To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
1 Peter 5:1 – 4
What a joy it is to serve as elders in our fellowship of churches and witness the great works that God is doing among us. This makes our work exciting and makes each of us very willing to serve in our churches. We are very encouraged by our growth and progress since the International Leadership Conference in Denver and look forward to an exciting year together in 2010!
In order to stay focused and work closely together, the Shepherds Service Team meets monthly via conference call. These calls have been unifying to our group over the past two years and have had a unifying impact in our churches as well. In the past six months these meetings were augmented by a gathering we had in Denver and most recently we met together in Miami. These face-to-face meetings are important and provide a relationship-building environment among our churches.
In May of last year Walter and Kim Evans were added to our team and in December we added our first international elder, Israel Ereola. This begins to fulfill a goal of having worldwide representation of elders on our team. Israel and his wife, Abigail, serve the church in Lagos, Nigeria. It is encouraging to see elders being appointed in many cities for God to provide more international elders as a part of our service team. Recently, elders were appointed in two of our larger churches in the United States. The church in Seattle and the Northern Virginia church now have elderships shepherding the flock. This brings the number of churches with an eldership to thirty-six and the number of elders serving in those churches totaling over 130! In addition, there are about three or four more churches that are currently working with future elder candidates to appoint an eldership in the coming months. That is tremendous growth over the past few years but still represents less than ten percent of our churches at this level of maturity.
One of our original goals was to be a group of brothers who build relationships and ongoing communication between elders and churches cooperating together in mission and brotherhood. In our efforts to work in this area to accomplish this goal, we have met with many different churches and elderships to promote unity and the cooperation of churches throughout the world. The team has provided the safe environment to deeply discuss these sensitive areas and as a result many more churches have declared their intent to work together in a family of churches to the glory of God. We also continue to engage in conflict resolution on a requested basis and have seen increasing humility and openness toward outside assistance to bring about less emotion and more maturity in difficult situations within and between churches.
Since our report last summer, we are very enthusiastic about the deepening unity between Evangelists and Elders both in our churches and among these groups worldwide. In February, the Evangelists Service Team and the Elders Service Team met together to develop plans, pray and share our hearts together. We fully support the principle of a collaborative process between these groups. We further desire to develop the biblical leadership gifts of Evangelist, Elder and Teacher in guiding church building practices vital to the spiritual well-being of our individual churches and brotherhood.
Shepherds Service Team
Al Baird – Los Angeles
Bill Hooper — Dallas
Israel Ereola — Lagos
Jeff Balsom – Chicago
John Brush – South Florida
Ron Brumley – Seattle
Sam Laing — Atlanta
Walter Evans – Philadelphia
Wyndham Shaw, Chairman – Boston