Defiance Or Disobedience

No doubt you have seen videos of popular preachers proclaiming loudly and publicly that their church will not obey one regulation or another because they must obey God’s commands over man’s commands.

First, let me say that such choosing to obey God’s Word over man’s wicked mandates is something that we firmly believe to be required at times in the church. Deciding when that line should be drawn is something that many people may debate. However, Scripture gives us clear examples of individuals and groups who disobeyed wicked decrees in order to obey God.

Here are a few: 

Hebrew midwives refused to kill the male children and lied to Pharaoh about why they did not obey. Exodus 1:15-21

 

Rahab hid the Israelite spies and lied about their location to the authorities. Joshua 2

 

Obediah hid 100 of God’s prophets from being slaughtered by Jezebel. 1 Kings 18:3-4

 

Daniel continued to pray to God, per his normal routine, when commanded to only pray to the king. Daniel 6

 

The three Hebrew children refused to bow to the golden idol when the music played. Daniel 3

 

Peter and John continued to preach the gospel after being threatened and beaten and told to stop. Acts 4:13-22, 5:17-42

 

Revelation describes a time where all men are required to worship the beast and his image and those who refuse will be put to death. We assume this to mean that some will refuse. Revelation 13:15

These are the main proofs we lean on when choosing to disobey earthly commands in favor of obeying God’s commands. These acts of ‘civil disobedience’ were done specifically because the people were commanded to disobey God’s clear law/commands in one way or another.

However, there are two key components to these acts of disobedience that are often missed, especially by many who claim the need for it in our American culture. Those components are fear of God and humility.

In several of these passages, we see a proper reverence of God.

Exodus 1:17

[17] But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. (ESV)

Joshua 2:8–11

[8] Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof [9] and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. [10] For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. [11] And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. (ESV)

1 Kings 18:3

[3] And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly, (ESV)

These acts of disobedience were done either secretly or without abnormal fanfare or public dissent toward those in authority. Yes, in some instances there were clear, pointed, and firm responses given, such as the three hebrew children and Peter and John.

However, even in those examples we only see these strong words in response to accusation and questioning by the governing authorities. They were not standing on the street corner defying the government, but when asked why they disobeyed, they were ready to give a clear and complete answer of their loyalty to God above men.

In none of these instances do we see an attitude of defiance toward the governing authorities. Rather we see a heart of humility toward their God and a willingness to face the consequences of their actions, even to the point of death, not kicking and screaming, but in full acceptance of God’s sovereign plan.

This is a key distinction we must consider as we seek to navigate the ever-changing laws and mandates of our local and national authorities.

Pride Says

“I must stand up to those who oppose my views and call them out in an effort to bring about my desired outcome.”

Humility Says

“I must continue to obey God even if it means suffering for that obedience at the hands of wicked men.”

It is one thing to obey God’s commands when they conflict with man’s laws. It is a far different thing to openly and loudly draw attention to your disobedience as an act of defiance to those God has placed in authority.

These spiritual leaders who are publicly decrying the mandates of the governing authorities, while possibly correct in choosing to disobey them, are doing so in a prideful manner that diminishes the Gospel impact of their disobedience. They are virtually daring the government to act on their mandates expecting them to back down on following through with any stated consequence.

This is not the example we see in Scripture.

The proud heart resists both man’s mandates and the consequences that may come from disobedience. The humble heart submits to God’s commands understanding and accepting that it may bring about suffering.

There may well be a day in the near future when we as a church must choose to disobey a legal mandate in order to obey God’s commands. If we suffer for it, let us be glad as the apostles were that we get to share just a bit in Christ’s suffering.

Acts 5:40–42

[40] and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. [41] Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. [42] And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. (ESV)

 However, until that day comes let us not seek to defy God’s appointed rulers, but rather, let us seek to be people who give honor even when disobedience is required.

May we as a local body never be marked by the pride of defiance but by the humility of obedience to God.

COVID-19 Statement (Updated)

This week has certainly been interesting as we have witnessed local, state and federal governing agencies issue new recommendations that will impact our public gathering of worship for at least the next 3 weeks and potentially even beyond depending on how things progress. We received official communications from the school district that they have suspended extracurricular activities across all facilities through April 5th. With that said, we are sure that you all are wondering what church will look like and we certainly want to provide answers to those questions, but before we do, let’s talk about the process that we as elders have walked through in coming to the conclusions that we have. Why does this matter for you? Because it involves you. Remember, you are the church. Before you are a citizen of the United States before you are a tax-paying resident in the State of Missouri or your respective county, you are a citizen of a heavenly kingdom, an ambassador of Christ, as 2 Corinthians 5:20 reminds us.

