This Sunday, May 2 is the day that we elect Officers of the Church at New Hope. We will hold a brief, but important Congregational Meeting in Fellowship Hall at 10:10 am (in between the two services, so everyone can attend). In between the coffee, doughnuts that are normally there, and the tables that will be set up for the Youth Mission Trip Auction, we will find a way to gather together and listen to the report of the Church Officer Nominating Committee (CONC) as they give us a slate of nominees on which to vote.
Every church has their own way of choosing its leaders. These are the people who are given the joint responsibility for leading a congregation and making decisions that will keep the congregation faithful to the call of Christ.
We are part of the Presbyterian Church and our name tips our hand for how we choose leadership. The word 'presbyter' is a Greek word for 'Elder'. We are a church that is led by Elders- those people who are seen by the congregation to have the faith, maturity and wisdom to lead. In our church, Ministers are considered to be Elders, too. Closely related are our Deacons. While they have different functions (they are the ones who make sure we are caring well for those who are in immediate need), their qualifications are similar. Together, Elders, Deacons and Ministers are the 'Officers' of the Church. You can see who is being nominated by clicking here.
Sometimes people get the wrong idea of what it means to be a leader in the church. It is an easy mistake to think that being an officer of the church means they are 'in charge' of everything. While officers are certainly responsible for many things, being 'in charge' of the church still very much belongs to Jesus Christ! The job of the Officers is to discern the call of Christ for who we are and then lead the way in responding to that call.
In truth, leadership is just one more expression of service. Our Book of Order (Constitution) sates as much when in the opening statement about 'Offices of Ministry' it says,
All ministry in the Church is a gift from Jesus Christ. Members and officers alike serve mutually under the mandate of Christ who is the chief minister of all. His ministry is the basis of all ministries; the standard for all offices is the pattern of the one who came "not to be served but to serve." (Matthew 20:28)
On Sunday, we may be electing officers, but what we are really doing is seeking good servants.