AT A GLANCE
Servant Leaders-First Among Equals by Dan Leischner
Youth Ministry: A Peek Behind The Curtain by Pastor Neal Thorne
The Joy of Shepherding by Jeff Hartwell
Suubi Medical Clinic by Brandon Chase
Servant Leaders-First Among Equals
by Dan Leischner, Elder Chairman
The traditional view of leadership we see in the world is a hierarchal, top-down, command-and-control type of relationship between leaders and followers, bosses and employees, and masters and slaves. This approach can be very effective in getting things done, but it comes at a cost. Too often, worldly leaders use their power for their own selfish desires. We see many political leaders, business leaders, and social leaders who try to accomplish their own personal agenda at the expense of the people they lead. Is it any wonder so many people have lost confidence in our leaders?
But Jesus shows us a picture of leadership that is very different from this worldly view. In his gospel, Matthew recounts the story of when the mother of the two disciples James and John (the sons of Zebedee) comes to Jesus to ask that her sons be allowed to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus–the places of greatest honor. The other disciples were indignant that these two men would have the audacity to ask for such special treatment. But Jesus used this moment to teach His disciples about leadership in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew records in 20:25-28:
“But Jesus called them [His Disciples] to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’”
Jesus has the authority to rule and reign as God. In the gospels, we see that Jesus has the power of creation and that all things were made through Him (John 1:3); He has power over sin and death, and He is seated at the right hand of God the Father (Eph. 1:20). In Jesus, “all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form . . . and He is the head over all rule and authority” (Col. 2:9,10). But Jesus, that is God in bodily form, came to serve. He never used His power to do anything except what God the Father told Him to do (John 5:19). Jesus used His power and His authority to serve God and to humble Himself to death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:8). This is the picture of leadership in God’s economy–a person who will selflessly serve others for the sake of God. If we are to be leaders like Jesus, then we need to serve those whom we lead. This is true for each one of us as we have all been given roles of leadership and influence in our lives–in our jobs, in our schools, in our homes, in our communities and in our church.
FIRST AMONG EQUALS
Looking at the 12 disciples, we see that Jesus established some as leaders of leaders. In his book, Biblical Eldership, Alexander Strauch discusses the concept of “First Among Equals.” He writes that, “Jesus chose the twelve apostles, all of whom He empowered to preach and heal, but He singled out three for special attention–Peter, James, and John (“first one among equals”). Among the three, as well as among the Twelve, Peter stood as the most prominent (“first among equals”).”* Peter, James and John were seen as pillars of the early church (Gal. 2:9), but they were not given special or extra authority; they used their gifts to lead and serve the rest of the Apostles. In the Book of Acts we see Peter serving as the natural leader of the Apostles and the early church. Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, used the gifts and talents God gave him to provide headship and guidance for the Church, taking action and preaching boldly. However, ultimate authority of the church was never given to one man, not even to Peter. In fact, when the Apostle Paul confronts Peter over a doctrinal issue in Acts 15, the apostles and elders came together to look into the matter. After there had been much debate, Peter then stood up to announce the decision that had been made by the group. Peter, the leader of the apostles and the leader of the church, exercised his authority as a “first among equals” rather than as the sole decision maker.
This concept of first among equals has importance for all leaders, for husband and wives, and for elders of the church. For all leaders: we are not greater than those whom we lead. If we are given a position of responsibility and authority, we are to walk humbly and recognize our equality with all people. For husbands and wives: although God has given the husband the role of headship in the home (and therefore God will hold the husband accountable), man is not superior to woman–both are made in God’s image and are equal in God’s eyes (Gen 1:27 & Gal. 3:28). As leaders of the church, elders are a team of equals (that is, equal to each other, and equal with all men before God). Among the elders there are some who take on unique roles such as the Chair and vice-Chair, Secretary, and Senior Pastor (that is, the elder assigned to devote themselves full-time to teaching the congregation and leading the staff). Some elders exercise their gifts through prayer, through administration, through encouragement, and through caring for those in need. In all of these roles, we each exercise our authority as one member of a team of equals–the same structure that Jesus laid out for His disciples when He was on the earth.
This idea of first among equals also has importance for all of us believers. Jesus has called all of His followers to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Jesus did not tell only the missionaries to go, or only the pastors to go, or only the paid staff to go, or only the elders to go–He has told all of us to go. Even though some people have been given the role to serve and equip the Body of Christ, all of us who follow Jesus are commanded to carry out His work, as equals.
