALSO I HAVE NOT HEARD THE SPECIFICS OF THE “OBEY” AND “SUBMIT” COMMANDS OF HEBREWS 13:17 EXPLAINED. WHAT DO THESE WORDS MEAN? DO THEY MEAN SOMETHING OR NOTHING? PEOPLE CAN FOOL AROUND WITH SOME OF THE OTHER WORDS IF THEY WANT AS THEY OVERLOOK THE IMMEDIATE AND LARGER CONTEXT OF SCRIPTURE ON THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE. THE MEANING OF WORDS MUST NOT ONLY BE DETERMINED BY LOOKING AT A GREEK OR HEBREW DICTIONARY (LEXICON), BUT ALSO BY LOOKING AT THE IMMEDIATE AND LARGER CONTEXT OF SCRIPTURE – BY COMPARING SCRIPTURE WITH SCRIPTURE. PEOPLE MAY SAY THAT CERTAIN WORDS MEAN SOMETHING OTHER THAN WHAT THE WORDS APPOINT, ORDAIN AND SET IN ORDER USUALLY MEAN. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE WORDS “OBEY” AND “SUBMIT” AND “RULE” AND “HAVE CHARGE” AND “APPRECIATE” AND “”ESTEEM AND THAT THEY MAY DO THEIR WORK WITH JOY AND NOT WITH GRIEF” WHICH ARE FOUND IN I THESSALONIANS 5:12,13; HEBREWS 13:17; ACTS 14:23 AND I TIMOTHY 5:17? ANY WAY, THERE YOU HAVE SOME OF MY THOUGHTS – MY UNDERSTANDING OF SCRIPTURE ON CHURCH LEADERSHIP. OTHERS MAY DISAGREE – SOME BECAUSE THEY THINK OF ELDER RULE AS DICTATORSHIP; BECAUSE THEY MISUNDERSTAND THE WAY ELDER RULE SHOULD FUNCTION EVEN AS MANY MISUNDERSTAND THE WAY THE LEADERSHIP OF THE HUSBAND SHOULD FUNCTION IN THE HOME. IN ANY CHURCH THAT PRACTICED SERVANT ELDERSHIP RULE WHERE I SERVED WE ALWAYS INVOLVED PEOPLE. WE NEVER ACTED UNILATERALLY. SOME PEOPLE ARE SCARED OF WHAT MAY HAPPEN; THEY ARE IMAGINING THINGS THAT NEVER HAVE OR HOPEFULLY NEVER WILL HAPPEN WHEN GODLY ELDERS WHO ARE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT GOD’S GLORY AND THE GOOD OF GOD’S PEOPLE THAN THEY ARE ABOUT HAVING THEIR OWN WAY AND THROWING THEIR WEIGHT AROUND. WHERE SERVANT ELDER RULE IS PRACTICED BIBLICALLY, PEOPLE WILL BE CONSULTED; PEOPLE WILL BE LISTENED TO; IDEAS AND PERSPECTIVES OF PEOPLE WILL BE SOUGHT AFTER AND FACTORED IN. IT WOULD BE UNBIBLICAL NOT TO DO THIS AS WELL AS FOOLISH AND DISASTROUS. THE AFFIRMATION OF THE PEOPLE IS ESSENTIAL AND IT OUGHT TO BE SOUGHT.
