Two New Elders, Another Workshop 18 Months Later: NSO Workshop # 17

Highland Church of Christ elders, ministers, and wives
Highland elders, ministers, and spouses; left to right: Tammy Pilkinton, Richard Pilkinton, Jan Sanders, Malvin Sanders, Brian Gregory Amana Gregory, Matt Shirel, Marjorie Hogan, Al Hogan, Heather Oakley, Brian Oakley, Barbara Paisley, Johnny Paisley, Bennie Pilkinton, Jim Pilkinton, Gail Barber, Jerrie Barber

The first New Shepherds Orientation Workshop, November 1, 2, 2013 was initiated when Henry Wilhoit, an elder from Fairlane Church of Christ, Shelbyville, Tennessee called me with a request.

“Jerrie, we’ve appointed five elders. Four of them have never served before. Do you think you could prepare something to help us understand the work of elders and how to do it better?” I told him I’d do my best. The elders and their wives, Gail and I worked six hours Friday and six hours Saturday. Read more: Fairlane NSO Workshops

That idea prompted me to think: in about every area of life, when someone starts a new job, begins the same job with a new organization, enrolls in a new school, or begins any new endeavor, there’s a time of orientation. It’s designed to introduce the inductees to their new environment and start effectively.

The concept communicates something new and important is beginning. The group or organization wants the new members of the group to have a good and positive start. They plan for the new beginning to be intentional rather than accidental.

Highland Church of Christ in Columbia, Tennessee shares that notion. Last year, March 16-18, we conducted a New Shepherds Orientation Workshop. They’d appointed new elders a year earlier.

This year, they selected and ordained two more elders. They thought the group could benefit from another New Shepherds Orientation Workshop.

We do that in families. When a new child is born or adopted, we begin to teach the newcomer to walk, talk, and act as the family — even to the accent of the region and our particular family. Usually, this orientation to the family rules is unconscious, unspoken, but understood.

That’s the way I’ve observed it in many congregations and elderships. Someone is baptized, places membership, or ordained as an elder or deacon. We expect them to follow our rules but never articulate the rules. One reason we do that is no one told us the rules. And our rules are unconscious, unspoken, understood, and contradictory.

New Shepherds Orientation Workshop tries to improve on that model. We encourage each other to think about the way we do things, the habits we’ve developed, and change them when changing would help us grow.
We’re familiar with “growing pains” and accept that as normal.

The Highland brothers and sisters enthusiastically participated in this second workshop in eighteen months. Again, we met at The Bridge, in Columbia. We were comfortable and well-fed by Brian Oakley and the staff.

According to the participants, the discussion groups were helpful in getting to know each other better and applying the principles we discussed.
Each shepherd and minister shared a “mustard seed” he had learned during the workshop during the sermon Sunday morning.

Gail and I enjoyed being with this group of Christians in Maury County. I appreciate their enthusiasm for continued growth and effectiveness.

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Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

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