Bass Guitar – Who Would Have Guessed?
During my first lead pastor season beginning in 2005, my wife, Rachel, joined me in doing anything and everything that we believed the Lord pointed us to do in the church. We cleaned, painted, and decorated the entire church. Rachel served in nearly any ministry we had needs. There was one season that our worship leader, following the Lord’s direction, took a position at another church. For some reason, we were finding it challenging to find his replacement. With the right heart (but maybe limited thought), I bought a guitar and began taking lessons. Rachel asked me what I was up to, and I explained that I would learn what I needed to learn in order to step in as the music leader for a season until we found our new person. When I said it out loud, we both had a good laugh. She stepped up and volunteered to take the lessons, learn what she needed to learn, so I could stay focused on preaching, praying and leading. Soon after that step of faith, the Lord brought us our new worship leader. That leader encouraged Rachel to learn bass guitar as we had no one in the church who played bass. I love my wife’s heart. She did what He asked, and she learned the bass guitar. Then, everything changed! The Lord lit her up, and she was on fire worshiping and serving the Lord. Watching Rachel play bass and knowing her love to serve her Lord, doing what she loves, nearly tears me up every time she leads me in worship.
A lesson I learned from Rachel was that people will faithfully serve in Jesus’ church, yet when they discover that they can do what they love most for the One they love the most, everything changes. I have found this to be true also of our elder board at Good Shepherd. There are thirteen of us elders. The term elder doesn’t mean older in age, rather it is a term the apostle Paul used to describe the New Testament governing board for Christian churches. The book of Acts appears to indicate that Paul’s normal practice was to appoint elders to lead the churches: “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed (Acts 14:23).
We believe the New Testament teaches that there is to be a plurality of elders in leadership. This means that a church is not to have only one man with ultimate authority. Instead, a church is to have “shared leadership.” As Alexander Strauch writes, “By definition, the elder structure of government is a collective form of leadership in which each elder shares equally the position, authority, and responsibility of the office” (Strauch, Biblical Eldership, 39). Shared leadership has the benefits of balancing people’s weaknesses and providing accountability. Serving alongside the Good Shepherd elders has been one of my greatest joys thus far. Some of these men have attended Good Shepherd from the very beginning, and most of them have more than thirty years of Good Shepherd history. They have taught me about our church’s history, its mission and values. They worked hard before I came to outline the direction they desired for our church. These men are qualified, pursuant to 1 Timothy chapter 3, and they treat one another with the greatest respect and honor. Over the next few weeks, we will be inviting the church to share a name of a person who you believe may be qualified to serve as an elder. Upon receiving the names, the elders will discuss the names and qualifications, praying the Lord would guide us.
One of the areas the elders have done a fantastic job is overseeing our financial budget. For months, the elders evaluated the numbers, trends and prayed for faith. At the end of our last fiscal year (ending June 30), the total giving was $4.6M. After diligent prayer and discussion, we added a 4% faith component to our budget. Over the first six months, God has guided our people toward generosity. Our offerings are only $66,000 below budget. That is incredible, in light of the special offerings for Relief and Family Center are in excess of $250,000 on top of the general offering. While that is good news, it is also a request for much prayer. Typically, our year-end giving is even stronger than it was for this year, and it is needed because traditionally the next six months are far weaker in giving. So that strong year-end giving makes up for the shortfall that usually comes January through June. Would you join me in prayer that this 2019 will be unusual and different from our normal giving patterns? Would you pray with me that our giving and generosity will be just as strong as it was in the first six months?
While we maintain our faith, we also would like you to know that our staff has done a wonderful job in financial stewardship. We are more than $200,000 less in expenses than budgeted, and we have taken action to not spend another $330,000 for vision-related budget items. These steps are taken to be good stewards of the Lord’s resources. We are thankful for whatever the Lord provides. It is my hope that you appreciate this transparency and candidness. If you faithfully give to the church and have more questions, feel free to contact us, and we would be happy to answer your questions. We want to lead in such a manner that you have trust that we love the Lord and are following the Lord’s direction as best as we understand it. Please pray to ask the Lord – just as Paul directed us to – what might He have you do to financially partner with His church.
Last week we shared our heart for a broadened and deepened culture of prayer. One way we are taking steps to see that come to pass is a new resource for prayer discipleship. Our staff gathers for prayer every Thursday at 10am (if you are ever interested in joining us, please know that you are invited.) This Thursday, we have begun to video a 10 minute or less prayer discipleship devotion to share with you. So, if you would like to join us in deepening your prayer life, I’d like for you to watch.
Use this link to watch and learn and then join us in prayer.