This is a post by our friend Ewald van Schalkwyk
Learnings about Eldership.
We recently spent some time selecting a new eldership team for our faith community. In a conversation on our way to a hike, Tom Smith mentioned a book by J.R. Brigg and Bob Hyatt: Eldership and the Mission of God. I found their book both insightful and inspiring. Here is what I found helpful:
I had a new awareness of the importance of healthy structure and leadership for a faith community. A lot of my time in ministry I spend thinking, praying and planning about relationships, gatherings and content for different teachings contexts. I realized I need to spend more time thinking and creatively planning for leadership, specifically eldership. Elders play a huge role in the culture, mission, direction and philosophy of the community. As we spent some time with our new eldership team, one of the elders made the comment: “So eldership is actually a big deal.”
I was challenged to look at how we select elders, the qualifications of an elder and the roles and functions of an elder through the lens of the mission of God. (Missio Dei) To use the writers words: to “explore eldership through a missiological lens.”
After some discussion with my team leader and our newly selected eldership team we came to the the following conclusion: Eldership is not only what you do, but who you are. What we do as elders will flow from who you are.
As a team we spent some time to look at the role and responsibilities of an elder listed in scripture and discussed in Eldership and the Mission of God, and then asked the question: In light of:
· who God made you (your passion, gifts, abilities),
· the needs and opportunities in our faith community,
· of your current season of life,
· of the context we minister in (our country, our city, our faith community),
…in light of all these things, what will our role as elders look like?
The book also includes very practical discussion questions for each chapter which can be very helpful to move any team creatively forward.
Ewald is married to Alida. They have two children: Emke and Jan-Willem. They live, work and play in Bellville, Cape Town – an area that is richly diverse in culture and activity.