Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Elder Care Advice

Our elders review our church directly ever time we meet to address needs of the members of our body but this method is more intentional and deliberate.  From the 9Marks blog.

Dear 9Marks,
As I understand it, the elders of your church keep a list of people who are in need of special care and oversight. This list includes people in a variety of circumstances: in health crises, in process of being confronted over unrepentant sin, in need of deep encouragement because of certain struggles, etc. And the purpose of this list is to make sure the elders have “eyes on” and are kept in touch with the condition of the individuals.
So, some implementation questions:
1) How does someone get on the list?
2) What info goes on the list? Name + situation + elder taking some primary oversight? More information? Less information?
3) Who sees this list? I presume elders only, but are there exceptions to that?
4) If a person gets on the list, are they notified? If so, what’s that conversation like?
I’m sure there are other aspects of this practice that would be good and helpful to hear about. It seems like an excellent thing for us to begin doing at this stage of life in our church. Are other ways of thinking about it that you would commend to us?
—Joshua, California

Dear Joshua,

Thanks for introducing the “internal elder care list” so that I don’t have to. You describe it correctly. It’s our list of those sheep who have wandered off from the ninety-nine, or who for some other reason are in ongoing need. To your questions:
  1. During the executive session portion of our elders meeting (when there are elders only, and no pastoral interns or other guests are present), the chairman asks if anyone has an addition to make to the care list. At that point, any elder can recommend adding so-and-so for such-and-such reason.
  2. The list includes the person or couple’s name(s); the name of the elder(s) primarily responsible for interacting with the individual and keeping the elders informed; as well as a phrase or two update. We all receive a copy of the list in our “elder packet” four or five days before the elder meeting (packets also include minutes from previous meetings, any memos to discuss, the list of the members’ names for whom we will pray, member applications and resignations, etc.).
  3. Only elders see the list. No exceptions. We do talk through the list during elders’ meetings when others are present. But we don’t refer to the individuals by name in that setting but by number. Every other elders’ meeting, the chairman will lead us through each name. “How’s number 1 doing?” The elder(s) responsible for number 1 will then provide all of us an update. “And how about number 2?” When a person’s status has improved, we remove him or her from the internal careless.
  4. No, no one is notified if his or her name is on the internal care list. The care list is just our way of reminding ourselves to pursue regular updates on hurting or straying sheep. The only time people find out their name is on the care list is when we inform them that we are putting their name on the “public care list.” This latter list consists of the names we announce to our members in our members’ meeting, either to request special care and prayer, or as a preparatory step toward excommunication. Our public care list will, at most, only have a few names on it. Our internal care list tends to have anywhere from 5 to 15 names. And we’re a church of just over 1000.
Well, that was some serious insider baseball. Or more like a pastor geek convention. Either way, I hope helps you to care better for your sheep.

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