“Friendliest Church I’ve Ever Seen” — Cricket Veal

spoken during the “Fuss of ’95”

It was a trying, disappointing time. In a few months, our attendance had dropped from near 400 to about 300 each Sunday. Two of three elders had resigned, dissolving the eldership. Unhappy people left. People said it was my fault, the previous elders’ fault, and the ones who were still there’s fault. According to reports, the church was cold and unfriendly.

A Christian widow moved into a condo in our area. Chris, “Cricket,” Veal was a loving, happy Christian lady. She missed most of the fuss. She didn’t select a side to cheer for and alienate others.

She did something I’ve never seen before. She bought a folding table and folding chairs. Once a month, from our church directory, she selected six to eight people to invite to her home for a meal. Gail and I were invited more than once. It was because of Cousin Zeke, my ventriloquist figure.

It was simple, but powerful. We ate. We talked. Cousin Zeke and I chatted a few minutes. We went home. Cricket did it again next month. She wanted to become acquainted with Christians at Berry’s Chapel. She thought this was a good way. It took time to cook once a month for 8-10 people. She invested money to buy groceries. But it paid great dividends for Cricket and the people she blessed in her home. After doing this a few months, Chris’s observation on the congregation, “This is the friendliest church I’ve ever seen!”

Why was her observation different from many who could not survive the cold, unfriendly people in the congregation a few months before?

What Can I Learn from That?

  1. This is a good way for shepherds to relate to sheep. I find my name memory improves when I eat with people.
  2. The “Cricket Method” is ideal for a Bible teacher. I remember a lady who read stories to a group of young people on her front porch. I walked a mile to take part. I remember the Santa Clause she gave us at Christmas, made of an apple, marshmallow, and gum drops on toothpicks. That was 65 years ago.
  3. Initiating this practice is a good way to apply the principles in 1 Peter 4:8, 9:

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling (NKJV).

But I Don’t Have Time!

How about every six months or once a year? Direction is more important than speed. Something every few months is better than nothing forever. Do something, intentionally, and regularly to practice love and hospitality to other Christians and non-Christians. Luke 14:12-14

We appointed new elders. We survived the “Fuss of ’95.” A few years later, we averaged 400+ for the year. Many people contributed to the survival and revival of the church. They’ve been fuss-free for twenty-three years. One of the people I remember during that time was a newcomer, Cricket Veal. She “did what she could, with what she had, where she was” (Mark 14:8).

What suggestions do you have for showing love during a difficult time?

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Essentialism: The disciplined Pursuit of Less (New York: Crown Business, 2014)

My main idea from this book is I need to improve my commitment to saying, “No,” to less important things to say, “Yes,” to the most important people and things.

Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter (Location 4, Kindle Edition).

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential (Location 6, Kindle Edition).

Essentialism is about creating a system for handling the closet of our lives. This is not a process you undertake once a year, once a month, or even once a week, like organizing your closet. It is a discipline you apply each and every time you are faced with a decision about whether to say yes or whether to politely decline. It’s a method for making the tough trade-off between lots of good things and a few really great things. It’s about learning how to do less but better so you can achieve the highest possible return on every precious moment of your life (Location 19, Kindle Edition).

  1. Individual choice: We can choose how to spend our energy and time. Without choice, there is no point in talking about trade-offs.
  2. The prevalence of noise: Almost everything is noise, and a very few things are exceptionally valuable. This is the justification for taking time to figure out what is most important. Because some things are so much more important, the effort in finding those things is worth it.
  3. The reality of trade-offs: We can’t have it all or do it all. If we could, there would be no reason to evaluate or eliminate options. Once we accept the reality of trade-offs we stop asking, “How can I make it all work?” and start asking the more honest question “Which problem do I want to solve?” (Location 20, Kindle Edition).

To eliminate nonessentials means saying no to someone. Often. It means pushing against social expectations. To do it well takes courage and compassion. So eliminating the nonessentials isn’t just about mental discipline. It’s about the emotional discipline necessary to say no to social pressure (Location 23, Kindle Edition).

