Last Sunday was a roller coaster. The high point came when we announced the congregation meeting at North Second Street had nominated two men to be appointed as overseers for the church. David Muiznieks and Rick Patterson received overwhelming support from our flock (87 and 79-percent respectively). What a relief! After 20-years as a congregation and nine-months of teaching and praying about the eldership, we had finally come to a resounding agreement. I looked forward to an appointment process with few, if any objections and the fulfillment of God’s will for his Son’s church in Clarksville. But like all roller coasters, the rise merely preceded a fall.
During our meeting with David and Rick to ask them if they desired the office, brother Rick stated he did not. Since a biblical church must have a plurality of elders and with only one man remaining who had the required support of the congregation, our current effort to put ourselves in order came to a sudden close. I am sure I am not the only one who felt like a door had been shut in their face just as I was being elevated from the kids table and invited into the living room for Thanksgiving dinner. I stubbed my toe on Rick’s, “No.”
So I sulked around for a few minutes…hours…couple of days…okay, “Who’s counting?!?!” After some conversation, quite a bit of whiney prayer, and no little reflection on the cross and the silliness of me being disappointed over something so comparably trivial; a thought became fixed in my mind. This was not only God’s will but God working in this congregation.
For those of us who have grown up in churches of Christ, we are familiar with the phrase, “The only thing worse than not having elders, is having unqualified ones.” That is the fate God aided us in avoiding. Let’s say we cajoled Rick into becoming a shepherd over his own objections. He would have been serving unwillingly and under compulsion. That is the opposite of the apostolic teaching of I Peter 5:2. It would not only have been an unscriptural decision, Satan surely would have found that weakness like an arrow drawn to Achilles’ heel.
As we closed our meeting last Lord’s day, brother Scott Ford led a prayer and thanked God for the peace of this church. Amen. It is no small thing to step off a roller coaster at the end! The most divisive and damaging events in this group’s history surrounded failed attempts at installing elders1. We are disappointed but not set at odds against each other. Praise God for this reality.
So, now what? We made a decision to review our situation in a year. Because we did not fail. We preached, prayed, and selected in peace and harmony. We can take encouragement from the fact we overwhelmingly agreed on two men to lead us. Those are no small successes (especially during a 100-year pandemic!). We know we can humble ourselves as a group to be the congregation God designed us to be. May God raise up men to serve who desire the work of caring for this flock.
Well, that’s enough dilly-dallying. Let’s get back to work. There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save, let’s send the light!