1960 Elders Meeting - Portland, Oregon by Howard Mooney
Elders Meeting – Portland, Oregon - April 5, 1960
By Howard Mooney
It is quite possible that not too many of you have been in a meeting like this before. We arranged this gathering tonight, because we have found it helpful from time to time to gather the elders together and discuss with them the things that are of mutual interest to us. We hope that this gathering will be will be most profitable. One of the things we would like to accomplish this evening is to help you to realize how much we appreciate the place you are filling, as elders in this great fellowship. The older I grow in the work, the more I find myself thanking God for men like you. I am so thankful that God, in His perfect plan, did not leave out the elders. They take such a great load from our shoulders. In fact, it is hard for us to find words that express just how much this means to us.
Paul's letter to Philemon has, along this line, meant a great deal to me. This was written by Paul, a servant, to Philemon, an elder. It also took in his beloved wife, Apphia. The wives of elders can do much in helping their husbands fill the worthy place they have been called upon to fill. This is why we asked you wives to accompany your husbands here tonight. In this letter Paul referred to Philemon as a fellow laborer verse 1; a partner verse 17; a brother verse 20. It is so hard for the religious world to comprehend a relationship like this existing. They cannot begin to produce an association like this, between their ministry and deity. This is a miracle found in God's true way. To us it is an increasing miracle; to those looking on, it is a deep mystery.
When you think of a fellow laborer, you could think of two oxen yoked together both serving the same master, both pulling the same load, both laboring for the interest of the same field. This is a wonderful picture of the relationship existing between Paul and Philemon. The work partner reminds us that this is also the Father's business. At the early age of 12, Jesus was very much concerned about His Father's business. They share their profit and loss together. Partners have the same interest in the same business. They go through the same ups and downs. Their existence today and their hope tomorrow, depends on upon that business. They are for that reason, both constrained to put their best into it.
Another nice thought about partners is that when one is away, they know that the other is taking the same interest in the business as though they were there. This has often meant a great deal to me. We are often called away to help out with special meetings, conventions, etc. How comforting it is at such times to know that we have a partner watching over each little flock. Men who have the same deep concern for that flock as we have. Again, I say, it is hard to find words to express just how much this means to us.
Paul not only spoke of Philemon as a fellow laborer and a partner, he also spoke of him as a brother. This speaks of a closer relationship still, a personal feeling, something deep-down inside that makes one care for you. I am very glad that this same relationship, this same care, still exists between God's servants and elders.
I look upon my privilege of being in the work as the greatest privilege God could give to a man. You can look upon your privilege of being an elder, as a god-given privilege, too. Both these privileges, however, are accompanied by a great responsibility. When you turn to Acts 20:28, you realize a little better how great that responsibility is. This was part of Paul's last visit with the elders of Ephesus. This verse speaks of the " church of God, which He hath purchased with His Own Blood." A blood-bought group of people, the most precious souls in the world. And to think that God has entrusted to us the great responsibility of feeding and caring for them! This is a wonderful privilege, with a tremendous responsibility.
A great deal is mentioned about the qualifications of a servant of God. You read of them in the scriptures, you hear them often mentioned in Gospel Meetings and other meetings. There is also a great deal in the Bible mentioned about the qualifications of elders. We would encourage you to read, often, 1 Timothy 3. Also Titus1:5-9. Both these passages contain a list of qualities that every elder should possess. It is in Titus 1:5-7, where we are told that an elder and a bishop are the same. The word bishop, which means an overseer, is really the word that describes the position. They were also referred to as elders, though, because they were chosen from among the older ones.
Paul told Timothy not to appoint a novice, 1 Timothy 3:6, lest he be lifted up with pride. If one who is new in the faith, was appointed to fill the place of a bishop, he might get the wrong idea. He might think that he is being given a high office and he could be lifted up with pride over it. To older ones, though it is just the opposite effect. It humbles them to the dust. They realize the seriousness of their calling. To think that God has actually entrusted to them the care of such a precious group! To an honest heart, this is very humbling. That is why the bishops were to be chosen from the elders, or the older ones.
