It all started with a conversation I had with my friend and co-pastor Dustin Bagby.
As we pondered adding new elders to our team, he was researching resources for eldership in the missional church setting. There’s been a decent amount written on eldership- but mostly in traditional church and denominational contexts. None seemed of much help for a smaller start-up like Evergreen.
“There really needs to be a better resource on this,” he said.
A few months later I was at a Church Planters Boot Camp, thinking about just such issues and was talking with another friend, J.R. Briggs. He’s a fantastic leader and coach of other church planters, and during the conversation I asked him if he, like me, ever had church planters or pastors ask questions regarding developing people in eldership and elder teams. Yes, he said. Quite regularly, in fact.
I then asked if he knew of any resources specifically for church planters and missional pastors on eldership.
Hmmm…. We both thought for a few minutes and came up empty. As we both reflected on our own experience in planting: other than the New Testament text, we had little direction, guidance or practical help in developing, recruiting, equipping and installing elders – nor did we know where to go to find any resources on the topic for our context in particular.
The New Testament is clear on some things, but not on others. What do elders do exactly – not in theory but in practice? How do we pick them when we start out? How do elders make decisions for and more importantly with the Church? How do they interact with the body of the church? How often should churches hold elder meetings and how exactly should you spend your time in these meetings? How do we build a sense of community and team amongst a board and avoid adversarial relationships? Can elder meetings actually be full of joy, hope and anticipation? And how many of these answers are set in stone and how many of them are deeply dependent upon the context, size and personality of the local church God has created?
J.R. has written some great books and I had a sense that we would work well together on something like this. As we both have been blessed with great elders in the process of our church plants and have both content and experiences to share with others, I felt a co-writing venture would be a good fit. Later that week, J.R. and I sat in the garden of the retreat center we were at for an entire afternoon and developed a significant outline of ideas of what a project like this might look like.
We were on our way. We put together a proposal and took it to J.R.’s literary agent. He began shopping the proposal around and were excited to land at InterVarsity Press .
Tentatively, this project is called Eldership in a Missional Church (though the title quite possibly could change somewhere in the process). Though it is a niche book (to say the least), it is something that is needed by many pastors and church planters – either in new church contexts or those trying to ‘right the ship’ when it comes to healthy leadership structures in their churches.
I’m excited and hopeful at signing my first publishing contract. I feel like after a history of blogging too much and then not enough, and a season of really contemplating the “whys” of public writing and speaking, I’m back in a place where I have some good things to say, and want to say them for the right reasons.
This is going to be an interesting year (and by interesting I mean “insane”). The book manuscript is due early September, which seems like a ways off, but I’m currently in the middle of a Doctoral program at George Fox and need to get started on Dissertation this year as well.
Me and my computer are really going to deepen our relationship this year, I think. Hopefully, through this project, God will deepen in me my love for His church, His people and others who have given their lives leading and serving both.