By Wayne Jackson
James A. Garfield was the twentieth president of the United States, serving less than four months before he was assassinated. He was a member of the church and served as an elder. When Garfield relinquished his role as an elder, it is said that he stated, “I resign the highest office in the land to become president of the United States.” Serving as an elder in Christ’s church is the highest position a man can attain on this earth.
The responsibility of elders is to oversee the flock of God among them, watching in behalf of their souls, being aware that they will give account to the Lord for the exercise of their leadership (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:2). One aspect of the elder’s obligation is to “admonish” us when they see we are in spiritual danger (1 Thessalonians 5:12).
The term “admonish” conveys the companion ideas of encouragement, and when necessary, reproof. When the child of God has spiritual difficulties, and his elders seek to assist with loving care, the devout person will appreciate that, and respond with grateful improvement. To resist affectionate counsel that is in harmony with the Scriptures is an act of rebellion against God himself (cf. 1 Samuel 8:7b), and the offender will give account for his conduct on the Day of Judgment.
In criminal law there is the common practice of flight to avoid prosecution. Law-breakers frequently labor under the illusion that if they flee jurisdiction they will be free from their legal responsibility. But such cannot be tolerated in a law-abiding society, as reasonable people know; rather, one must accept accountability for his deeds within the environment where the inappropriate actions have taken place.
Similarly, it sometimes is the case that church members will drift into outrageous and sinful patterns of behavior. When approached by the elders for spiritual counsel, they resist. If the godly leaders begin to apply gentle pressure, the resistance becomes more determined. Finally, when it becomes apparent that the shepherds are going to apply a firmer approach in their attempts to help the wayward soul, the tactic then becomes: “flight to avoid prosecution.” Or, in the more common “church” jargon: “I am withdrawing my membership.”
Congregational membership is both an obligation and an option. There is no conflict in this statement. It is an obligation that a Christian identify with a local group whenever a faithful church is available. The Lord never intended that the child of God be an “island unto himself,” traversing the countryside with his “membership” in his back pocket, so to speak. There are corporate obligations (Acts 20:7; Hebrews 10:25; 13:17).
On the other hand, a person has the option of making his own congregational choice. No eldership has the right to demand that all Christians—within a certain radial sphere of the local building—identify with them.
When one seeks membership in a congregation, and places himself under the leadership of local elders, he has taken on a responsibility to be regarded with great reverence. He may not misbehave, and when approached by godly elders, declare (in essence): “You have no authority over me. I will do as I please. I will leave this church and you can do nothing about it.”
If one wishes to leave, fine; he has the option to do so. But if there is “unfinished business,” that may not be ignored. The offenders must take responsibility for their actions and make matters right with the congregation they suddenly have found so distasteful.
Right is right; and accountability is both expected and required. Unfortunately, in too many instances the practice is: “Just let them go; out of sight out of mind.” Such does not reflect responsible leadership.
Luke 10:2, “And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Jesus told us in Luke 10:2, that when it comes to Kingdom work, there is going to be a shortage of workers. This is still true today, many congregations are looking for ministers, and even those congregations who have ministers are often looking for Bible class teachers, men to lead during worship services, and servants in other areas of the work of the church. One of the disappointing aspects of ministry is to hear when no one will step up and serve; in fact, many good works have ceased because no one would lead or support those who lead these efforts. The following are some suggestions on how we can get more volunteers to help with various works of the church:
·Plan ahead. Too many times we do not have people to help us in ministry because we simply do not plan ahead. Many will wait to the last minute to get helpers, and by that time many have already made other plans. If you are in a leadership position, respect other people’s time, plan ahead, do not wait until the last minute to ask for help.
·Be involved yourself. Too many times we cannot find help because we did not support others’ efforts. If you need volunteers, go help someone else. When they see you helping them, they are more likely going to be open to the idea of helping you.
·Be an example - When I first came to the congregation here, our elders gave me a job description of the minister’s position. There were several items listed that one would expect a minister to do such as doing the preaching, teaching, evangelism, etc. At the conclusion of the job description were these words:
“If there is a good work done by the church, participate as a Christian family and as members of the Camden Avenue Church of Christ as much as possible. We cannot encourage or expect our members to support efforts that we as leaders do not support. There occasionally may be conflicts that make participation impossible, but when possible, elders, deacons, ministers, and other recognized leaders - lead by their example.”
These words of wisdom from our elders are wise words for all especially those of us who lead other people, lead by example.