Given the reality of trade-offs, we can’t choose to do everything. The real question is not how can we do it all, it is who will get to choose what we do and don’t do. Remember, when we forfeit our right to choose, someone else will choose for us. So we can either deliberately choose what not to do or allow ourselves to be pulled in directions we don’t want to go(Location 23, Kindle Edition).

What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?

What if the whole world shifted from the undisciplined pursuit of more to the disciplined pursuit of less … only better?

I have a vision of people everywhere having the courage to live a life true to themselves instead of the life others expect of them (Location 26, Kindle Edition).

There are three deeply entrenched assumptions we must conquer to live the way of the Essentialist: “I have to,” “It’s all important,” and “I can do both.” Like mythological sirens, these assumptions are as dangerous as they are seductive. They draw us in and drown us in shallow waters.

To embrace the essence of Essentialism requires we replace these false assumptions with three core truths: “I choose to,” “Only a few things really matter,” and “I can do anything but not everything” (Location 32, Kindle Edition).

John Maxwell has written, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything” (Location 45, Kindle Edition).

Albert Einstein once said: “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”

… play is an antidote to stress, and this is key because stress, in addition to being an enemy of productivity, can actually shut down the creative, inquisitive, exploratory parts of our brain (Location 87, Kindle Edition).

In a Harvard Business Review article called “Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer,” Charles A. Czeisler, the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, has explained how sleep deprivation undermines high performance. He likens sleep deficit to drinking too much alcohol, explaining that pulling an all-nighter (i.e., going twenty-four hours without sleep) or having a week of sleeping just four or five hours a night actually “induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1%. Think about this: we would never say, ‘This person is a great worker! He’s drunk all the time!’ yet we continue to celebrate people who sacrifice sleep for work” Location 97, 98, Kindle Edition).

Who Selects Leaders in the Church? #2

do leaders select leaders or do leaders appoint leaders who have been selected by the group?

When it’s time to select elders or deacons, who makes the selection? Selecting and ordaining are two different actions. Who selects? Who ordains? Please read my previous post for the beginning of this discussion: Who Selects Leaders in the Church? #1.

The principle of the group selecting leaders, not leaders selecting leaders, isn't a modern idea. Click To Tweet

It’s found in Deuteronomy 1. The apostles and church in Acts 6 practiced it. Notice these quotes from J. W. McGarvey in his book, The Eldership, printed in 1870:

We have only one example on record, in which we are distinctly told what part was taken by the congregation, and what by the ordaining officers. This is the case of the seven deacons of the church in Jerusalem. The Apostles called together “the multitude of the disciples,” and said, “Look you out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” Acts vi: 2, 3. The selection, then, was made by the multitude, and the appointment by the apostles. The distinction made between these two terms should not be overlooked. The term appoint is sometimes understood as including the selection, but in the style of the apostles it means merely induction into office, and is distinguished from the selection which precedes it.

Now, in the case of the Elders in the churches of Lycaonia and Pisidia, it is said that Paul and Barnabas “ordained them”; or, to express it more accurately, “appointed them.” Acts xiv: 23. The word here rendered appoint (cheirotoneo) is not the one so rendered in Acts vi: 3; but in such a connection its current meaning is about the same. The part performed by the apostles in this case being the same as in the case of the deacons, it is fair to presume that the part performed by the people was also the same, and that Luke fails to mention it because, having previously stated the process of selecting one class of church officers, he could presume that his readers would understand that the same process was observed in the present instance. Indeed, the nature of the case is such that we would of necessity so understand it, unless expressly informed that the process was different (pages 71, 72).

I’ve seen this process implemented several times. It’s encouraging to see a congregation taught and trusted to understand the Bible and apply the principles in it with wisdom given from God to make wise selections according to teaching and examples in scripture. Here are procedures some congregations have used in this process: Elder Selection Procedures.