In the spirit of transparency, this week has been extremely challenging for us as we wrestled with reconciling our desire to stay obedient and true to the Scripture’s command to ‘gather faithfully’ for the worship of our Risen Lord, while also desiring to faithfully model good citizenship and social responsibility as we consider the good of the general population. So, what then is a church to do in these troubling times?

As we look to Scripture, we don't find an explicit chapter and verse on what steps to take during a worldwide pandemic, but what we do find is the general wisdom and heart of true Christianity in its most basic form. The Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:14 summarizes the entire law in this one statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We can also look to the heart of Romans 13, and although it is positioned as an ‘individual’ response of submission to authority, it certainly should influence our corporate response as well. As we individually obey, we are called to then gather together with other like-minded believers, which should result in collective obedience as the Body of Christ.

In the spirit of ‘loving our neighbor’ and ‘submitting to governing authorities,’ we recognize that our government is requesting that organizations of all kinds adhere to the wise and reasonable request to temporarily suspend gathering in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 (i.e. the Coronavirus). There are no specific passages that address the corporate gathering of the church and its broader relationship to governing authorities; however, what we do know is that our governing authorities are not demanding compliance in an effort to silence our gospel influence, but rather they are urging us to act in partnership with other efforts for the "good" of the general population. We as the church in our context as Liberty Hills Bible Church would like to unashamedly support the health, protection, and well-being of our community as we remember that this is the same community that we are called to serve, love and reach with the good news of the gospel. With that in mind, our position is that we should comply with these requests to limit gatherings of 10+ for the next 2 weeks as outlined by our President, and then we would further evaluate the status of our local Clay County restriction of 50+ for next 8 weeks.

Those numbers are daunting to consider and we are confronted with questions as we wrestle through the ever-evolving circumstances. Are we disobeying the command to ‘gather faithfully’ in Hebrews if we were to suspend the public gathering of the church in the midst of a national health emergency? We as elders would contend that we are not in disobedience. We believe we could potentially do more harm than good, literally and figuratively, if we as the church insist on gathering while the rest of the world rallies together for the good of humanity. By God’s grace and for His glory, we desire to be on that side of history when the dust settles.

So let’s clarify a few practical items:

  1. We are NOT encouraging a ‘cease and desist’ of all body life within LHBC. 
  2. We ARE encouraging all members to look for unique and potentially ‘non-traditional’ ways to honor the heart of these biblical commands to ‘love your neighbor,’ ‘submit to governing authorities,’ and ‘to gather faithfully.’
  3. We ARE encouraging everyone to follow the guidelines that have been established for social distancing and self-quarantine.
  4. We ARE encouraging everyone to be mindful of the need to go above and beyond with communications, text messages, emails, phone calls, etc.  
  5. We ARE encouraging everyone to stay connected. Don’t allow yourself to fall into isolation during this time. Be proactive and be a blessing to someone else in your sphere of influence.
  6. We ARE encouraging you all to reach out to your deacon(s) within your life group if you or someone you know would encounter a physical or financial need during this time of uncertainty.
    • Stanley Life Group | Bob Anderson and Riley Swanson
    • Welch Life Group | Russ Palmer
    • Hermann Life Group | Aaron Hermann
  7. We ARE encouraging you all to reach out to an elder at any time if you need to talk or pray through anything specific that you or a member of your family may be dealing with. Our availability to you all is in no way impacted by this situation.

So what does ministry look like in these unique and challenging times?

  1. We will be “reworking” our Sunday services at a minimum for the next 3 weeks as our regular facilities are unavailable. 
  2. We will be providing an order of service and application questions that will provide a structure for a home/family worship time.
  3. We will be providing a livestream of our preaching time as we continue our journey through Genesis. 
  4. We will be hitting the pause button on AWANA indefinitely and will communicate a plan to finish out the 2019-2020 season in the coming weeks.  
  5. We will be providing further communication as we monitor the 8-week restriction on 50+ person gatherings that is actively in place by the Clay County Public Health Center.

