Meetings That Work – Alexander Strauch
Meetings That Work: A Guide to Effective Elders’ Meetings by Alexander Strauch is a short, practical read about what Church Elders should actually be doing. His thesis is that most modern elders meetings are not what they should be. If elders can focus on real spiritual matters of the Church and get the Big Picture, the Church will be more effective and Elders meetings will become a place of spiritual growth, God-honoring community and Christ-Centered leadership that shepherds the Church into a healthy direction.
Strauch believes that “elder’s meetings affect the spiritual health of the church (8).” Positively or negatively there is a correlation between the health of the church and the effectiveness of elders’ meetings. If the meetings are pointless and the leaders are not growing, how can they expect the church members to have purpose and grow? Biblical leadership is an “Eastern-Shepherding” model as opposed to a “Western-Driving” model; the picture looks like shepherds vs. cowboys if that image makes it any clearer. Most Elders meetings want to direct with a top-down, western, model of leadership whereas the Church needs Christ like leaders who model growth and incarnational love. “the Elder council is a microcosm of how the whole congregation should live and work together (8).”
Strauch believes that Elders meetings are important because they affect the spiritual health of the Church; they build Character, develop leadership skills, enhance Group Moral and accountability and train future leaders. If your Elders meetings are not the place for this than maybe it is time to refocus your meetings on things that matter.
The trick to having effective elders’ meetings is having effective elders. Effective elders are individuals who are Biblically qualified (see 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, 1 Peter 5 and others to understand the qualities and qualifications of church shepherds). They have to not only be qualified but individuals who conduct themselves with Christ like attitude (20), Love (21), and Service (22). These individuals are people who understand what really matters to the Church. Far too often Elders do things that other members should be doing; they discuss finances, building issues, plan dinners, and others things that don’t ultimately help the Church.
The key to effective elder’s meetings lies in the idea that Elders deal with Eternal matters; elders should be shepherds of not only the present church but stewards of the future church. To do this, they have to have to care about the things that Jesus cared about. “The proper functioning of the eldership revolves around three core responsibilities: people, prayer, and the Word (42).” People are the focus of the meetings; understanding needs and caring for others, providing “soul-care” for the family of God they have been trusted with. To carry this out Elders need significant Prayer time. It is a shame that elders meetings have been reduced to a 15-second blessing at the beginning of the meeting followed by two hours of building needs talk. “Prayer should, therefore, be a significant part of all elders’ meetings (44).” If you are not praying you are not connected to Christ and how are you going to lead his Church without even consulting him? Finally, elders deal with issues of the Word. “A fundamental task of the elder council is to define, clarify , state, and continually restate the church’s foundational, nonnegotiable beliefs, its unique doctrinal distinctive, its ministry priorities, its direction its spiritual values, and its mission and vision (47).” These are the Biblical tasks of church shepherds.
Meetings that Work includes practical wisdom to get organized to be more effective as well. These ideas are more cultural suggestions than Biblical imperatives. Keeping records, having a well thought out
agenda, minutes, and evaluations are important to managing things well regardless of what shape they take. Strauch includes prayer guides, discussion questions, and a sample agenda to help a board get reorganized and start dealing with things that matter. These are very helpful and easy to implement into elders meetings.
This book would be an excellent, quick read (87 pages) for preachers or any elder. It would even make a good quick study for an elder group that wants to be more effective. I encourage anyone who is in located ministry and wants their church to be truly effective to get this book, read it, and pass it along to members of the board. For the Church to be effective in today’s society it cannot continue on the maintenance mode that has sustained it for the past century. If you want your church to be effective you need leaders that are effective.
Alexander Strauch is a gifted Bible teacher and elder at a church in Littleton where he has served for over 40 years. (Inside Cover).