11 June 2007

On Elders

Schmemann has a great piece in *Church, World, and Mission* (I think!) on the conciliar nature of the Church. He points out that this was originally manifested in that the local bishop had gathered around him his council, his presbyters. When the task of presiding over the Eucharist was given over to presbyters as the normal way of things, it was inevitable, Schmemann argues, given the nature of the Church, that a council would arise around him. He can't and shouldn't do his work alone. I think Schmemann is correct. Hence the "elders" in the Missouri Synod.

I have to tell you openly and honestly: I love my elders. They are not "yes" men or "no" men. They take time to think over what I propose. At times they tell me: "You're off your rocker." At times they say: "go for it." But I know this: I would never act without hearing them out. Even if I end up disagreeing with their consensus (which honestly has never happened), I would be a fool of the first order not to consider prayerfully whatever insights they offer me. They are the living embodiment of Proverbs 15:22, "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed."

I pray for this group of men each day, and I know they pray for me. The pastor without his council of elders would be a rather sorry sight. I shudder to think of my own ministry had I not had the collective wisdom of their words and insights.

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