Some time ago, one of our brothers gave us an acrostic to the word bishop. He mentioned that if a man is a good bishop, he will be a:
B - Brother
I - Instructor
S - Servant
H - Helper
O - Overseer
P - Protector
A brother is one who can be easily approached. This is so vital. I do not know of anything more important than to be the one that others can feel free to come to for advice and encouragement. We feel so much the need of this quality as workers. Nothing would hurt me more than to know that someone was afraid to come to me with their problem. This is one of the reasons that Jesus forbade His ministers to take a title. Those titles belong to the Father and Christ, "Ye are brethren". You read of this in Matthew 23:8. Jesus knew that if these men began to take titles, it would automatically place them on a pedestal. He was not sending them out as dignitaries. He was sending them out to be brethren, men who could easily be approached. It is also important to be an "Instructor," one who is instructed in the Word and who is in a position to give Godly instruction to others.
Then comes the thought of a "Servant". In God's way, we rule by serving. There is a definite order of God's plan and when this is followed, you need no organization. According to God's order, the church is subject to the bishop, the bishop is subject to the ministry, the ministry is subject to Christ, and Christ is subject to God. When that order is followed, you need no organization. I realize that that, as a worker, it is only through service that I can hope to command the respect of the bishop. It is only through your willingness to serve that you as a bishop, can hope to command the respect of the flock you are in charge of. Jesus said, "I am among you as He that serveth".
The letter 'H' speaks of a helper, one who is ready, at all times, to lend a helping hand. 'O' stands for overseer. You might also think of overcomer. We cannot help others, unless we ourselves are overcomers. Last, but not least, there is the protector. The flock cannot protect themselves. One feels so responsible in this. We can't afford to lose any of these precious souls, over which the Holy Ghost has made us overseers. So, a bishop should be a brother, an instructor, a servant, a helper, an overseer and a protector.
We might also notice what Peter mentioned about the elders. You will find this in 1 Peter 5:1-4. Peter included himself in these verses among the elders. He was an older worker upon whose shoulders the care and responsibility of many was resting. His main message was: "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but by being ensamples to the flock". We could not hope to help God's people by lording over them. There may be times when one has to exercise their responsibility, but those times are rare and our main hope of helping others is by our ensample. It is so often true, that the spiritual health of a little flock is determined by the health of the elder. There is so much more to do, besides giving out the hymns in a meeting. That is why we are so deeply grateful to God for the men who are proving to be real bishops, or elders.
Notice the word 'ensamples'. There is a difference between an “ensample” and an “example.” An example is an original copy. An ensample is a duplicate copy of the original. In making blueprints, for an illustration, the architect draws out the original copy. This is the example. They might make 50 (prints) reprints of it, but they are called ensamples. They are copies of the original. In our fellowship we have only one perfect example, that is Christ. We uphold Him in all things. However, when we allow God to conform us to the image of Christ, then we become reprints of that original -- or ensamples. Like Paul was able to say in 1 Cor. 11:1, "Be ye followers of me, even as I am of Christ".
There are a great many ways in which one can be an ensample to the flock. Peter spoke of one of them, in verse 2, of this 5th chapter: "Feed the flock of God". Each year we realize more fully that the shorter testimonies carry the most food. We were told, at a recent special meeting, that it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. That represents a lot of boiling down. We might enjoy many things from the scriptures, during the week, but it takes a great deal of boiling down before it can be "real food" for others. Did you ever notice what is said of Asher, Genesis 49:20 "Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties". Royal dainties are condensed. They are rich, and nourishing, and you enjoy every bit of them. I have known men, whose testimonies were like that, and you found yourself eagerly looking forward to hearing them each time.
We can also be an ensample in prayer. Prayers play such a vital part in the meeting. I have been in some meetings where I felt that the prayers had been more of a detriment than a help. In other meetings, you feel that it was a period of prayer that made the meeting so helpful. Do you ever prepare a prayer in your heart before coming to the meeting? We would not think of standing up and giving our testimony without some forethought, would we? Why then should we attempt to pray without a little premeditation. This is scriptural.
