I am extremely grateful for the new leadership structure that the church adopted in late 2012.
You’ll recall that the governing board (called “diaconate”) now includes both department heads and at-large deacons.
The 8 department heads are each responsible for a specific department of the church, while the 3 at-large deacons (plus moderator) are responsible for the overall health & well-being of the church.
The entire diaconate typically meets once a month for 1-2 hours, while the at-large deacons meet once a quarter (usually for half a day). The at-large deacons also meet throughout the quarter, as needed. For example, already this year, we’ve had 3 special meetings on various topics, in addition to our half-day meeting.
The at-large deacons serve as my primary counselors and conduct my annual performance review. They also counsel the department heads from time-to-time. In fact, each department head is assigned to a particular at-large deacon.
The new structure seems to be working very well. The department heads can focus on their specific department, while the at-large deacons focus on the overall mission of the church.
I am particularly thankful for our at-large deacons because they help shoulder some of the stress and strain of leading a church. Most “church watchers” agree that church leadership is more difficult today for four primary reasons:
1. People generally have less respect for their leaders, including spiritual leaders;
2. People generally have more emotional and relational difficulties that manifest themselves in the day-to-day life of the church;
3. The culture is no longer accommodating of Christianity, but rather hostile toward it; and
4. The powerful consumerist mindset that pervades our culture also pervades the modern church.
A key passage for church leaders is I Peter 5:1-3:
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; . . . not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
A key passage for the congregation is Hebrews 13:17:
Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
First Baptist Harlan is a great church. I thank God everyday for the privilege of serving with & among you. I also thank God for the leaders of our church who serve so faithfully and competently, with love and humility.