Elders and deacons also fulfill other “traditional” biblical roles and special responsibilities for the church in both structured and unstructured ways, including congregational care, teaching, prayer, church discipline, mediation, theologicial discernment, communion, baptisms and the offering.

Today I came across the annual report that my former church publishes each year.  As I perused the document, this particular paragraph about elders and deacons jumped out at me.  Specifically the words “congregational care,” “church discipline” and “mediation.”

So, knowing there are a couple of people who read my blog who are or have been “elders and deacons” at my former church, I would like to posit a few questions:

1) Though I was never formally told that I was under “church discipline,” wouldn’t the fact that I was tossed out of the church indicate that “church discipline” was taking place?

2) And that being the case, why was no elder or deacon ever involved in communicating with me or my husband – not only when we were tossed out, but during the decade-plus time period during which I was not allowed to participate in any kind of ministry or service in the church – other than attending worship?

3) While there was never a specific reason given for my ostracism, I was ostracized, none-the-less.  Why were no elders or deacons involved in mediation regarding the apparent relational divide that created this judgment and persecution – this “church discipline”?

4) Why is “congregational care” offered to some in the church but not others?  Isn’t being ostracized, punished for unidentified reasons basis enough for us to be offered some “congregational care”?

5) Or are you “elders and deacons” in name only?  Here is the description that comes before the paragraph listed above:

The consistory at ***** Church is the collective group of spiritual leaders who are serving the church body in the formal offices of elder and deacon. Elders and deacons are specialized spiritual leaders that make significant contributions to the care, ministry and strengthening of the church body. God has consistently worked powerfully through the leadership of elders and deacons because of the biblical basis for the roles and because the church grants them formal spiritual authority. While we believe the “priesthood of all believers” is the highest value of ministry participation and leadership, there is something special with the leadership of elders and deacons.

The primary way that elders and deacons serve is through spiritual leadership in ***** Church ministries. Each year every elder and deacon is challenged to lead or serve in a ministry of their choosing or to take a course offered by ***** church. The intent is to release the elder or deacon into a specific ministry role suited for their calling, gifting and experience or for them to expand their spiritual horizons by taking a course.

6) Is it possible that every “elder and deacon” in the church is only leading and serving by participating in a “ministry of their choosing” – which very well could mean that no one has chosen to minister in the areas of “congregational care,” “church discipline,” or “mediation”?  From the above description, it sounds like all you have to do to fulfill the requirements for elder or deacon is to “take a course offered by ***** church.”  And as someone who used to take many classes and even taught a few, I can’t say that even a fraction of the 55 – no, that’s not a misprint, folks, there are fifty-five – elders and deacons participated in classes.

So, question 6) What exactly do you folks do?  Attend weekly meetings?  Count the offering?

i remember there were times when the congregation would be told that if they had questions about the church, they could speak with elders or deacons downstairs in a room near the coffee bar.  My husband and I were at that coffee bar pretty much every Sunday and no elders or deacons ever showed up to answer questions.  A few times, people would come by and ask where you were because they wanted to speak with you.  We couldn’t give them an answer.  So, question

7) Where were you on those Sundays when you were supposed to be available to answer questions?

It seems to me, now that I have that proverbial 20/20 hindsight, that the elders and deacons really benefit no one except those who wear the name tag.  It’s a status symbol.  It somehow conveys to the church that you are someone special.  Not for any particular reason except that you were hand-picked – probably because you don’t question, don’t rock the boat, write nice-sized checks, and have the right last name and live in the right neighborhood.

And nobody really cares until the time comes that they really need some “congregational care.”  Nobody really cares as long as they aren’t the ones being disciplined  spiritually abused.  Nobody really cares until they need a mediator.  Oh, right.  No one is ever going to admit they need a mediator.  Because that would mean admitting that there’s a problem.  And we can’t do that.  Instead, you would have to make that person the problem for pointing out the problem.

Got it.

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Comments
  1. Greetings Sister Ellen,

    Or should I say fellow exile and saint.
    You ask a lot of good questions. More of us sheep should. Let us deal with the criteria of Church discipline.

    It’s base is with Matthew 18:15-17. These are Yeshua’s words:

    15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

    It is a basic 4 step program.

    1) Your accuser (alone) comes to you and asks you to repent or an explanation is given.

    a. Note 1: If your accuser in your case is a male, then your husband should be present if the church respects the bond of Holy matrimony.
    b. Note 2: This step may be skipped or modified also if the victim is one of violence or where safety may be compromised. Or there are two offenders.

    2) You go to the offender with two or three witnesses and see if he will repent.

    3) The offender is called out in front of the congregation and told to repent. At this point, the board of Elders is called into play. They shouldn’t be having any secret tribunals before hand. He is asked to be present for this.

    4) If he doesn’t repent well, he is told to leave and come back when he is ready to humble and take Church Discipline and repent.

    There is a whole lot more, but the basics are clear. You have to know what your “sin” is before the process is to work. You have to know “who” your accusers are. The process was designed by God. Ignoring the process as it appears your “leadership” (tongue in cheek) is an offence in itself against the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. It is both moral and doctrinal Apostasy.

    Other guidance is in 1 Corinthians chapters 6 and 5. And Luke 17:3.

    Without an accuser we are like the woman who was to be stoned by the Pharisees when Jesus asked “where are your accusers?” If a church leader, or (anyone within the church) with rare exception makes accusation without stating the facts in front of the “accused”, it is most likely that the accusation is false or will not bear the scrutiny of the Lord. In short Ellen, the accusers of your husband and you are moral cowards who have not Christ in him or her. A church who has no respect for the clear and plain doctrine as with “Church Discipline” has plain motives that have nothing to do with Godly correction, but probably everything to do with their own pride and protection of “their” ministry or position of themselves and/or someone else.

    That is called among other things as idolatry. It is both moral and doctrinal heresy.

    If your church is a 501C3, check out the rules for membership. There should be a clear statement for removal on the Church By Laws and Constitution with the scripture referenced. This document is the church’s connection with the “world”. They have a “legal” responsibility to adhere to this document. You see the “world” has a higher regard to what you are going through than your church leadership.

    The world calls it malfeasance and nonfeasance when leadership in any organization. The “world” might even call it “moral turpitude” if it went to court.

    Which is what happens when the church ignores scripture and looses their fear of the Lord; It acts worse than the “world” so they can even judge the church organization. Instead of a shining light for the world, they have become salt that looses it’s flavor. It is a sad thing when the “world” recognizes evil and the church can’t see it. But that is another blog series.

    There is a question I asked continuously through my trials to certain members of church leadership. “Who is your Daddy?” Christ’s states to the Pharisees, “Your father is of the devil.” It is a question to ask the congregation to ask leadership involved the same question to leadership. “Who is your Daddy?”

    In short the eldership in your church as well as many in the American Evangelical Church has made the term “Church Leadership” an oxymoron. They have forgotten who loved them first, who is Christ.

    Take care of yourself and your family dear Saint. Bless you.

    Frank
    Sheep and Recovering Pentecostal

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