You read of those who prepared their hearts to seek the Lord God in 11 Chron. 19:3. "Pour out your heart before Him," Psalm 62:8. When you pray, do you pour out your heart...or do you pour out whatever comes into your mind? I have found that when I take time to prepare in my heart something before the meeting, it is so much easier for me to pray in the meeting. I like to think of something special that I am desirous of, or thankful for. Something that I did not pray for in the last few meetings. To pray briefly and originally in a meeting is to pray helpfully. It saves us from the tendency of “vain repetitions”.
One thing I have learned from the prayers of Jesus is that He always prayed specifically. He never prayed at random. You will notice this in Luke 10:21 also in John 11:41-42. No doubt Jesus had a multitude of things he could have thanked God for on each of these occasions. He didn't though. He prayed specifically for the thing relative to the occasion. This secret has been a great help to me, especially in my private praying. When we return thanks for the food, it should be for the food. When we pray for the meeting, it should be for the meeting. When we give thanks for the bread and wine, it should be for the bread and wine. I have known some who have missed the mark entirely by simply praying the same routine prayer for every occasion. I would like to learn to pray specifically like Jesus did. If we, as workers and elders, learn to pray this way, we would be a wonderful ensample for the little flock to follow after.
Another thing about prayer: There seems to be a common tendency for many to subdue their voices while praying in the meeting. There is another scriptural about that. So often the person praying can only be heard by the few nearest to them. Often the older folks have complained that the can only hear a small part of the prayers. That is too bad. Those old souls need encouragement and the stimulant of your prayers. If any thing, one should raise their voice while praying, at least loud enough so that all can easily hear and be edified and join in with a hearty "amen" too. This is another way in which we can be an ensample.
Maybe we should mention something about the "amen" too. This is something we have been very reluctant about because the holiness people have overdone it. In trying to be as unlike them as we can, we have sometimes transgressed the other way. To me there is something very helpful about a modest “amen” after each prayer and testimony. One of the things we remember so well about our brother Jack Carroll was the encouragement he gave us younger workers along that line. When we would be speaking in a meeting, trembling and often stuttering, there was something about the “amen” from that older man that would refresh the heart in us. I never want to forget what that meant to me. It is not easy for most of the Lord's people to pray and testify. An audible “amen” when they finish will assure them that you have fully appreciated their effort and that you have been helped by what they said. If we are faithful in doing this, the others will be encouraged to follow and it will add a great deal to the helpfulness of the meeting.
Some have asked about a problem they have in connection with praying for the bread and wine. Often this falls on the shoulders of one or two in the meeting. These emblems are something we should all be very thankful for, and we should all relish the privilege of taking our turn in expressing thanks. If there is a tendency in our flock for most to leave this up to one or two each Sunday, it would be very good to call on some of the others by name. It might be helpful to do this meeting after meeting until a number have been called upon. It would help all to realize their responsibility along this line.
There is the endless visiting that also goes with the responsibility of an elder. The flock needs so much visiting. The sick ones, the discouraged ones, the careless ones. They could easily lose out if we did not keep in touch with them. Probably we fail along this line more than any other. We realize that the elder cannot keep up with all the visiting. Others in the flock should share the task. It is up to the elder though, to see to it that someone does make the necessary visits when those visits are needed. A little personal interest like that between meetings often goes a long way towards encouraging those who may be weary. We can't afford to lose any of them. They are too precious.
In closing, I would like to mention something about the neighbors. I have become very neighbor-conscious. We want every little meeting to be a light in the community, not an aggravation. The way in which the cars are parked, the way in which the children conduct themselves after the meetings, avoiding any undue excitement. We cannot be too careful about these things. We wouldn't want anything in connection with the meetings to irritate or distress the neighbors in any way. Like the golden candlestick, giving forth its light, each little group of God's people should add a golden glow to the community.
The main purpose of a meeting like this is to help the Elders among us know how much they are appreciated, and what a valuable place they fill in this fellowship. The further on I go, the more I thank God that in his all-perfect way, he planned that there would be Elders. I don't suppose you know how much peace you bring to our minds, or how much of the load you take from off our shoulders. We are so glad that God has planned it to be that way. I might mention before we go further, that this is the only group of people in the world where this relationship exists between the ministers and the Elders and the saints. There are groups of people in the religious world and in the business world and the financial world that have a working relationship, but they know nothing about the meaning of the word 'fellowship'. This is the only group of people in the world where the Lord's servants, and the Elders and the Lord's people can work together in such a harmonious way.
