What is an elder? How to deal with delinquents, spiritual attacks and MORE — Lutheran men consider this event!

There is a great opportunity to learn from one of our Synod’s best pastors.  Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church (St. Paul, MN), St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church (Bertha, MN), and St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church (Lakefield, MN) are sponsoring an “Elder’s Retreat” (Jan 25-26, 2013) at Concordia – St. Paul once again with a great speaker (past speakers include Rev. Dr. Harold Senkbeil and now President Harrison).  This year Pr. Peter Bender of Peace Lutheran in Sussex Wisconsin will be teaching about elders and the ministry.  As a vicar I attended one of these (the one taught by Dr. Senkbeil) and can say that it has been very valuable to me as a pastor.  I also had elders attend the retreat a few years ago with Pres. Harrison, and they also benefited greatly from it.  This year with Pr. Bender teaching, it promises to be just as good as years past, and if I was closer to St. Paul I would be trying to attend.

Bethlehem Lutheran is a confessional Lutheran church in St. Paul, MN who has a faithful outreach to Hmong immigrants and is also host to JOY Academy, a classical education based Lutheran school in downtown St. Paul.  It’s pastor is Rev. Nathan Raddatz is a classmate of mine and also a regular commenter here at BJS.  St. Paul Lutheran in Bertha is a confessional congregation in the MN North District and is served by Rev. Blake Rickbeil, a leader in the Minnesota North Confessional Lutherans, an outstanding group of clergy and laity who gather to study the Word and Confessions.  St. Paul Lutheran in Lakefield is another confessional congregation who is served by Rev. Stephen Weiss, a faithful pastor I met in sessions of Doxology.  With sponsors like this, the Elder’s retreat is a wonderful opportunity for those who are able to attend.

From the promotional material for the retreat:

The topics to be covered during the Retreat:

“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…” Elders in support of the Holy Ministry!
1) Men of the Word: the Elder’s Calling
2) Withering Members: Ministering to Delinquents
3) Spiritual Warfare and Attacks Upon the Ministry
4) Brotherly Conversation, the Confessional Seal, and the Eighth Commandment
5) Contemporary Challenges: Homosexuality, Same-sex unions, and more
6) Engaged in Our Communities for the Sake of Christ

For more information go to the retreat website.  You can register there and also find hotel accommodations there as well as get the phone number to ask any further questions.

If you are in the region, you will want to consider attending this retreat, for the good of your elders, congregations, pastors, and ultimately the Church as a whole.

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.

Comments

What is an elder? How to deal with delinquents, spiritual attacks and MORE — Lutheran men consider this event! — 15 Comments

  1. Pastor Scheer,
    This is a great article, but I don’t understand the need.

    Why, does there have to be a retreat, when the holder of the Office, the Circuit or District, know full well, what an elder is?

    This is Scripture, Doctrine, Constitution & Bylaw, per Congregation, is not?

    I will never, I think, understand, why the office of Elder is so misunderstood. In Scripture & Luther, it’s so very plain. In Doctrine, is so very plain. Why are so many, having so many retreats, for things, that LCMS & WELS have on the books, teach & preach? Or vote on, from the smallest to the greatest? Why?

    Or don’t Congregations, Constitutions & Bylaws, no longer taught at Sem, to be upheld? Our Solas & Doctrines are not, so why would these?

    What a sad day & state of affairs. Those who attend, are not the ones that should, nor are the Pastors, who encourage it. What has happened to the Lutheran Faith in the US?!

  2. @Dutch #1
    Dutch, it should be evident what elders are given to do in their congregation – but then again, different congregations have different roles for their elders (although most I have seen give similar roles to them).

    Here are some possible needs and benefits to such a retreat:

    Sometimes it is very beneficial to hear the same things your pastor says from another pastor. Let’s face it, the church is filled with guys who want to teach their own things, and laity ought to be a little leery of it, so these things can help confirm solid teaching which I have no doubt is already going on at least among the sponsoring congregations.