WILL EVERY FINAL DECISION OR CONCLUSION THE ELDERS COME TO BE ACCEPTED AND APPROVED BY EVERYONE? PROBABLY NOT. BUT THAT SHOULDN’T SURPRISE US OR ALARM US BECAUSE EVEN IN CONGREGATIONAL RULE CHURCHES YOU HAVE PEOPLE WHO DISAGREE WITH THE VOTE OF THE MAJORITY. WHERE SERVANT LEADERSHIP (ELDER RULE) IS PROPERLY PRACTICED, THE CONSENSUS OF PRAYING, HUMBLE, SERIOUS PEOPLE WILL BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. AND IF THE CONSENSUS OF THE GODLY, PRAYING, DEVOTED, CHRIST LOVING AND HONORING PEOPLE SEES IT ONE WAY THEN THE LEADERSHIP OF THE CHURCH WHERE SERVANT ELDERSHIP LEADERSHIP IS APPROPRIATELY PRACTICED WILL MAKE THE PERSPECTIVES OF THE CONGREGATION A LARGE FACTOR IN WHAT THE CHURCH DOES AND HOW IT FUNCTIONS IN MATTERS THAT ARE NOT CLEARLY LAID OUT IN GOD’S WORD. IN FACT, APART FROM BIBLICAL QUALIFICATIONS AND PRINCIPLE, A MOST IMPORTANT PART OF MAKING A DECISION FOR GODLY, BIBLICAL ELDERS WILL BE THE CONSENSUS OF THE PRAYING, GODLY, HUMBLE, DEVOTED, CONGREGATION.
THE CONGREGATION WILL HAVE A VOTE EVEN IF THEY DON‘T HAVE A FORMAL, RAISE YOUR HAND, CAST A BALLOT, SAY “AYE” KIND OF PROCEDURE. PEOPLE NEED NEVER FEAR: WITH GODLY ELDERS THE PRAYERFUL PERSPECTIVES OF THE CONGREGATION ARE IMPORTANT AND WILL BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION.
I found this description of the biblical responsibilities of elders on a blog by a colleague here in South Africa. Since it is somewhat related to what we’ve been discussing about church leadership, I include it here. Steve Plodenic of Christ’s Seminary gets the credit for putting it together. Thanks Steve for your hard work. Take it away Steve.
This is a list of responsibilities for elders and not a definition of those responsibilities nor a description of how they are to be carried out. This list must not be considered as the only responsibilities that elders are accountable for. The obligation to “shepherd the flock of God” encompasses much more than any list can include. This starting point provides the basic direction, points of accountability and principles needed for an elder to fulfill his ministry.
Most of the NT passages dealing with the responsibilities of Elders/Overseers/Bishops:
Acts: 6:1-6; 11:28-30; 14:23; 15:1-7; 15:20-23; 15:28; 16:4; 20:17-21; 20:28-31; 20:35; 21:17-25. Romans: 12:8. 1 Corinthians: 3:1-11; 4:1-2. 1 Thessalonians: 5:12-13, 1 Timothy: 1:18-19; 3:1-7; 4:7; 4:12-5:22; 6:10-14; 6:20. 2 Timothy: 2:15; 4:1-2, Titus: 1:5-9; 2:1; 2:7; 2:15-3:2; 3:10. Hebrews: 13:7; 13:17; 13:24. James 5:14, 1 Peter 5:1-5.
Responsibilities of Elders Stated Positively
Elders are to;
1) have the authority to delegate important tasks, Acts 6:1-6
2) direct the congregation in important tasks, Acts 6:1-6
3) initiate ministries within the church, Acts 6:1-6
4) devote themselves to prayer, Acts 6:1-6
5) devote themselves to the ministry of the Word, Acts 6:1-6
6) lay their hands on individuals to commission them to ministry, Acts 6:1-6; 1 Tim. 4:14, 5:21-22
7) be involved with and responsible for finances, Acts 11:28-30
8) serve for the people in the church, Acts 14:23
9) hear-out and judge doctrinal issues in the church, Acts 15:1-7
10) check on the status and progress of other ministers, Acts 15:1-7, 21:17-19
11) examine doctrinal issues, Acts 15:1-7
12) discuss/debate doctrinal issues between themselves, Acts 15:1-7
13) inform the church of their decisions concerning doctrinal issues, Acts 15:20-23 & 28
14) involve the congregation in making some decisions, Acts 6:1-6, 15:20-23 & 28
15) make decisions that are binding upon the church, Acts 15:20-23 & 28, 16:4
16) be with the people, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35
17) serve the Lord by serving the church with humility, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35
18) declare to the church anything that is profitable for them, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35
19) teach the people in public, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35; 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
20) teach the people in private, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35; 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
21) declare doctrines of the gospel, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35
22) stand guard over their own life and doctrine, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35