In the meantime, we as elders would like to remind us all that we would never promote or advocate that we operate in this manner one day longer than we have to. We would never, even for one moment, trade a ‘livestream’ for ‘life-on-life’ shepherding. This is a season of providential hindrance and we believe we can and should be mindful of how the Lord might be using these present circumstances to draw us and others to Himself.

 We desire to fellowship and worship freely with the body. As elders, we cherish leading and shepherding His gathered Church in person, but if we believe in the sovereignty of God, which we do, we must also believe that in His wisdom He has allowed these circumstances to be present in our world for some specific reason. So in our feeble attempts to ‘get this right,’ we humbly admit our inadequacies before the Lord and seek His face through prayer and we would invite you to join us in that endeavor. Our hope and prayer are that we are able to resume our regular schedule as soon as would be appropriate and safe!  

Grace & Peace,

Andy, Dave & Eric

The Awkward Silence

Do you remember sitting in school, probably during some boring subject like English (sorry teachers), staring at your book or out the window or even at the front of the room but not really paying attention? You know what always happens when you do that? You get called on to answer a question that you didn’t even hear. You rack your brain trying to come up with the question from the foggy recesses of your subconscious memory as you stare dazed and confused at the teacher’s expectant face as an awkward silence builds in the room and you plead silently for the teacher to move on to someone else.

Unfortunately, this is often the same reaction in churches when there is a call for testimonies of what God is doing in our lives. Even if we know it’s coming, like a fifth-Sunday service, many people are still caught off guard with nothing to say. They sit in the awkward silence just waiting, hoping someone else will say something. Or they struggle to think of something they can say that will sound good and get them off the hook.

The early Corinthian church had many issues when it comes to their gatherings, including what they emphasized, who they respected, what they allowed in the form of sinful lifestyles, and many more issues. However, there is one small phrase in 1 Corinthians 14 that has always caught my eyes. It is in the midst of a passage where Paul once again is correcting something, but even in this correction I see a glimmer of something fantastic that I wish we had more of in our churches today.

1 Corinthians 14:26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. (ESV)

In the context, Paul is calling them to gather together in an orderly manner to avoid a crazy, confusing gathering. However, I think it’s interesting that Paul notes that everyone is coming to this meeting ready to share something. Some have songs to sing; some have lessons to teach; some have better understanding of Scripture to share and more. When the early church gathered, it was a joyous time and people were bursting at the seams to talk about what God was doing and to praise Him!

Does this verse describe you when you come to the gathering? Does it describe you when you get together with other families of believers or when you meet each other one-on-one? Are you continually bursting to share what God is doing in your life or is it like pulling teeth for you to come up with something to share?

You may be thinking, “Well, God hasn’t really been doing much lately” or “I’m just in a dry spot spiritually” or “I’m reading my Bible but just don’t get much out of it” or some other reason why it seems God isn’t working in your life.

If you have those thoughts, I want to remind you of a couple of verses from Philippians:

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (ESV)
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (ESV)

If you are a follower of Christ, God has already begun a good work in you and Scripture tells us that He is always working in us to change our will and our actions to match His desire for us until Christ’s return, when we will be raised to glory. However, if we are not willingly participating in God’s work, we are much less aware of the things that He is doing in our lives and the lives of those around us. In order to regain our perspective and see God’s hand at work, we need to remind ourselves of how He works and ensure that we are engaging in His process.

I want to quickly look at three ways that God works in our lives both individually, in small groups and even during our gatherings.

Bible Study & Meditation

This seems like the most obvious way that God works in our lives. We know the value of public preaching as a way to learn from Scripture and grow in our understanding of God and see where we need to change. However, I’m really more focused on our personal study and meditation.

2 Timothy 3:16–17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (ESV)

Paul reminded Timothy that Scripture is the main way that God uses to show us what is right, what is wrong, how to get right and how to stay right. It is the Word of God that the Holy Spirit uses to make us more like Christ. But are you actively engaged in this process? I don’t simply mean reading the Bible, but rather studying it, digging into it. Are you spending time thinking about what Scripture says or do you just read a chapter or follow a reading plan and assume you will grow? True study of Scripture takes time and work and meditation, however, when we engage in what God desires, we will see Him work to teach us more about Himself, about ourselves and about His will for us.

