There is a key to spiritual survival available to you. It's called taking the next step. It means recognizing that God has not only called you to be a Christian, but to be a minister.
You have made the most important decision of your life. You have accepted Christ as your Savior. You have decided to make Jesus Lord of your life. It changed your life. In fact, Christ has given you a whole new life.
Now you want to keep that new life from heading towards the morgue. You see other Christians around you rapidly becoming spiritually comatose. Some might as well be hauled off in spiritual body bags. The life is gone. You don't want that to happen to you.
There is a key to spiritual survival available to you. It's called taking the next step. It means recognizing that God has not only called you to be a Christian but to be a minister. Calls to ministry aren't reserved for those who plan to go to the seminary and study theology. They aren't reserved for those who study Greek or Hebrew. They come to all Christians.
Christians who accept this call and act on it are the ones who don't stagnate. The ministering Christian becomes a living, functional member of the body of Christ. Those who do not accept and act on the call to ministry soon begin to spiritually die.
You have expressed an interest in living out this call by participating in the elder's work within the church. It may be a new thought to you. Perhaps you have thought of elders as old, austere men who sit in meetings, ask for money, and pray long prayers. You hardly feel as if you fit.
Actually, all types of people serve as elders. Elders do sit in meetings. They offer public prayers and ask for offerings. But their work embraces far more than that. And it is not just for those who are old, just for men, or just for super saintly types. It is for a variety of real people.
The elders in your church probably do lots of different things during the week. They might run a business, practice medicine, build houses, fix cars, type letters, care for children, operate a computer you name it. But all of them are people who have a conviction that God has called them to a special ministry. They have been specially consecrated for that ministry through the ceremony of ordination.
The Bible makes it clear that the tasks of leading God's people must be shared. When Moses found himself overworked, overstressed, and unable to lead effectively, God impressed his father in law to encourage him to share the load. When Jesus was on earth He called 12 men to be with Him and to extend His work. He also called 70 other people for a similar work on a larger scale. When the Apostle Paul established churches in different cities, he set apart elders to minister to those churches.
An elder does a lot of the same things a pastor does. A pastor cannot be everywhere and do everything that is needed in the church. The elders bring a variety of spiritual gifts and ministries to the pastoral team. Let us look at some things that elders do and ways they might apply to you:
An elder visits other people.
For you this might mean:
- Taking homework assignments and textbooks to a sick friend.
- Spending some time after school talking to a classmate who is discouraged.
- Going by to see that new kid who came to your youth group last Sabbath and saying you were glad he or she was there.
- Going by to see an old person in a rest home.
An elder is active in outreach.
That means the elder is committed to evangelism and making contact with people not already active church members. That could mean such activities as:
- Helping with a stop-smoking clinic or stress control workshop.
- Explaining the plan of salvation to somebody an inviting him or her to accept Christ as Savior.
- Helping the pastor or a guest evangelist visit people who came to a series of meetings.
- Participating in a Revelation Seminar.
- Putting in volunteer time at the local shelter for the homeless or Adventist Community Services Center.
- Becoming involved in a youth witness team that shares faith with other kids.
An elder assists in worship.
This could include:
- Reading Scripture or praying for the congregation.
- Assisting with music.
- Planning a special worship event.
- Suggesting some innovations that would make the worship service more Spirit-filled and alive.
- Preaching a sermon (in whole or part) or working with a youth team that presents the message and illustrates an aspect of the gospel.
An elder helps other people develop a more meaningful spiritual life.
This could include:
- Sharing with other people some of the ways God is helping you grow. Your spiritual growth can be a catalyst for others.
- Joining or leading a Bible discussion group.
- Teaching a Sabbath School class.
An elder is a leader and administrator within the church.
This could include:
- Planning an activity or ministry event
- Sharing ideas at a Youth planning meeting or a church board meeting.
- Helping make important decisions at a board or committee meeting.