    Sometimes these retreats are a great time away for the pastors and elders together. They can share a beer (or cigar, or pop, or whatever each can handle) together and meet other Lutherans who care about being Lutheran in a world gone mad. It can be very encouraging.

    There is great benefit in these retreats in that the Church really does become more of a big “C” Church – that is larger than one congregation. That is very helpful for elders to understand, especially since a lot of the work of elders sends ripples elsewhere (as they deal with discipline, delinquency, transfers, and so forth). Their work is vital in the big “C” Church. It is good for them to get together with folks from other congregations.

    In this case – another benefit is sitting at the feet of Pr. Bender (don’t worry they have chairs and tables at CSP) and learning from him on whatever he wants to teach. My first one of these retreats was one with Dr. Senkbeil who gave a knock down, drag-out awesome presentation on being Lutheran in this present age (21st Century Early Christianity is I think what he called it)…. If we would just be Lutherans… we have the stuff for this time, if we would just be who God has made us to be.

    Hope that helps.

  3. Pastor Scheer,
    Yep it helped explain why we have to do it, now…

    What you said at the end, is why I will never get this…
    “If we would just be Lutherans…we have the stuff for this time, if we would just be who God has made us to be.”

    It was for all times, ages past, present, & future, was it not?
    Our God Our Help in Ages Past.
    Why, do we who remember, revere, trust, love, respect & fear, have to have any of these?
    Synods exist for a reason, Circuits exist for a reason, Districts & Offices exist for a reason, why is it, those who haven’t forgotten need to meet apart, but those who hold such, refuse to uphold, enact, or defend, any of it?

    If they don’t on a Congregational level, District, Circuit, or Synodical level, teach what elders entail, delinquency, derelict, unrepentant sinners, or the basic duties of an elder, which Scripture Itself, holds to high account & high responsibility, if our own Denom’s won’t, why attend? Those who need to know, will not nor do they see a need to know, let alone attend.

    Why?!

  4. @Dutch #3
    Why, do we who remember, revere, trust, love, respect & fear, have to have any of these?
    Synods exist for a reason, Circuits exist for a reason, Districts & Offices exist for a reason, why is it, those who haven’t forgotten need to meet apart, but those who hold such, refuse to uphold, enact, or defend, any of it?

    Dutch, there is too much “shorthand” here. I don’t understand what you are saying.

    A “retreat” for concentrated study for pastors and laity… how is that a bad thing?

    Think of it like a family reunion. You can be an extended family without family reunions from time to time, but experience has proved that you grow apart in many ways.

    In Austin, we have a seminary professor visit each summer to teach a topic in his field. Laity used to be rare at these but in recent years they have also been welcome and more of them have attended. It’s good not only for the lectures and the services (matins and vespers) but also for the getting acquainted/renewing ties over lunch, dinner, or a beverage (Lutheran or soda pop) in the evening.

    [I should say that these are very “low budget” occasions. Perhaps that doesn’t seem glamorous enough for some. But the core of it is the professor led discussion which is usually very good.]

  5. Helen,
    Paul laid the lines & requirements. Anyone, endevoring or approached to throw their name in the hat, of election for elder, should be taught, the Word by Paul, and the great responsibility they would bear.

    That, is by their Shepherd/Pastor. Not by laity, but the Shepherd of that pen. Warm bodies, can do great harm & damage. My words & posts are not shorthand, they are open ended questions.
    I know why, so do you, so do we all at BJS.

    Shepherds & Pastors are to lead, teach, & train in the way those in their charge should go.

    This is about Sola Scriptura & Concordia, not about anything else, let alone less. Helen, if what Paul laid out, is still true, why is there any need? If Sem students are taught, as laity is & Confirmands are, why the need?

  6. Pastor Scheer,
    You are assuming I’ve heard the same, for the last 2 decades.
    No, I have not. That was dealt & done by far above my vocation, state, or position, yet I am asked to trust w/o testing,…now.
    I don’t, I was not taught to do that. I do, it’s why BJS came to be, in the first place, was it not?