Prayer

Just as Bible study seems like a no-brainer, prayer is probably something you would have come up with as well. However, I want you to evaluate your prayer life as a whole, not just the way you pray or what you pray for. For the sake of space, I won’t quote the whole passage, but look at what James says:

James 5:15–16 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (ESV)

I believe this idea of praying in faith is praying with the expectation that God is going to do something. Now, I don’t believe that this is a promise that if we really believe what we pray, it will happen. That doesn’t line up with other Scriptures about praying within the will of God. However, I do believe that when we pray, we should expect God to do something. It may be that God answers the prayer as we have asked. It may be that God makes us wait or that God answers it in a way we don’t understand or want. But I wonder, do we really ask expecting an answer?

I know I’m guilty of saying things like, “Lord, if you will, do this thing that we desire.” But in reality, I’m not expecting to hear or see that He does anything. If we’re not looking for the answer, we may miss it entirely. However, if we are expecting an answer, we will see the answer when God makes it clear. If we are expecting an answer we will be more apt to continue praying for whatever it is that we are praying for.

This is true not only when we pray for ourselves, but when we pray for others as well. How often do we commit to pray for one another but don’t pray more than once? If we are expecting to see God work, we will pray more; we will ask for updates; we will encourage one another and grow together as we see God move.

Trials

One final way God works in our lives is through trials. No-one likes these because they are painful. They can be hard to understand why God is allowing us to go through them. They can cause us to turn our backs to Him and sulk in the corner as we try to make it through on our own. Yet, God allows these trials many times specifically to work in our lives as He promised to do.

James 1:2–4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (ESV)

1 Peter 1:6–7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (ESV)

These two verses give us a glimpse into why God allows these hard times in our lives. James tells us that He is doing so to produce a stronger faith, to make us more and more complete. Peter tells us that He does this to test our faith and prove that it is genuine.

You may be going through a trial right now, or perhaps you’ve been through one recently and you just don’t understand why God is allowing these things in your life. Even looking back, you may not be able to see why God allowed those things. If we are not engaging in the trials that God brings us through with a desire and thirst to have our faith increased, then we are missing out on what God is trying to do. Are you simply trying to get out of the trial or are you seeking to endure it with steadfast faith?

God has promised that He will work and is working in our lives. If we are willing to engage in His process of Scriptural study, expectant prayer and faithfulness through trials, we will see God’s hand molding and shaping us to become more like Christ. When we see it, we will be just like that early Corinthian church, full of people anxiously waiting their turn to share with the body what God is doing instead of waiting through the awkward silence for the next song to be sung.

Can you imagine that testimony service?!

What is a Life Group and why should I join one?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” This famous line from Romeo and Juliet aptly describes these things we call “Life Groups.” In fact, I don’t really know who came up with the term but if I remember correctly, it’s actually short for “Body Life Groups.” I think someone realized how weird having the “body” part sounded and so now they’re just “Life Groups.” There are many names that could be applied to the concept of Life Groups. In fact, many other churches use names like “small groups” or “community groups” or some other term to describe this concept.

So, what is a Life Group?

None of these terms, including “Life Groups”, is found in Scripture. These are man-made terms and organizational structures that we have created in an effort to jump-start the type of “body life” we see both commanded and exemplified in Scripture. Scripture talks a lot about how we are to relate to one another in the body.

We have even attempted to consolidate what Scripture says into our membership covenant at LHBC, but diving into those would make this post much longer than it needs to be. I would encourage you to take the time and look up all those “one-another” passages (and check out our church covenant).

Unfortunately, despite all of these commands and examples that we have in Scripture (which we all probably know very well), we as individuals, couples, and families have, for the most part, failed to match the desire for, commitment to, and depth of Biblical relationships that we see in Scripture.

Consider the following Scriptures:

Romans 12:9–13 [9] Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. [10] Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. [11] Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. [12] Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. [13] Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (ESV)

Paul here is calling us to show true love to one another with brotherly affection. We are challenged to outdo one another in honoring one another. We are reminded that this is part of serving the Lord then again called to meet the needs of our brothers in Christ and to be hospitable.

Colossians 3:12–17 [12] Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, [13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. [14] And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [15] And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. [16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. [17] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (ESV)

Here Paul again is calling us to relate to one another by showing many fruits of the Spirit toward one another. Forgiveness is a big part of this passage as it shows the heart of Christ to one another. We are also called to interact with one another through the word, teaching and admonishing each other, not just the Elders on Sunday. The relationships described here go much deeper than simply talking about the local sports teams or what funny thing our children did this week. It’s a relationship that is intentional about building one another up in Christ through the Word.