Some principles in this process:

  • Men have to have several nominations to be considered. In the example, the number is ten. This prevents many frivolous or unfounded suggestions.
  • There are questions for the ones considered and being considered to ponder to evaluate themselves. The answers will be available for members of the congregation to see and question if they have concerns.
  • The wife also provides information and evaluation of her husband. I suggest an interview of the wife without her husband. Some women don’t want to be the wife of an elder. If they don’t get to talk it out before he’s appointed they may act it out after he’s appointed. It’s better to learn this before an unwilling wife’s husband is appointed as an elder.
  • When someone has a question or objection to a nominee, the concern is addressed first to the person—not the selection committee. Some churches have “legalized gossip” for two weeks during the appointment process: “If anyone has a scriptural objection, write it, sign your name, and hand it to one of the elders. We will not reveal the person who had the objection.” That isn’t Biblical (Matthew 18:15). Pagans have better rules than that. Festus said in Acts 25:16:

“To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’ ”

Some churches have “legalized gossip” for two weeks during the appointment of elders and deacons. Click To Tweet
  • Elders participate in this process just as other members of the congregation. He can submit suggestions of men to serve. If an elder has an objection or question about a nominee being selected, he talks directly to the man—just as any other Christian. If there’s no resolution in this conversation, he takes with him one or two more—usually members of the selection committee. The elders don’t call the man in question in and say, “We’ve considered and prayed about this. The elders don’t believe at this time you are ready to serve at this time— maybe in the future.” The church selects. The leaders ordain.
  • There’s an affirmation procedure. Not only did we not find anything wrong with this man, but we see in him godly characteristics to declare we want him to be a shepherd and a leader. The nominees and the search committee decide on a percentage of people affirming for the man to serve.

If you have questions, comments, or criticisms, please contact me.

What are some things you’ve seen that did or did not work well in the selection of leaders?

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Who Selects Leaders in the Church?

do leaders select leaders or do leaders appoint leaders who have been selected by the group?

When it’s time to add to the group of elders or deacons, who makes the selection? I’ve observed at least three ways: (1) Elders select whom they think would do the best work and submit the list to the church to evaluate. (2) Elders ask the church to make suggestions, but make the final decision as to those selected. (3) The church selects. The elders or preachers ordain.

A few years ago, I noticed there was a difference in selection and appointment of leaders in the church. I’d always thought of those as the same thing. Who is to select leaders in the church? Notice what the Bible tells us about this.

  1. Paul told the elders at Ephesus the Holy Spirit had made them overseers. The word, made, means “to assign someone to a particular task, function, or role—‘to appoint, to designate’ ” (Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.). New York: United Bible Societies). It’s my understanding the Holy Spirit makes elders by converting, instructing, and maturing men to be leaders God wants them to be and by giving Christians qualities to look for in selecting these men to serve in leadership positions.
  2. I find passages telling me preachers appointed elders. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in churches they established on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:23). The word means “to formally appoint or assign someone to a particular task” (Louw, Nida). Paul left Titus in Crete to appoint elders in every city (Titus 1:5). The word there means “to assign to someone a position of authority over others —‘to put in charge of, to appoint, to designate’ ” (Louw, Nida). Nothing is said in these verses about who selected the elders. Paul, Barnabas, and Titus appointed men as elders.
  3. In Exodus 18:25, we read, “Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people.” But, when we get to Deuteronomy 1, Moses tells us how he chose to choose leaders. Moses was speaking to “all Israel” (Deuteronomy 1:1). Moses said to all Israel, “Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you.’ And you answered me and said, ‘The thing which you have told us to do is good’ ” (Deuteronomy 1:13, 14). Moses said, “You (all Israel) choose. I’ll appoint.
  4. In Acts 6, when the apostles said they could not leave their tasks in the ministry of the word and prayer, they told the multitude to seek out seven men to serve the widows. The multitude chose. The apostles appointed. If any leaders should have been smart enough and wise enough to pick the best men to be appointed, it seems those whom the Lord selected, taught, and trained should have been the best selectors. However, the apostles told Christians in Jerusalem, “You seek out men. We’ll appoint.” The multitude chose. The apostles appointed. The apostles oversaw the process. They set structure. But the multitude selected. The apostles appointed. Click To Tweet
  5. The scriptures I’ve found instructing or giving examples of elders selecting elders or deacons:

The scriptures I’ve found instructing or giving examples of elders selecting elders or deacons...0 Click To Tweet

In the next post, I’ll share a process to implement this principle.

What are some things you’ve seen that did or did not work well in the selection of leaders?

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