  7. The widespread custom of calling those who no longer attend church “delinquents” has bothered me for many years. I suppose I date myself when I say this, but the word immediately brings to mind “juvenile delinquent.” To me it sounds uncharitable and judgmental. There are so many circumstances which account for people no longer attending church, and you never know the reason until you speak with the person: severe depression, the need to care for a sick or elderly person 24/7, etc.etc. Why not speak of such people as “lapsed” or some other word which does not sound so harsh? I think of our Lord’s parable of the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to find the sheep who has strayed. There is surely nothing of “delinquency” in that parable, only seeking love. I wonder too about the use of the term “elder” for laymen who help the pastor in his work. The term comes from Presbyterianism which teaches that “teaching elders”(pastors) and “ruling elders”(lay assistants) belong to the divine constitution of the church. In the New Testament the presbyteroi (often translated “elders”) are the incumbents of the pastoral office. Using the term “elder” only confuses the laity as they then can get the false impression that the “elders” mentioned in the New Testament are some kind of lay assistants rather than incumbents of the pastoral office. I am reliably informed that this Reformed terminology invaded our church during the process of becoming an English-speaking church. A better term is “deacon.”

  8. Some lay elder handbooks have suggested using the term inactive rather than delinquent.

    I think the word delinquent came from members being delinquent in their contributions to the church. Fritz’ book on church finances even referred to member offerings as dues.

    I don’t have a problem with using the word “elder”. My congregation members all know that New Testament elders are pastors. Lay elders are more like Old Testament elders. You should read the study on lay elders written by Dr. Colver in the January 2006 Concordia Journal, which was also referenced at the MO District elders workshop two years ago. http://www.csl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/January-2006.pdf

  9. Call me naive, or ignorant, if ya will, but…
    Laity assumes, the definitions & duties & the execution of those duties, held by laity, Congregational Council, Elder, Head of any Board, etc, is taught before a Holder of the Office, gets to the Congregation who called them. Is that correct to say?

    If that called Shepherd, doesn’t know or “interprets” what he was taught, thus brings that all into a Congregation, & should that Constitution be deemed, based on the knowledge or rather the lack of, “constricting”, that paper ceases to be worth the paper it is written on, does it not?

    Elders, as I watched & was taught, are not the pocket men, they are the guardians of a Congregation. The under, under, gate keepers, per say.

    I thought Paul was rather specific, on both counts. Our Foundations, are rather specific on both counts, the boundries were set, by better than we.

    The men who will attend these, are not those, who should be attending. This should be a Synodical symposium, to remind all those who do, hold the Office, what their laity positions are & more importantly are not, & those who qualify & those who do not or should not.

    Saying yes is far too easy, agape, is loving enough to say no, we do it as parents, so much should those above that station & vocation, when it comes to His House, large or small, shouldn’t it?

  10. Tim,
    I’ve belonged to one or two clubs, in my lifetime, I paid “dues” there.

    I tithe, according to Malachi 3:8-11. My Congregation or anyone’s Congregation, is not a club & I am not a member, in that respect. I was taught that, w/my 1st paycheck, when I was 15. SSI, etc, & the 1st 10% ya bring in the barn. Elders have nothing to do with that, that is the Congregation’s Council, not Elders! Elders are the backstop, for the theological safety of that flock.

    That is my & your, Father’s House, the One bought & paid for by the Lion of Judah, His Bride. I’m not afraid of those verses, & this has little & next to nothing about the pittance put in a plate. $$ have no place w/this.

    This is a more vital issue, than tithes. This is the underheadship, of His House.
    Paul laid the lines, not us, nor anyone else, His Word did. Let’s just stick to that.

  11. Dutch, I was explaining where the word delinquent may have originated because it was brought up by Pr. McClean. I really can’t decipher what you are saying in much of your post.

  12. @Dutch #5
    Anyone, endevoring or approached to throw their name in the hat, of election for elder, should be taught, the Word by Paul, and the great responsibility they would bear.

    That, is by their Shepherd/Pastor. Not by laity, but the Shepherd of that pen.