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (ESV)

The relationship described here is much more intimate than the common relationship in the church. In fact, it’s so intimate that it can be down-right scary to think about interacting with someone else in the church on this level. Here James tells us that we should have close enough relationships with others in the body of Christ that we are able to share our failures and sin with each other. This is not done in a boastful or even shameful manner, but rather desiring to lift one another up in prayer! I wonder, do you have a fellow believer in the Church that you are that close to?

Do your relationships in the body of Christ look like the ones described in the passages above?

 
Life Groups are not the answer.

Why? Because this is not an organizational problem. We like to blame the modern culture for our busyness and apathy when it comes to living as Scripture calls us to live. However, the real problem is that we simply don’t put commitment to Biblical relationships within the body high enough in our list of priorities.

We all fill the same 24 hours a day with something. Why, with all of our modern conveniences do we find ourselves too busy to gather with the body as a church, as a small group, or even one-on-one? I believe it’s because we simply don’t place the priority on those relationships that Scripture does. No matter what organizational structures we put into place, nothing we plan will fix the underlying issue. We must come to a place in our lives as individuals, couples, and families that these Biblical relationships are more important than the many selfish ways we currently spend our time.

If Life Groups are not the answer, why have them?

That’s a valid question and one that we have wrestled with ourselves. While we certainly can’t force people into modeling the type of relationships we see in Scripture, we can in small ways encourage the process of changing the way we think about relationships in the body of Christ through our Life Group organization in the following ways:

Life Groups are voluntary.

While we desire everyone to be involved and we encourage everyone to be involved and even reach out to those who are not involved to invite them to participate, it is 100% voluntary. Just as you can’t force someone to come to Christ, you can’t force people into a deeper walk with others in their local body. It must be your choice.

Life Groups are relational.

When we look at the commands and examples in Scripture we see a much more intimate, knowledgable way that the early church interacted with one another. Life Groups are designed to help facilitate opportunities for more intimate relationships within our local body. The small nature of these groups provides a less pressured environment for people to be real with one another when it comes to spiritual things. This is not another opportunity for the Elders to teach to a group of people. Rather, our desire is for relationships to be developed as we know and interact with one another.

Life Groups emphasize prayer.

While there are many parts of interacting with one another in the body of Christ, prayer is probably the most necessary and yet the most neglected. We are usually happy to give to a financial need or sign up to provide a meal, but how much time do we spend in prayer for one another. Do you even know what burdens are affecting others within the body that you can pray for? Do you know when God has answered prayer? Life Groups provides an opportunity to bear one another’s burdens, both physically and spiritually through prayer.

Life Groups are just the beginning.

If Life Groups are the only times individuals, couples and families are interacting with one another, then they have failed their purpose. These times together should not be our only outlet for relationships within the body. Instead, we pray that they serve to kindle within each of us a deeper desire to know, love and grow with one another within the body at LHBC. Life Groups are an imperfect tool that we pray will fan the flames of discipleship and edification within the body so that it grows more and more in the days ahead.

Hebrews 10:24–25 [24] And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, [25] not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)

Why should you join a Life Group? Because it’s the fastest way to get started developing relationships with others within the body at LHBC. But don’t stop there! We love hearing about members who are getting together outside life groups for encouragement, prayer and even just enjoying being together. Why? Because that’s part of what God desires for His church.

Understanding Elder Leadership

Last week we looked at the fact that Christ has given his church gifts, in the form of leadership gifts to equip the body so that it functions and grows the way Christ desires and designed.

This morning, in Bible class, we looked at what Scripture says about New Testament leadership and answered some questions that we’ve received about how this is put into action at LHBC. I’ve attached the PDF that we used this morning as a guide to what the New Testament teaches.

LHBC-Biblical-NT-Leadership

Please take the time to read through the PDF to better understand the Biblical reasons for how we have organized the leadership of LHBC. If you have questions, any of the Elders can help you out.

