Hello church family!
Last April 22, 2015, we announced to the church that we are going to officially be placing Eric Price in an Elder Candidacy for a season of observation, testing, assessment, and prayer! By God’s grace, that time has run its course, and as we’ve spent the past 10 months watching and observing “out front,” as well as working through the wrestling, equipping, and lots of personal conversation, as well as assessment and study “behind the scenes,” we will be ordaining Eric as a Pastor and Elder in the church of Jesus Christ.
As many of you know, it’s been my hope and prayer since before we planted that we would raise up and appoint men who are both biblically qualified and sovereignly called by God to be under-shepherds and stewards of the flock of Jesus, our Good Shepherd. Scripturally, these men are called as Pastors to a variety of roles and tasks, some of which would include these:
- the role to pastor and shepherd (the words “pastor” and “shepherd” are the same words in Greek),
- be in the Word of God and in prayer,
- publicly teach and preach the “official” sound doctrine for the local church,
- carry out church discipline,
- determine how finances are distributed,
- pray for the sick,
- and oppose false doctrine.
Additionally, what we see modeled in the Word is what we call a “plurality of Elders.” What this means is that the picture the bible shows us is that a local church body should be governed and led by not just one “CEO type” personality, but for the purpose of accountability and balance, there should be a plural number of Elders who lead the local church. These men will be varied in their gifting and unique contribution to the body, but they will complement each other as well as be unified in their solidarity for the health of the church.
Early on in the church plant, my desire was to appoint these Elders within the first 6 months, as I sought for and desired that kind of accountability that only a group of committed and qualified Elders can offer. However, the wiser pastors that God put in my life encouraged me to be patient, observing the men in the church over time as they partake in a new ministry and allowing the Holy Spirit to make plain who He is setting apart for this role. In lieu of quick appointments of Elders, we instead formed an Outside Advisory Board consisting of three men, all of whom are Pastor/Elders in their own respective ministries, who have provided counsel, accountability, and guidance to our church over the past 3 years.
Now, with Eric as our second Pastor/Elder, we are greatly looking forward to a deepening culture of disciple-making, biblical counseling and shepherding, and equipping of the saints for the work of ministry.
Eric and his wife, Kathy, have been serving at Life Mission Church since before Day 1, and have been an important part of the ministry at our church. Eric’s role has grown over the past 3 years, and he is currently overseeing our Community Groups, as well as helping advance our mission of being a church that makes disciples that make disciples, as he is always giving his time and energy to building up various leaders and men in the church, helping equip them to be disciple-makers.
Over the past 9 years as I have known him, and specifically the past 3 years watching him in this context of ministry, I have been able to see him grow tremendously into what has clearly become a pastorally marked ministry as his heart, passion, and gifting to teach and shepherd others has been increasing in many obvious and clear ways. After much prayer and observation, as well as careful study and conversation with others, it seems right to now confirm the Lord’s calling of Eric into this specific role of ministry.
Therefore, over the last 10 months, we asked the church to both observe and pray for Eric and Kathy. Allow me to walk through what part of the process will look like as we seek the Lord’s guidance for the Prices and for our church.
- Covenantally Committed Member:
Each Member of our church has walked through the biblical values and descriptions of what we see emulates the life of a disciple who is committed to Christ and His church. In our Membership process, we are able to go in depth with each person as we explore their passions, experiences, and struggles. This helps us to know where extra care is needed, and where more equipping is desired. We want the church to be ensured that each Elder candidate (and their wives) are covenantally committed to serving the church and aim to align themselves with their church family.
- Elder Assessment:
The Elder Assessment helps in part to go through in detail the varying prerequisites outlined in the Word concerning the character, lifestyle, and gifting of Elders. This Assessment carefully combs through each qualification by asking heart probing questions to hopefully help reveal varying needs in the candidate’s life. No candidate is expected to be perfect (if they are, it would probably disqualify them as an Elder as it would show some severe self-deception!), but the hope is to identify what areas of life are in need of attention, and if the attention needed shows us that more time is needed for growth and maturity. Click here if you would like to see one of the main documents we use for Elder Assessment.
