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Posts Tagged: church polity

Elders Must Be Able to Pass Essay Exams, Not Just Multiple Choice Tests

May. 8, 2014By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

One of the primary tasks of being an elder is to protect the church from false teaching (1 Tim 4:12-16; Acts 20:25-32). Without men who can protect a church, false teachers will come from within and without and destroy a church. It is one of Satan’s primary attacks. So how do you know whether a man can handle issues of doctrine and therefore partially qualified (saying nothing of character here) to be an elder?

One way to think about it is in terms of learning comprehension. There are two primary ways of testing for understanding. The first is a multiple choice exam. These tests are primarily about content. Generally speaking, they don’t test comprehension as much as whether there is a foundation of knowledge. Bible tests could include questions on where Paul got his haircut, the definition of justification from a certain perspective, where a particular passage is in scripture, etc. You get the idea. The point of the test is to see whether the student knows the data, which often is memorized information. Elders should be able to pass these type of tests, but it is not enough.

Essay exams test comprehension. They ask you to interact with ideas and defend your own. A multiple choice exam asks: “What is John Piper’s definition of justification?” The essay question asks: “Interacting with John Piper and NT Wright, discuss their understanding of justification and argue for the position you believe is correct.” See the difference?

As an elder, your job is not to information dump. There may be some instances where you are teaching someone a basic understanding of the BIble, maybe helping them with historical facts. But error is not that simple. Being familiar with the Bible might not help you in dealing with false teaching. You can’t just memorize the talking points, because they don’t show you have owned what they are saying for yourself. There must be more than just information in the elder’s head and heart. There must be comprehension.

Can your elders pass an essay exam on your statement of faith? It would be a good place to start.

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Trends for 2014

Jan. 7, 2014By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Don Sweeting, President of RTS Orlando has listed trends he sees in faith, the nation, world and give us some important dates to note.

His list of faith trends in our culture:

  • Faith makes a hit at the movies: This Spring movies like Noah, Heaven is for Real, Son of God and Mary of Nazareth are released, but, as always, amidst a mountain of cultural slush like Godzilla and Fifty Shades of Grey.
  • Mega church pastor angst: Younger leaders worry about the role of mega church pastors, given all the recent transitions, scandals and crashes. They wonder what the “one great leader” model does to a person/church and how it can be improved.
  • Low pastor esteem: Trust in clergy reaches record lows, according to a recent Gallup Poll. The overall trend for clergy has sloped downward since 2001, a contrast to 30 years ago when community and congregation held pastors in higher esteem. Trust, integrity and honesty are issues.
  • Pope Francis is held up as religious model:   As TIME’s man of the year, Francis’ influence and example are being promoted both within and outside the Roman Catholic Church.
  • America “the hardest mission field”: That’s what some are saying. In our post-Christendom era of material abundance, outreach is a big challenge. There are numerous barriers to deal with before many people will set foot in a church.
  • Growth of multiple venues in one church: More churches are experimenting with multiple venues and campuses.
  • The issue of leadership: The Economist writes, “in 2014, the world will crave leadership!” Demands and expectations of pastors are higher than they were 25 years ago. Churches are looking for pastors that can preach and lead. More smaller churches are hiring executive pastors.




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