Below are the questions and answers from this morning’s Bible class hour that you may have heard or even had yourself:

Q: Are we going to hire a new Full-Time Pastor?
A: Immediately? No. However, this is something that we will be evaluating over time. Being a paid staff member is not equivalent to being “in charge.” Being a paid Elder simply provides more availability to the church that the other Elders may not have, given their employment. However, the more important question is not will we hire someone, but should we hire someone. Is it Biblical to hire an Elder?

Scripture makes reference to the church supporting an Elder in 1 Timothy 5:7, Galatians 6:6 and 1 Corinthians 9:1-18. Paul even states in 1 Corinthians that he has the right to require support but in some instances chose not to exercise that right. So, is it Biblical to have a “supported” Elder(s)? Yes, however, Scripture seems to indicate that this was something they could excuse if they felt it was the Lord’s will.

We will be evaluating the needs of LHBC going forward to determine if a paid Elder is necessary. If so, most likely one will be chosen from our current Elders, unless the Lord has lead us to bring on another Elder. Again, scripture does not indicate that Elders who receive support are above the others. Regardless of pay, all Elders are equal in role, responsibility, and authority based on Scripture. Pay does not reflect ability, responsibility or authority. It solely reflects availability.

Q: Are we going to fill the empty Elder spot?
A: Scripture does not give us a specific count of elders nor does it give us an Elder to member ratio or any other method for determining the correct number. This is based on the needs of the Church as well as the availability of men worthy to be potential Elders and their desire to take on the responsibility.

Appointing Elders is not a quick process. The requirements laid out in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 indicate that there is a process of observing the lives of the men who would be appointed to Eldership. There are many aspects of these requirements that take months if not years to evaluate properly, which goes against the current process for calling a Pastor in many churches today.

In 1 Timothy 3:22, Paul warns Timothy from being hasty when “laying on hands.” This is a reference to appointing Elders in the Church. This process takes time. While we are always looking out for men who meet these qualifications as potential elders, much of it will depend on the needs of the Church as well. We will not rush into ordaining any new Elders immediately.

Q. Who is going to be the leader now?
A. If any man at LHBC is looked to as the “leader” of the Church, including our current Elders, then we’ve been doing it wrong! Scripture is very clear that Christ alone is the head of the church. The Elders were given to oversee and guide the church under the headship of Christ. Paul made this very clear in 1 Corinthians 1 and 3 that the church is Christ’s, He alone is the head. Ephesians 4 echoes this as well in verse 15 when it states that the leadership gifts given to the church for equipping the saints are to help them grow to become like the head… Christ! Peter also confirms the humility that is required by the Elders in 1 Peter 5 as he lays out the responsibility to shepherd under the “Chief Shepherd.” When we even simply use a title such as “head” or “lead” Pastor/Elder we create the opportunity for weaker Christians (like those in 1 Corinthians) to begin to follow men instead of Christ. That is not our goal and is not in keeping with how Christ built His church in the recorded Scriptures.

Q. How do you guys make decisions with an even number of people? Who is the tie-breaker?
A. Unity among the Elders is a necessary aspect that we find in Scripture. This does not mean that we must always agree. God has gifted each Elder with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives that often provide a more thorough process for evaluating decisions for the church. The Elders at LHBC believe that it is not only best but Biblical that any decision is made unanimously.

Why? God is not the author of confusion, nor does He promote disunity among the church. Each time we meet, we seek the wisdom from above as stated in James 1:5-8. We believe, therefore, that God will give us the wisdom we need to lead the church according to His will. If there is disunity, there are only two options. Either there is sin in the life of one or more Elders, or the Holy Spirit has not made it clear to all Elders that a decision is correct or timely. When there is no unity, there is no decision. We must learn to lead on God’s time frame and not ours.

We find a Biblical precedent in Acts 15:6-35. Here we see a very major decision for the church regarding the need for Gentile converts to follow the law of Moses. It begins by stating that there was much debate. Even in that meeting, there was a debate, different speakers with different perspectives on the decision to be made. However, after discussion was made, we see a clear unity of both the Apostles and the Elders and even the Church at Jerusalem when they make the judgment. There is even an indication of such in verse 25 where it states they were “in one accord.” It seems clear that the decision of the Apostles and Elders was unanimous and provides an excellent example for how decisions for the local church should be handled as well.

Even this process, when followed shows the value of equality, plurality, and unity of Elders in the local church. It also reminds not only the church but the Elders as well that Christ is the head and that we must seek Him to provide clear direction for His church in every decision.