Like the Apostle Paul says in I Corinthians Chapter 12, verses 4 through 12:
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ."
All of us are part of one Body, one Congregation, and all of us are equal before God. When there is a need in our church or in our community, each one of us is equipped and called to step forward and fill that need. Each one of us is called to make disciples, and to lead others in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. All of us are part of the same Family of God, carrying out what God is calling us to do.
* Biblical Eldership, An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership (Revised and Expanded) by Alexander Strauch, copyright 1995, Lewis & Roth Publishers, page 45. All Scripture references and quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.
Youth Ministry: A Peek behind the curtain
by Neal Thorne, NextGen Pastor
You could literally hear the air moving, the room was so quiet. Tyson had just dropped a bomb in our middle school small group. Once everyone realized that Tyson had set the tone moving forward, his transparency and vulnerability set off a domino effect of personal openness and sharing. It was magical. While most middle school small groups tend to lean toward a task of herding cats and discouraging bodily noises, this group stepped into a depth rarely seen among teenagers.
Tyson is your average middle school boy. Athletic, funny, awkward, and full of life. But on this night he apparently needed someone to listen, and some place to be open. That place was our church. Tyson shared with us that his parents were separated, but still living together under one roof for the “good” of the kids. Mom would leave for days at a time with no explanation, and dad rarely spoke to or engaged with the kids. Dad left early and returned late. Mom and Dad’s marriage was ice cold, but functional. In Tyson’s words, “while they don’t really talk much, at least they aren’t yelling anymore.” Tyson was pretty sure Dad had a girlfriend he worked with, as he would hear his father spend hours on the phone late at night when mom was gone on her unknown trips, and it was obvious it wasn’t his mom on the other end of the call. Tyson felt it was his responsibility to take care of his siblings, to keep them happy and unaware of the situation. He was often left as the sole caretaker of his brother and sister. All this between school, puberty, and learning to grow up way too fast.
I learned all of this in five minutes, sitting in a small group full of middle schoolers. And similar stories of divorce, neglect, hurt, and confusion promptly followed.
While Tyson is a fictional name I used for this article, his story is unfortunately true and real. His story, much like the stories we hear in youth ministry each week, come from teenagers who come to Canby Christian Church each week looking for a place of safety, love, and acceptance. (Being fed doesn’t hurt either.) On any given week, roughly 40 to 50 teenagers attend our midweek high school and middle school programs. Each month, about 65 different teenagers will walk through our doors and consider our church their personal “youth group.” Of the 65 teens we minister to, roughly 65% of them come from families who do not attend Canby Christian Church, and 50% of them come from families that do not attend church. What do these numbers mean? Well, a lot of things. But, I’d like to share three of them with you.
Our church is a safe place for teenagers of all types: Christian, non-Christian, hurting, broken, confused, and unloved.
Considering the overwhelming data that suggests young people are fleeing churches at an alarming rate, the fact that our church is viewed as a welcoming place for ALL types of young people is encouraging. And, I feel like Jesus would approve, which is kind of a big deal.
Our youth leaders are off-the-charts awesome.
So, maybe they aren’t THE reason that kids are coming, but I want to take this time to publicly say how blessed and thankful I am for such a dedicated and committed group who weekly serve in youth ministry. They pray for these kids, listen to these kids, have patience with these kids, and throw balls at these kids. (The ball throwing is legal youth ministry therapy for youth volunteers—it’s a real thing.) A youth ministry is only as effective as its volunteers, and our church is blessed by those who serve in our youth ministry.
We HAVE to provide opportunities for all our teenagers to grow in Christ.
This is the meat. The important stuff. The reason I wrote this article. Numbers and statistics and volunteers mean nothing if we are not strategically providing opportunities for our young people to grow INTO a relationship with Christ, or grow DEEPER in their relationship with Christ. So, what are we doing to provide opportunities for these youth to do that? I’m glad you asked.
Beyond our weekly schedule of midweek gatherings and classes, our youth ministry is deeply invested into two events that are happening this summer: our HS/College Mexico Mission Trip and our summer camps at Winema. We commit and invest a lot of money and time into these events because we have seen these events make a LIFELONG impact in the lives of teenagers. Lifelong. I have said for years that one week of camp or a mission trip is equivalent to a year’s worth of weekly ministry. For me, a lifelong commitment to Jesus is basically our entire mission. So, these ministry events are pretty important!