    Sometimes the Shepherd/Pastor needs a refresher course.
    Sometimes he needs the back up of seminary professors and theologians, to prove to his elders that he is teaching Lutheranism and not some idea of his own.

    If this retreat were going to be entertained by non Lutheran [females] claiming church leadership in some sectarian denomination, (as has happened in Texas) I would be yelling about it.

    But if there is someone presenting at this retreat who is not an ordained Pastor in our LCMS Lutheran church, (I include the expert teachers from the seminary, as I know some do not), I have missed the name. I’m glad this is being held in Minnesota! I suspect it’s done for the Lutherans there, in the absence of genuinely Lutheran doctrine in the “official” sessions of those districts! [That’s sad but all the genuine Lutherans can do is “do it yourself” until the regime changes.)

    I must repeat, Dutch: “What is your belly ache?”

    P.S. If your kid skips school regularly, he’s going to be termed a “delinquent.”
    If you make a habit of not paying your bills, you will be called “delinquent”.
    A person who claims to be a church member, but is not often present, and does not tell his Pastor or elder why he’s absent, is “delinquent” and nobody should complain about “harshness”.

    [Likewise, an elder who lets an absence run on for months, without inquiring what the problem might be, is “delinquent” in his duty, [in my book, at least.]

  13. I encourage readers to take the time to also read this article by Dr. Albert Collver:

    Lay Elders: A Brief Overview of Their Origin in the Missouri Synod
    Implications for Elders Today
    Albert Collver
    http://www.messiahlacrescent.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/CJ-Jan-2006-Elders.pdf

    It provides some important material that was also unfortunately not included in the recent book from CPH on this topic.

    While there is some disagreement among confessional Lutherans on the nature of the diaconate, I would encourage consideration of an early church model for the diaconate in our day.
    http://www.gloriachristi.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/reclaiminganearlychurchparishdiaconateforlutheranstodayfrahm.pdf

  14. Pr. John A. Frahm :I encourage readers to take the time to also read this article by Dr. Albert Collver:
    Lay Elders: A Brief Overview of Their Origin in the Missouri SynodImplications for Elders TodayAlbert Collverhttp://www.messiahlacrescent.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/CJ-Jan-2006-Elders.pdf
    It provides some important material that was also unfortunately not included in the recent book from CPH on this topic.

    That’s the same article I posted earlier today above. What’s the recent book from CPH on this topic? My board of elders is studying the Pastors and Elders book and DVDs by Pr. Tim Mech, which is more of how pastors and lay elders should get along, not really how to be an elder. We’ve also used The Caring Elder by Pr. Constien (CPH) and Shepherd’s Assistants by Pr. Clement (NPH).

    Pr. Rossow was once interviewed on Issues, Etc. regarding lay elders and had mentioned a possible book about the subject. Still hoping to see that one.

  15. My name is Kevin L. Broehm and my wife and I attend Shepherd Lutheran Church n Albuquerque, NM. Just moved here from Menomonee Falls, WI (about 13 miles northwest of Milwaukee, WI) this past June 2016. At our church in Albuquerque this past month(December 2016) we held an election of our church officiers for the new year of 2017. My name came up for being an Elder for Shepherd Lutheran Church. I was voted and thus, I been elected to the forementioned position of Elder. I guess my question I like to address if anyone reading my comment is this: How do you being in the discharging of duties as an Elder. I know that from what my pastor has told me is that I will greatly assist him in his duties as pastor. My humble prayers to the Lord have been answered in that respect, but I was wondering is there more to being an Elder then just assisting my pastor. Do I work with my fellow Elders? What else should I be addressing my Savior in humbling carry out this position of Elder that I take a serious look with my assistance of my Lord guiding me. Is there any experienced Elders or pastors out there that could reply to my comment. I just what to clarify that Im doing my Eldership out of the very GREAT LOVE our Savior show me in dying for ALL SIN and NOT as a good work, I hope that all who read my comment will not construe my intentions on serving as a Elder. I just have a great love in serving my Lord as He served me first by dying for me and not only for me, but for the entire world (John 3:16) In Christ service to you my brothers in the Lord

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