"The National Representative Search Committee unanimously recommended Mike [Hess] to the Council of Eighteen for consideration. On Feb. 20, 2018, the council met in Chicago to interview Mike. . . . Following that interview, the council voted to formally present Mike to the messengers of GARBC churches in June as they gather in Indianapolis for the annual conference." Full Announcement
One of the perennial challenges that face congregations and the leaders that lead them is the question of how to add individuals to either the elder team or the deacon team. Challenges abound. If congregations are not very careful, they run the risk of leading the church in either one of two directions. The first is a kind of oligarchy where only a select few could ever be elected, even if there is a larger pool of available individuals that could be selected from.
In this first scenario the major concern is not, “Who is biblically qualified?” but rather, “Who will be blindly loyal to the few leaders who have always controlled the congregation?” In this first extreme the leadership of the church has a total “lock-down” control of the church-life.
The second, equally bad, approach is found in churches where the leadership has absolutely no control over the process of electing leaders. In this second extreme, the leadership is under the control of a hyper-congregational “pure democracy.”
In seeking a biblical answer to the extremes, today’s leaders face a challenge in the area of biblical interpretation. There are occasions when the Apostle Paul simply appointed or had one of his apostolic representatives “appoint” elders or leaders (example – Titus 1:5). The question here is, “Is there any sense in which that practice can be adopted by church leaders today?” (Paul was an apostle – we are not!) The answer is yes … and no.
Republished from Voice, Jan/Feb 2018.
One of my favorite pastimes is driving across rural America and looking at old country churches. It pains me when I see those time-worn yet beautiful church buildings being neglected while nature and the elements take over and lead to their eventual ruin. My passion for old church buildings led me to purchase one particular church building in rural Western Nebraska five years ago. The little church had closed a year earlier. My grandfather John Miles had been the last pastor of the church until he passed away at age 92 and the church eventually closed. The building has nostalgic value to me.
Since purchasing the old church building, my wife and I and some talented friends of ours have been restoring it so that it could become our home. This summer we finally completed this five year process of patiently restoring a church building that was in decline and we moved in.
I have a similar passion for restoration when a local body of believers find themselves in a state of decline. It is difficult to see a local church that is in various stages of decaying or dying. I’ve had the tremendous privilege of pastoring in rural settings and being a part of what I like to call “restoration ministry.” I’ve had a front-row seat as I watched God infuse life into His people in these localities.
Kaizen means improvement, or literally, good change. Identified by author Masaaki Imai as “the key to Japanese competitive success,”1 kaizen is the philosophy undergirding continuous improvement at every level of the organization, and involving all personnel. As a philosophy, kaizen is the post-World War II driving force behind the success of a host of Japanese companies, led most notably by Toyota.
Kaizen, as an organizational philosophy, was introduced to Japan through several American post-World War II initiatives designed to help war torn Japan recover and flourish. W. Edwards Deming received an award from the Emperor of Japan for his involvement in developing and implementing kaizen. The W. Edwards Deming Institute remains a significant influence in continuous improvement, including in the promotion of the basic kaizen cycle (PDSA cycle) of plan, do, study, act:
"[I]f partisans endorse the unspoken but clear message 'We’ll always protect the unethical ones on our side,' it guarantees they’ll get more unethical behavior. They’re sending the signal to all aspiring leaders within their movement that they would rather live with bad behavior on their own side than give the other side a 'win.'" . . .