In closing, I have to say, I really wish I could fix the hurt and brokenness in Tyson’s life. As a dad and pastor, it pains me to see what some of these kids experience daily. In ministry, I often feel helpless when I hear the stories of brokenness and hurt in the lives of our teens, as well as the struggles of Christian teenagers trying to navigate a broken, messed up world. But then I’m reminded it’s not my job to fix anything. That is the job of Jesus. I sure hope I can help more teenagers meet Him. I think they will like Him.
How can you help? I was nervous you weren’t going to ask…
- Support our Youth Mexico Trip. It’s full of kids like Tyson.
- Come to our benefit auction on May 6th.
- Support and send kids to camp at WINEMA this summer.
- Tell a youth volunteer how grateful you are for their dedication. They are the unpaid rock stars of the ministry.
Volunteer Youth Leaders: Nick McClaugherty, Eric Petersen, Aaryn Petersen, Bryan Lemley, Colby Scheer, Tonya Scheer, Emily Thorne, Sarah Vasnik, Kayla Mast, Allison Hartwell, Lanee Bare, Taylor Joyner, Kade McClaugherty, Jacob Bare.
The joy of shepherding
by Jeff Hartwell, Elder
What an honor to be part of a team of elders who are currently trying to make shepherding the flock at Canby Christian a high priority. I look so forward to coming home from work every Monday evening and reading the email from CCC’s Office Assistant, Kayla. Kayla sends out the weekly prayer needs and comments received Sunday morning. In my opinion, this is a crucial way for the body to stay connected to the leadership, and for the leadership to respond accordingly. I know the staff prays over these requests each week as they meet. As elders we pray on our own and when we get together twice a month. These needs are taken seriously and we try to do what we can to offer encouragement as well as prayer. I find myself praying for many of these needs even while I’m at work throughout the day as the Spirit brings them to mind.
Here are some examples of shepherding I’ve seen in recent months:
1) One Friday afternoon, I received a call from a CCC member regarding a couple who needed help in their relationship. I was not seeing patients at that time, so I was available to meet with them. As the little group of us sat in the Starting Point room that afternoon, it was beautiful and exciting to experience the Holy Spirit work in the hearts and minds of this couple as they heard truths from God’s Word applying directly to their situation. The woman was set free from a lie of the enemy. Then I turned to her husband and asked if he had ever received Jesus as his savior. He said no, but wanted to know more. After hearing a presentation of the Gospel, right then and there, he actually decided to ask Jesus into his heart. Now that beats sitting at my desk doing paper work any day!
2) One of our seniors, 87-year-old Joan Miller, recently indicated she wanted to be baptized. Because of her health issues, her doctor told her she shouldn’t undergo the emotional stress of a “public immersion.” When coordinating with her son, Steve, I initially thought we could just use the bathtub at her home. Then he informed me that they didn’t have a tub and asked if we could baptize her in her shower. I told him it was not the typical “immersion” we are used to doing, and we try to uphold Scripture, but I would be willing to do that if that’s what it took. When the day came to baptize her, I brought Richard Sands with me. Richard was eager to help by offering to start a discipling study with Joan and her son, Steve. When we arrived at her home, the living room was full of people. She had assembled quite the little congregation of witnesses. This included several of her neighbors, along with her daughter and son. Then her son, Steve, informed me that he didn’t think it would work to do the baptism in the shower after all and asked if we could just do it there in the living room. So after the whole room heard me give a brief summary of the Gospel and a Biblical explanation of why we baptize people, we draped her with Dawn Turczynski’s haircutting gown, put a bucket on her lap, and poured warm water over her head and neck. (It definitely wasn’t full immersion, but it wasn’t sprinkling either. It reminded me of the Old Testament anointing of the priests.) Nonetheless, Joan was very touched. So after a prayer of blessing and asking the Holy Spirit to fill her, the little crowd all celebrated with homemade lemon bars and much joy. Joan was thrilled to hear that she would soon receive a certificate of baptism.
