Every Man an Elder: How One Church Seeks to Encourage Male Leadership
“Every man an elder!” is a phrase we like to challenge the men with at East Point Church. It really is no more than what the Bible challenges them with. When one looks at the biblical qualifications for elders and deacons outlined in 1 Timothy and Titus, one sees the qualities to which all Christian men should aspire. In other words, whether holding the office or not, every man should seek to be elder material.
It is from this foundation that we seek to disciple the men that God has entrusted under care at East Point Church. We want to create an environment where men understand what biblical manhood is and can not only see it modeled but also are given opportunities to live it out.
During the early days of East Point Church, as we studied through the book of Philippians, I was struck with how Paul spoke of Epaphroditus. In verse 25 of chapter 2 Paul said, “I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need.”
“Every man should seek to be elder material.”
Paul was in prison and the church at Philippi wanted to care for him by sending him a gift. But someone would need to carry that gift to Paul. And who did the saints chose? Epaphroditus. We don’t hear much else about Epaphroditus after these couple of verses in Philippians, but Paul referred to him as a fellow worker, a soldier with whom he would have no issues fighting in the trenches with. Wow, that is a strong commendation from the Apostle Paul. I can’t help but think back to how it came to be that Epaphoditus was chosen to serve in such an important way. Hearing Paul’s commendation, I am led to believe that Epaphroditus was available, ready, and qualified for the task. The church had a need and they could call on Epahroditus to fill it. That is what we have in mind at East Point Church when we say, “every man an elder!” If the church has a need of faithful men to serve her, then we want to look around and find men that are not only ready and willing to serve but also qualified to do so. Epaphroditus was!
How discouraging and telling it would be for a congregation to have need of faithful elders and deacons but to look around and find none qualified. When East Point Church began, we prayed for a number of things. However, we made it a priority to pray that God would send teachable men, who loved him and his church. God has been faithful in answering that prayer. He has sent teachable men to us. In an effort to steward this gift well, we have sought to use the following means to pour into the men under our care:
Weekly Discipleship Groups | Led by an elder, these groups meet on a weekly basis. They’re a time for prayer, bible study, encouragement, and accountability. These groups are sometimes guided along by a book geared toward Christian living or practical theology. Men need regular check-ins to help fight the pull to isolation and retreat. These groups provide consistent on-going discipleship.
Chop It Up Sessions | These gatherings take place sporadically throughout the year and allow for all the men in the church to get together. This allows for men who are unable to make the weekly disciple groups to get plugged in and fellowship with the brothers. These times are geared around a pressing topic or issue, providing brothers opportunities to sharpen and challenge one another.
Ministry Mornings | These are for men in the church who have a desire to go into pulpit ministry. We get together twice a month to discuss preaching, receive training and encourage one another in the Word. Our vision, by God’s grace, is to identify and train young men who will one day stand before the people of God, faithfully and rightly dividing the Word of truth. Ministry mornings help us practically work out that vision.
Visibility | Someone has once said, “accountability is visibility.” We want to encourage our men to be visible. That does not mean just showing up to the various gatherings of the saints. It includes showing up but even more so we want our men to be seen serving. From Scripture reading, to teaching Sunday School, to leading worship, to giving time and energies to VBS, we want men to step up to the plate, leading the way in serving at the church. If there is a need at the church, men should be the first to raise their hand to fill it.
These are just a few of the ways East Point Church seeks to steward the gift of teachable men God has graced our congregation with. We are not perfect with our approach but this is our attempt at being faithful. As with all things, we approach the discipleship of men prayerfully, intentionally, and trusting the Lord to produce fruit. I’m praying that he would be pleased to raise up men from this congregation and others who desire to serve his bride