23) stand guard over the life and doctrine of the church, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35
24) shepherd the church, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35; 1 Peter 5:1-5
25) be alert and watchful, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35
26) remember the faithfulness of past elders and imitate them, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35
27) be an example to the church, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35; 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2; Titus 2:7; 1 Peter 5:1-5
28) work hard, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35; 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5: 17 & 21-22
29) help the weak, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35
30) remember the words of Jesus, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35
31) give rather than receive, Acts 20:17-21, 28-31 & 35
32) resolve important issues on their own authority, Acts 21:17-25
33) lead the congregation, Rom. 12:8; Heb. 13:7 & 17
34) be careful and precise in how they go about their duties, 1 Cor. 3:1-11
35) be seen as servants of God, 1 Cor. 4:1-2
36) administrate the mysteries of God, 1 Cor. 4:1-2
37) be trustworthy, 1 Cor. 4:1-2
38) be in charge of and rule over the congregation, 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17
39) fight for the faith, 1 Tim. 1:18-19, 6:10-14
40) maintain faith and not be shaken, 1 Tim. 1:18-19
41) have a clear conscience, 1 Tim. 1:18-19
42) men who desire to serve in the office of elder, 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9
43) be blameless, above reproach, 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9<
44) be the husband of one wife, 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9
45) rule their own house well and with dignity, 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9
46) be self-controlled, temperate, sober, 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9
47) be sensible, sane, of sound mind, 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9<
48) be well behaved, orderly descent, 1 Tim. 3:1-7
49) be given to hospitality, 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9
50) be forbearing, considerate, moderate, gentle, 1 Tim. 3:1-7
51) be peaceable, 1 Tim. 3:1-7
52) be able to teach, 1 Tim. 3:1-7
53) able to keep his children under control with dignity, 1 Tim. 3:1-7
54) take care of the church, 1 Tim. 3:1-7
55) have a good reputation with those outside the church, 1 Tim. 3:1-7
56) discipline themselves with, in and for godliness, 1 Tim. 4:7
57) be an example of proper speech to all believers, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
58) be an example of proper conduct to all believers, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
59) be an example of proper love to all believers, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
60) be an example of proper faith to all believers, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
61) be an example of proper purity to all believers, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
62) read Scripture in public, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
63) exhort believers, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
64) take pains to be precise in living godly, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
65) be absorbed in living godly and their duties, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
66) be noticeably maturing in the faith, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
67) examine their own teaching carefully, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
68) examine their own lives carefully, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
69) persevere in godly living, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
70) treat all people properly according to their station, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
71) must not discriminate at all, 1 Tim. 5:21-22
72) be careful about laying on hands so they do not release an unqualified person on the church, 1 Tim. 5:21-22
73) keep themselves free from sin, 1 Tim. 5:21-22
74) flee from greed, 1 Tim. 6:10-14
75) pursue righteousness, 1 Tim. 6:10-14
76) pursue godliness, 1 Tim. 6:10-14
77) pursue faith, 1 Tim. 6:10-14
78) pursue love, 1 Tim. 6:10-14
79) pursue perseverance, 1 Tim. 6:10-14