3) Another example of elder involvement in shepherding is Dan and Dana Leischner’s Sunday morning class. An aspect of shepherding is spiritual feeding and defending against false teaching. When Allison and I came back to CCC two years ago, Dan and Dana were teaching a class on practical Christian theology. We regularly had interesting and Biblically based discussions. Now, this past year, Dan and Dana are studying through the Gospel of John with a group of folks. Here is a comment directly from Dana regarding this class:
“One of the chief joys of the John class has been the opportunity to study God’s Word together as it unfolds chapter by chapter, and then discuss how the revealed truths connect to our present-day experiences—a process that fosters a deep level of fellowship. Those who attend the study are engaged and participatory, and lend much to the conversation as we seek what God reveals through John’s witness. Just this last week, one of the study participants was away at Men’s Retreat, but sent along with his spouse some thoughtfully laid out observations (with cross-references!) about the passage we studied on Sunday. This kind of commitment to the class and the people in it is a blessing to all who attend, including Dan and myself.”
4) I have been encouraging discipleship relationships for years. I love seeing new Christians grow, and I love giving mature Christians tools and materials to use to help baby Christians grow. The excitement of new Christians is contagious. This past year I have had the opportunity to take a discipling relationship to “the next level” and what fun that has been. It started with a young man taking my discipleship class over a year ago. He then asked me to personally disciple him. We have been getting together regularly ever since. Yes, we’ve studied the Bible and gone through a book on sexual purity, but the difference this time is that we are doing life together too. He is a tennis player and has allowed me to coach him in his game. He has joined our family many times for social activities outside and inside the home. Just two days ago, while hanging out with Allison and me after helping us navigate a couch down three fights of stairs and watching me do some drywall repair, we started talking financial investments with him over dinner. He said “Wow! I struck gold! Not only do I get mentored spiritually by hanging out with you guys, I get free training on how to be a handyman and sound financial counsel!” This level of relational discipleship has been very fulfilling. I would encourage you all to seek similar relationships. Please let me know if you are interested in the materials I can provide for taking someone through the foundational truths of our faith.
5) In addition to discipleship and teaching, the elders have sought to improve communication by visiting the LIFE Groups. It seems most groups liked this encounter well enough that they requested another visit by elders in six months. The time has been rewarding, as we were able to express our hearts in leadership, sharing what we see to be our Biblical roles as elders. We reviewed the mission, vision and core values of our church so that we all can be focused in the same direction. We shared some of the process that we are going through in the succession plan for a new lead pastor. It, of course, was an opportunity to pray with each group for their members, and for CCC.
6) It felt a bit like shepherding to me as I rounded up guys to attend the men’s retreat that occurred a few weekends ago. We had a wonderful time while being challenged to grow in our spiritual disciplines and faithful leadership in our homes, as well as some bonding times of sharing, praying and having fun together.
suubi medical Clinic
by Brandon Chase, Elder Secretary
In February of 2012, a team from CCC helped with a medical outreach at Kacungwa Community Church, our partner church in Uganda. Hundreds of people came, including a man carrying his daughter who had malaria. She was too weak to even hold her head up. He had carried her for about ten miles, walking the whole way. As soon as the medical staff saw her, they immediately brought her to the front of the line and gave her fluids and medication.
When it became clear this simple medical outreach didn’t have the right resources to treat a case of malaria this severe, they put her into one of the vans and raced her to the nearest hospital, which was about a 45-minute drive. The conditions of the hospital were horrible, unclean, unsanitary, and not something you would want to take anybody to, and, unfortunately, the little girl died in her father’s arms while waiting for care. The people that had driven them to the hospital then took the father and the body of the young girl back to her home where the father could bury her.
What a tragic story, but God brought something good out of it.
Suubi (Hope) Medical Clinic.
The death of the young girl with malaria served as motivation to continue the process of building the clinic. No child should die because they don’t have access to care and treatment for something as easy to treat as malaria. Pastor Sylver shared the vision and dream of a medical clinic with our first team that visited in 2010. Shortly after, God provided the start-up funds needed to purchase land and begin the process of building a medical center.
It took years, but the grand opening of the clinic happened last year and we were honored to be able to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Even now the people who were there when the girl died in 2012 can’t tell the story without tears flowing. It was just retold to our LIFE group again this last month, with all glory to God for great things He has done. We have never seen this father again. We would like to tell him the story and encourage him by letting him know what came out of the tragic death of his daughter. We may not get to tell him until we meet him again in heaven.
Sometimes we are unable to understand why things are happening. Many times we will never know. But it is all a part of God’s plan, and He will use all things for the good of those that love Him.