- Elder’s Wife Assessment:
Though there is no actual “prerequisites” for Elder’s wives, we go through a combination of the marks of a godly woman as set in the Word, as well as any characteristics of both Elders or Deacons, acknowledging that the wife of the Elder should also be walking with solidarity with her husband as he potentially moves into this new calling in life. Click here if you would like to see one of the main documents we use for Elder’s Wive’s Assessment.
- The church and community is invited to share their thoughts, affirmations, or hesitations:
Part of an Elder’s qualification is that he has a good reputation with those outside the church. We made it publicly known that he was a candidate in order to give both those in the church and those outside of a church to “speak now or forever hold their peace,” so to speak.
- In this process, I was greatly encouraged by amount of outpouring of affirmation and excitement from those who know him well, as well as those who have simply been casual observers of him and his ministry to our church.
- Guidance was also sought from our Outside Advisory Board as well, all three of whom have already given a thumbs up to begin the process:
Eric has spent time with Pastor Ron, Pastor Dave, and Pastor Ted in various ways that they could either observe him in conversation and action, or even ask him specific questions about life and ministry. All three of them have asked me specific probing questions about his life, marriage, ministry, and commitment to the church.
- It’s important to remember that not everyone who is qualified to be an Elder is necessarily called to be an Elder:
When you read through the qualifications of an Elder as laid forth in the Word, it is clear that every single Christian should be living the kind of lifestyle that an Elder is called to (save for the ability to preach and teach). Every Christian should be gentle, every Christian should not be a drunk, every Christian should be hospitable. So, though every Christian should be qualified in these areas, an Elder has to be qualified in these areas. But not only that, an Elder must not just simply be qualified, but he also must be called. I hope and pray that our church will be filled to the brim with men who are living the kind of lifestyle that the Scriptures describe for Elders. Some men will indeed be biblically qualified, but called to other lines of work, service, and ministry. They will be called into the business world, or called to devote extra amounts of time to their families, whether because their children have special needs, or maybe due to severe illness. Other men will be called to be Deacons in the church, or major volunteers in the community for the purpose of evangelism. For us, we have been seeking the Lord not only for the qualification of Eric’s life, but also the calling upon his life.
- His teaching and shepherding ability has been affirmed.
One of the required functions of a Pastor/Elder is the ability to teach. Though not every Elder needs to have public teaching as his primary role (1 Timothy 5.17), nor does he have to be amazing at it right off the bat (1 Timothy 4.13-16), every Elder does need to have the ability to teach through the Word effectively so that he can explain the truths of God, rebuke false teaching, and clearly make a path into the ears of listeners so that they can receive the grace of God by the hearing of the Word. At this point, we have witnessed his effective leading of communion and other times he has taught, and we have now also enjoyed seeing him effectively teach, and grow in that teaching ability, in the four sermons he has preached in the past 10 months.
Church family, the call to follow Christ is a call to death. We lose our life so we can find our life. We take up our cross and follow. Pastors have the unique calling to be the lead dyers. We are to die first, laying down our lives for the Lord and His church, not only because we love the Lord and His church, but also as an example to the church. We die as servants of the church. I don’t take this lightly, and I can assure you that Eric also does not take this lightly. He’s embarking on a whole new journey, and he will be in need of your continued prayers, support, and encouragement along the way.
Pray faithfully for your leaders. Pray for me, pray for my wife, and pray for Eric and Kathy; pray also for our entire church family. If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to go through the Scriptures that most plainly spell out the qualifications and descriptions of an Elder. These are found in Titus 1.5-9, 1 Timothy 3.1-7, and 1 Peter 5.1-4.
I expect that you are excited about what the Lord is doing in our church family and in the lives of Eric and Kathy. I am thankful for your prayers, and I look forward to seeing this new season and chapter of our church take shape.
Blessings to all of you,
Eric Price was Ordained as a pastor on February 14th, 2016. Watch this video we showed that is filled with affirmations by people who have been affected and blessed by Eric.