80) pursue gentleness, 1 Tim. 6:10-14
81) keep the commandment without fault, 1 Tim. 6:10-14
82) guard the responsibilities entrusted to them, 1 Tim. 6:20
83) avoid worldly chatter, 1 Tim. 6:20
84) avoid empty chatter, 1 Tim. 6:20
85) avoid false and apparently knowledgeable arguments, 1 Tim. 6:20
86) diligently work to be approved by God, 2 Tim. 2:15
87) accurately handle the Word of Truth, 2 Tim. 2:15
88) preach the Word, 2 Tim. 4:1-2; Heb. 13:7
89) be ready at all times to fulfill your responsibilities, 2 Tim. 4:1-2
90) reprove with patience and instruction, 2 Tim. 4:1-2
91) rebuke with patience and instruction, 2 Tim. 4:1-2
92) exhort with patience and instruction, 2 Tim. 4:1-2
93) maintain order in the church, Titus 1:5-9
94) have children who believe, Titus 1:5-9
95) be God’s stewards, Titus 1:5-9
96) ove goodness and what is good, Titus 1:5-9
97) be just, fair, righteous, Titus 1:5-9
98) be holy, devout, pious, Titus 1:5-9
99) hold firmly to the faithful word and teach it, Titus 1:5-9
100) exhort the church in sound doctrine, Titus 1:5-9
101) refute those who contradict sound doctrine, Titus 1:5-9
102) speak in accordance with sound doctrine, Titus 2:1
103) maintain purity in doctrine, Titus 2:7
104) be dignified, Titus 2:7
105) exercise authority when speaking, exhorting and reproving, Titus 2:15-3:2
106) remind the congregation to be subject to their rulers, Titus 2:15-3:2
107) remind the congregation to be subject to those in authority over them, Titus 2:15-3:2
108) remind the congregation to be obedient, Titus 2:15-3:2
109) remind the congregation to be ready to do good deeds, Titus 2:15-3:2
110) remind the congregation to not speak evil of or malign anyone, Titus 2:15-3:2
111) remind the congregation to be peaceable, Titus 2:15-3:2
112) remind the congregation to be gentle, Titus 2:15-3:2
113) remind the congregation to be considerate of all people, Titus 2:15-3:2
114) cast out factious people in the church, Titus 3:10
115) keep watch over the souls of believers, Heb. 13:17
116) give an account of their ministry to God, Heb. 13:17
117) pray for those in the church, James 5:14
118) minister to those who are sick, James 5:14
119) shepherd the flock of God, 1 Peter 5:1-5
120) exercise oversight of the church, 1 Peter 5:1-5
121) serve the church voluntarily, 1 Peter 5:1-5
122) be elders according to the will of God, 1 Peter 5:1-5
123) serve with eagerness, 1 Peter 5:1-5
124) be humble, 1 Peter 5:1-5
Responsibilities of Elders Stated Negatively
Elders must not;
1) neglect the Word of God, Acts 6:1-6
2) be an innovator in the basics of the faith, 1 Cor. 3:1-11
3) be a drunkard or given to drink, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9
4) be greedy, covetous, a lover of money, or fond of sordid gain, 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5
5) be quick-tempered, inclined to anger, pugnacious, nor violent, 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9
6) be a new convert, a novice, 1 Tim. 3:1-7
7) fall into reproach, 1 Tim. 3:1-7
8) fall into the snares of the devil, 1 Tim. 3:1-7
9) be involved in worthless worldly rumors and fables, 1 Tim. 4:7
10) neglect their spiritual gifts, 1 Tim. 4:12-5:2
11) be ashamed, 2 Tim. 2:15
12) be accused of dissipation, Titus 1:5-9
13) be accused of rebellion, Titus 1:5-9
14) be arrogant or self-willed, 1 Titus 1:5-9
15) let anyone disregard them, Titus 2:15-3:2
16) serve under compulsion, 1 Peter 5:1-5
17) serve for financial reasons, 1 Peter 5:1-5
18) think they are lords of the congregation, 1 Peter 5:1-5
THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS ABOUT CHURCH LEADERSHIP
In Acts 14:23, we read that “they” appointed elders in every church. Who were the “they” who appointed elders? Well, the “they” of verse 23 must be interpreted in the light of the “they” of verses 21 and 22. Clearly the “they” of verses 21 and 22 refers to the missionary team of Paul.
I Timothy 3:1 along with many other passages indicate that elders are overseer. What does it mean to be an overseer? Are elders to be underseers who wait for the congregation to make the decisions and then follows through with their orders? Are they to check everything out with the congregation? Where does the checking out begin and where does it stop? How much and how little do the elders have the congregation vote on? On what issues should they do this and on what issues should they not do this?