·Go ask people to help – I once needed cookies for VBS, so I went to the best cookie makers of the congregation – the grandmas of the congregation. They were happy to make the cookies for VBS. After they agreed to make the cookies, I asked these wonderful ladies why they hadn’t made cookies for VBS before. Do you know what their answer was? No one had asked them. This taught me a valuable lesson about recruiting volunteers, people need to be asked. Too many times we put an announcement in the church bulletin or have it announced from the pulpit and people don’t pay attention because they did not hear it or read it. Those who do hear the announcement sometimes think the announcement is referring to someone else. If we want volunteers, go to an individual and ask them personally.
It is true as Jesus reminds us that we will always need workers in the Kingdom. But these four things: planning ahead, being involved yourself, being an example, and personally asking an individual to help, can be ways we can improve our recruitment of volunteers.
A man was lost while driving through the country. As he tried to read a map, he accidentally drove off the road into a ditch. Though he wasn’t injured, his car was stuck in the mud. So the man walked to a nearby farm to ask for help.
“Warwick can get you out of that ditch,” said the farmer, pointing to an old mule standing in a field. The man looked at the haggardly mule and looked at the farmer who just stood there repeating, “Yep, old Warwick can do the job.” The man figured he had nothing to lose. The two men and Warwick made their way back to the ditch.
The farmer hitched the mule to the car. With a snap of the reins, he shouted, “Pull, Fred! Pull, Jack! Pull, Ted! Pull, Warwick!” And the mule pulled the car from the ditch with very little effort.
The man was amazed. He thanked the farmer, patted the mule, and asked, “Why did you call out all of those other names before you called Warwick?”
The farmer grinned and said, “Old Warwick is just about blind. As long as he believes he’s part of a team, he doesn’t mind pulling.”
- via The Lantern, Highway Church of Christ, Sullivan, IL Ron Thomas serves as preacher and an elder for the congregation and you may visit their website as http://www.highwaycofc.com
On August 28, 2021, wonderful tributes were made to a man who impacted thousands of people for good and for God. Jack Zorn was the man who was memorialized that day with glory to the God that he served.
One of the people who spoke at Dr. Zorn’s funeral was a distinguished African American man in uniform. The uniformed man may not have been known by many in attendance at the funeral, but this man knew and deeply appreciated Dr. Zorn. He shared that day and also on Facebook how Dr. Zorn had impacted his life. Here is his Facebook post:
I've always wanted to be an aviator since age six… When I was about 13, I would ride my bicycle from Mobile Hwy to Dannelly Field Airport [in Montgomery, AL] just to hang on the gate all day long watching F-4 Phantoms takeoff and land. One day a wonderful man named Dr. Jack Zorn (Lads to Leaders founder) saw me hanging around the fence at Montgomery Aviation and asked if I wanted to come inside and get a close up of his Cessna 182 (N1444S). Of course I accepted because I had never seen the inside of a cockpit up close. Later he received permission from my mother and we actually went flying on several occasions. I initially got in trouble because my mother didn't know her son was riding a bicycle on Highway 80 chasing F-4's, but she knew my passion. I thank the Lord for allowing our paths to cross, and I pray that he knows that it was an ordained meeting that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I now pay it forward to the youth in hopes that I may impact a young life the same way he impacted mine. I will forever miss him! To God be the glory!
Thomas Day, First Officer
ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI, AGI, IGI
Because of Dr. Zorn’s encouragement, Thomas Day fulfilled his dream of becoming an airplane pilot.
A good friend of mine, Steve Phillips, shared Day’s Facebook post on his page. Dr. Zorn’s daughter, Rhonda Fernandez, posted a comment thanking Steve for sharing the information and included these words of reflection: “[I’m] so proud of Daddy. [Here was] a little boy – many days a week for a very long period of time [with] his nose in the chain link fence, invisible to all except Daddy.”
That young teen, Thomas Day, is forever grateful that Dr. Zorn noticed him, befriended him, and encouraged him to fulfill his dreams.
Dr. Zorn “noticed” many young people throughout his life and encouraged them to become Christians and leaders in the church. By his example, his influence, and the Lads to Leaders/Leaderettes Program that he began, my children, many children at Creekwood Church of Christ, and thousands of children throughout the world have been impacted and challenged to become Christian leaders.
I think Dr. Zorn “noticed” people because every soul is important to God. Every person has sinned (Romans 3:23) and desperately needs a Savior. God loves every person so much that He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross for the sins of the world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).
Dear reader, God has “noticed” you and wants to save you for an eternity. Won’t you accept His loving offer by trusting and obeying Jesus?
-- David A. Sargent
P.S. With love, appreciation, and admiration for Dr. Jack Zorn (1934-2021) for his love for God, Jesus, the Word of God, and for his passion to teach and train young people to become Christian leaders.
David A. Sargent, Minister
Church of Christ at Creekwood
1901 Schillinger Rd. S.
Mobile, Alabama 36695
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