Welcome to the July/August issue of Equip for Ministry. We believe this issue contains helpful articles, reviews, tips, and news items that will inform and encourage you in your local church’s ministry. I have asked Dick Aeschliman to develop the lead article which highlights some excellent thoughts of the late Dr. Donald J. MacNair in The Practices of a Healthy Church. Dick is CE&P’s Resource Coordinator and a trainer and consultant to local church leaders. He has been working with us in training elders and deacons for a number of years and is sensitive to the challenges and opportunities that God has set before those leaders.
The chapters selected from MacNair’s book demonstrate the tendency, especially among elders, of falling into one of two extremes: “lording over the people,” or being so laid back the church lacks direction, mobilization, and coordination. Finding the right balance for the leadership needed by a particular church at a particular time is not always easy. Our experience over the years is that effective leaders need the right attitude about their role but they also need training. This is consistent with Paul’s instruction in the book of Ephesians.
Having the right tools for training and knowing how to use them effectively requires much prayer and commitment. Regular check-ups of our leadership skills are a must if we are to be effective “under shepherds.” We need to be sound in the faith but we also need to understand people in order to come along side, encourage, and care for them. It is much easier to follow trusted, respected, and competent leaders. The best way to build that trust relationship between leaders and followers is for the followers to know that the church leaders genuinely care for them.
We hope that the summary of these chapters will challenge you to study MacNair’s book, and that those who do not hold a leadership position at this time will be challenged to pray for and encourage your church leaders. I have found that congregations who regularly uphold their leadership in prayer rarely come to cross-purposes with them. The mutual commitment of leaders and followers is necessary for the church to minister strategically and effectively.
The Equip Tip by CE&P Regional Trainer Susan Spradlin regarding an effective classroom learning environment will be particularly valuable for teachers of children. Susan’s experience as a teacher, trainer, and consultant comes through clearly in this helpful Tip.
“In Case You’re Asked” deals with a topic that we hope has not noticeably infiltrated the PCA. “Open theism,” present in some evangelical circles, is causing confusion and discussion. It was a “hot topic” at the annual Evangelical Theological Society meeting last fall. We need to be aware of what it is and how to respond if the opportunity presents itself.
The five books featured in the review section were carefully chosen, as usual, to encourage your reading in several different directions and levels. A Family of Faith will take you through some important topics as they relate to evangelicalism. The Connection Gap will encourage you to think more intentionally about relationships, an important topic for ministry in today’s fragmented culture. The Communion of Saints is also connected with the importance of believers in their interdependent relationships in the church. Finding the Will of God is a topic that has concerned Christians from the beginning. This book will be extremely helpful to those who take the time to read it. The Pocket Dictionary is a helpful resource tool for teachers and students.
We have also highlighted some of CE&P’s activities during the spring months. These are for your information as well as items for prayer. The ministry of Christian Education and Publications is totally dependent on the churches and individuals that God raises up to support this ministry, financially and with prayer. We are increasingly aware that “it is not by might nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord of hosts,” (Zechariah 4:6). Equip for Ministry is one of our main resources for communicating with individuals and churches. If you would like an extra copy for a friend please let us know. You can also visit our website, (www.pcanet.org/cep) and link to our Bookstore, Video Library, and other helpful resources.