In I Timothy 3:4, 5 the Bible says that elders are responsible to manage the church of God? What does managing involve? Does this mean that the elders should put everything up for a vote and then simply orchestrate what the congregation has decided? Where does managing start and where does it stop?
Later in I Timothy 5:17 Scripture talks about the elders ruling? What does that mean? Again, should they put everything up for a vote and let the congregation decide how they and the church should function on issues not clearly spelled out in Scripture?
Chapter 5:18 – 25 gives instructions about how elders should be selected, taken care of, treated and even disciplines. Well, to whom were these instructions primarily given? Who was responsible to do these things? I think I Timothy 1:1, 2 makes it very clear that Timothy as a prototype elder/pastor was responsible to carry out these instructions. Certainly every elder will want to seek the counsel of, gather the opinion and affirmation of godly people. It would be foolish and prideful as well as unbiblical for elders not to do this.
Moving on – what did Paul mean when he said that it was the responsibility of Titus who was functioning as an elder/pastor at the church in Crete to set in order what remains and to appoint elders in every city (1:5). Was he telling Titus who again was a prototype of all elders and pastors to put these issues up to a vote? And when he told him in 1:10, 11 to silence the “rebellious, empty talkers’ was he suggesting that it was necessary for Titus to call a congregational meeting and ask the congregation for their approval before he did this?
And what did Paul mean when he wrote to the Thessalonians and told them that the elders had charge over them in the Lord? What does it mean to have charge? What was the nature of their authority? Certainly it involved faithfully preaching God’s Word and commanding people to obey it? But did their authority extend to other congregational issues such as scheduling the time of the services, choosing what hymns should be sung, choosing the days on which special services were to be held, selecting elders, selecting Bible Study materials, etc.? Did they first have to bring these items up to the congregation in terms of the decisions that were made? Having “charge” must mean something.
Why have elders at all? Why not just have congregational meetings? Why should it be necessary for the elders to be prudent and hold fast to the faithful word if what they do must first be submitted to the congregation for a vote? What is the point to having elders and calling them overseers if they are primarily followers when it comes to important issues of congregational life?
Scripture calls elders Shepherds (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:1, 2). What does it mean to be a Shepherd? Does a shepherd have any responsibility to lead – to set the pace or should the sheep be doing the leading?
And what about Hebrews 13:7? What does verse 7 mean when it says that Christians in the congregation should imitate the faith or faithfulness of their leaders? What does Scripture mean when it speaks of the fact that the leaders are to lead Christians. What does it mean to lead? Certainly elders are to lead by teaching the Word of God, but is that all the Bible means by leading. What about issues where there is not a clear thus saith the Lord? What about issues where we can’t turn to the Word for specific direction? As mentioned previously, certainly in keeping with Proverbs 15:22 and 11:14 any godly elder will be interested in the perspectives of the people even as any godly husband who is charged with the responsibility to manage and lead his wife and family will seek the counsel of his wife. And unless he has some very good, in most cases biblical reason for not following her counsel he won’t do something which she strongly opposes. In similar fashion godly elders will avoid being authoritarian. Certainly they will consult with the people over whom they have God given leadership responsibilities when making important decisions. Certainly, as godly husbands will listen to their wives, godly elders will listen to their people and be slow to do anything with which the people in their church disagree unless it is specifically commanded by Scripture.
And what does Hebrews 13:17 mean when it says that the people of the church are to obey their leaders and submit to them? Certainly this doesn’t mean that church members are to obey and submit to their elders on issues that are contrary to Scripture? Nor, does it mean that Christians are obligated to obey and submit to their elders on issues to which the Scripture does not speak or even give guiding principles. But when it comes to matters related to the elders fulfilling their God given responsibilities such leading the church, feeding and teaching the church, caring for the church, protecting the church, motivating the church, watching over the souls of the people in the church, guiding and overseeing the church, disciplining wayward church members and rescuing people who have gone astray, the members are responsible to obey and submit to them and do their best to make their ministry a joy and a delight (I Thessalonians 5:12,13; Hebrews 13:17).
And incidentally, if you want to read more about the biblical concept of leadership in the church and what it means for Christians to obey and submit to their elders, you will find more exposition of these issues in a book that David Swavely and I wrote called Life in the Father’s House. You may order a copy of this from www.mackministries.org or http://www.audubonpress.com.
The cutting edge of the church in the city is lordship evangelism – Jesus proclaimed by word and deed, Jesus our justification and our justice…
My son, the other blogger on this site asked me to answer the question: How have you normally dealt with a person who just won’t stop talking? A conversation dominator in counseling? So here goes!
One answer to that question is the one I observed Bob Newhart giving on his television program when counseling a woman who said she was panic struck by the thought of being buried in a box. When this woman told him her problem he asked her if she was ready for the answer. She said she was and then asked if she should write his answer down. Newhart said that he didn’t think she’d need to do that because his answer would be only two words and he thought that most people could remember the two words without writing them down. Then he said, “Here are the two words: Stop it.” When she tried to bring up other problems he would either say, “We don’t go there” or “Stop it.”So my advice to the counselor who has a person who won’t stop talking is that he/she should say and keep saying, “Stop it” or “We don’t go there.”
Actually I’m just joking in what I just wrote. In reality, Newhart’s solution is only a part (the last part) of what I would do. There is much that I would do prior to using the Newhart technique. Before I lovingly and yet forthrightly told this person to “stop it” I would want to investigate this persons reason for wanting to dominate the conversation. Proverbs 18:13 warns us about answering a matter before we have really investigated what is going on. There may be many reasons why a person dominates the conversation in counseling and you can be fairly sure that if that person dominates the conversation in the counseling session they are also doing that outside the counseling session. This person’s behavior in counseling then becomes a counseling issue with which the counselor must deal.
Here are some of the most common reasons why a person may dominate conversations in or out of the counseling session:
1). Pride – Romans 12:3; 3 John 9, 10; Prov. 18:2;
2). Selfishness – lack of love for God and others – 2 Tim. 3:2;
3). Fear of silence, not wanting to appear dumb – Prov. 29:25;
5). Past training – parental influence, example, neglect;
6). Poor listening habits on the part of other people or on the part of the speaker;
7). Desire to control what is discussed thereby avoid talking about unpleasant issues – avoidance technique;
8). Desire to force other person into submission, convince, overpower;
9). Ignorance of the harm it does – Prov. 17:9;
10). Frustration, anger, desire to punish the other person;
11). Most important reason why some people overtalk = impure heart – Mark 7:21-23; Luke 6:43-45.
That brings us to the issue of how to help a person overcome the problem of talking too much or, in biblical terms, the problem of being a “babbling fool” (Proverbs 10:8, 19 in or out of the counseling session. Here are several suggestions:
1). Identify that the person has a problem in this area – mention your observation and give reasons for your observation.
2). Then ask them whether or not they recognize that they are doing this.
3). Then ask them to answer the question why they think they are doing this? Help them to identify the reason for their overtalk – why do you think you practice overtalk?
4). Have them read chapter 7 in Your Family God’s Way and take the inventory about the forms of overtalk at the end of the chapter and also have them complete the inventory about the reasons for overtalk at the end of the chapter.
5). Have them study and reflect on the Scriptures that deal with overtalk such as Proverbs 10:8,19; 17:9; 15:28; Ephesians 5:3,4.
6). Have them memorize such verses as Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 17:9; Proverbs 10:19; 12:23; 17:27, 28 and review these verses regularly.
7). For a period of time have them keep a daily journal in which at the end of the day they evaluate their communication efforts in terms of times they dominated and why they did it.
8). Remind them that overtalk that violates biblical principles is sin. .
9). Tell them that if they practice overtalk that violates biblical principles and if their reasons for overtalk are sinful, they must confess their sin to God, ask Him for forgiveness and help.
10). Instruct them to make themselves accountable to someone else who will remind them when you are guilty of overtalk.
11). Give them an assignment to memorize and regularly pray the prayer of the Psalmist – Psalm 19:14; Psalm 141:3
12). Have them memorize and regularly pray the prayer of Elizabeth Eliot.
“Lord, deliver me from the urge to open my mouth when I should shut it. Give me wisdom to keep silent when silence is wise. Remind me that not everything needs to be said and that there are very few things that need to be said by me.”
13). Explain and apply the truth of Matthew 12:34, 36, 37 and Proverbs 4:23; 27:19 to them.
“The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart…Every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified and by your words you shall be condemned.”
Ask them what they think these texts mean and how they apply to them. Make sure you tell them that these texts mean that our words are important; that they mean God listens to our speech and remembers what we say; they means if they are violating God’s will in this area by dominating conversations of life they should want to change. These texts mean that if we are violating His will to our attention we will be concerned about it and that if we are guilty of overtalk in any of the ways we’ve mentioned and for any of the reasons we’ve mentioned we’ll want to change because this kind of behavior is displeasing to God and because it will hinder our relationships with and our godly impact on other people.
These texts mean that if our behavior violates God’s Word the ultimate problem is not with our behavior; it is with our hearts. They mean that change must begin in the heart through recognizing the problem, confession, repentance, faith, prayer, meditation on God’s Word, getting their heart cleansed from sinful motives and filling their hearts with godly thoughts and desires and disciplining themselves to put off this unbiblical behavior and put on godly speech patterns through practice – Matthew 12:34; Proverbs 4:23; James 4:8; I Timothy 4:7.
Then after working though all of these issues in counseling if they still continue the practice of dominating the conversation in counseling you may use the Newhart technique and say with emphasis, “Stop it” and “We don’t go there” because it is displeasing to God and will hinder your effectiveness and fruitfulness for Him in this world.
We just returned from a time of ministry in Mexico and San Antonio, Texas. In Texas we spent time with Dr. Marshall Asher, an elder in charge of Biblical Counseling at Believer’s Fellowship Church in San Antonio. We also had extended conversations with the chairman of their missions committee and another elder who is vitally interested in missions from the church. We had the opportunity of viewing with the Asher’s the DVD of our ministry in the last 9 months and leave it behind for the rest of the church to view. We spent a lot of time talking about the Grace School of Ministry and Tshofelo orphanage ministries in which we’re involved in South Africa. They would like to have all the information we can give them about these ministries.
When the orphanage is up and running, Dr. Asher who is a dentist would be thrilled to come over and use his skills as a dentist to help the children. We could probably get some physicians who are interested also.
Our time in Mexico City went well. 25 churches with many pastors represented. Biggest conference they’ve ever had – twice as big as any other conference they’ve had. They were thrilled. I’m so glad as it was encouraging to them. Really hungry people – went well even through a translator. PFG has translated several of my books into Spanish and at the conference they sold a pile of them with me autographing them. They’ve already distributed a lot of Strengthening Your Marriage in Spanish.
What a city Mexico City is – largest in the world – over 26 million people. Publiacione Faro Gracia (PFG) is translating and publishing some really good stuff – presently they have 1600 titles in their book store – they will soon be publishing our Life in the Father’s House and the Homework Manuals (all three) in Spanish. They’ve already done many of the books of Jay Adams and some of the works of John MacArthur. Some of Martin Lloyd Jones’ stuff is available. They want to blanket Spanish speaking countries with good Reformed literature.
Ligon Duncan along with myself and a few others are on the board – they interviewed him and me and are putting together a promo DVD using our interviews. They, of course, are trying to raise money to pay for publishing in that they want to keep the price low for Spanish pastors who really are somewhat poor.
Anyway, it was a great time – met many dedicated Spanish pastors and people. Pray for this worthy outreach ministry to the Spanish speaking people of the world. Especially pray for Wayne Andersen, the president of PFG and pastor of a church in Mexico City and Blair Smith and Julio who are his worthy assistants in the publishing ministry.