I like the way in which Paul wrote in Philemon, verses 1, 17, and 20. Philemon was the Elder at Colosse and the church met in his home. Paul spoke of him as a fellow-laborer. Then he referred to him as a partner, and then he referred to him as a brother. As far as I know, this is the only time in the Scripture where an Elder is referred to as a 'fellow laborer'. This Elder, Philemon, had his heart so much in the Work of the gospel that he was doing everything he could to help Paul with his load and with his activities. He was as much help to Paul as any of the fellow laborers were. Then he referred to him as a 'partner'. Partners share and share alike. They are equal partners in the business. When one is away, they do not worry about the business because they know the other is looking after their interests the same as they would if they were present. I do not think you can understand how much it means to us, especially when we are on the other side of the sea, and we cannot be there with the little flocks as we would like to be. You cannot know how much it means to us to know we have a 'partner' who is watching out for the flock just as though we were there.
There are three chapters of, Scripture that Elders and their wives should often read together. We would encourage you, to read together and to pray together. We do this as workers. These three chapters, are I Timothy 3, Titus 1 and I Peter 5. These chapters explain in detail the qualifications of the Elder and they explain in detail the responsibilities Elder's wife.
We are glad to see so many young couples with us in the meeting tonight. We have often encouraged the young married couples to read together these chapters and pray that God will work into their young lives the qualities that would prepare them so that if an Elder should pass away, they would be qualified to fill the vacancy. That happened over on the coast. A very worthy Elder, passed away. The church had prospered under his care. There was a young couple in that meeting probably in their early thirties. They had been in a convention meeting couple of years before this when we had encouraged our young, couples to read often these chapters together. This young couple had done this and when an Elder was needed to fill, the gap, they were qualified. I am, glad to tell you this little church is prospering under the direction of this new Elder even as it had before.
The church missed that old Elder, naturally. They had relied on him as a father. We are relying on you. You are the next generation. There are Elders among us that possibly will not be with us another year. You would be surprised to know the number of the Elders that have passed away within the last two years. We hope that these chapters will be as much of a stimulus to you, who are younger, as they are to those who are older and filling the place of an Elder in the flock today. There is nothing wrong with a person's wanting to be an Elder or their desire to fill the office of a deacon, and if a young person has this desire it is a godly desire.
In Titus 1, the terms 'Elder' and 'bishop' are used synonymously. We usually think of the one taking charge of the meeting when the Workers are away, as the ‘Elder' because he is chosen from among the older ones. In I Timothy 3:6 we are reminded that you would not give a novice this responsibility. They might not realize the seriousness of it. They might be filled with pride. You would make sure that they understood the seriousness of the responsibility that is given to them. Paul used the words ‘bishops’ and 'Elders' interchangeably. The word, 'bishop,'’ means an ‘overseer'.
In the first chapter of Philippians, Paul also referred to the “deacons,” as well as the Elder. We are often asked what is the responsibility of the deacon? He was the one who took charge of the meeting when the Elder was not there. We like to follow the same pattern today. We like someone appointed to lead the meeting when the Elder is not there. That way there is no confusion. We found out one time that when an Elder was away his wife would ask some man in the meeting to lead the meeting. You would know that such was out of order. If for some reason you need to be away from your little flock, and you do not have someone to take your place, let us know so that the meeting can be directed as the Lord intended.
In the New, Testament days, there was more work involved than there is today because the church was responsible for the widows and the needy. There was no social security, benefits or other provision made and that is why the deacons were given this responsibility. That is what Paul was talking about when he said, "Let not a widow be taken into the number under three score years, well reported of for good works, etc."
We had a woman come to us in a state of panic, and she asked, "Does that mean I cannot be taken into full fellowship until I am sixty?" Paul was referring to the widows whose care was resting upon the church. We do not have that care today, but there is another part of an Elder's responsibility which is equally as important. That is to see that the flock is visited. We have an Elder in Portland who would often call one younger couple in the meeting and say, "We have someone in the hospital, or there is someone in the meeting and something seems to be wrong with them, or someone else in the meeting last Sunday was shedding tears." He would see that they were visited. No one missed a meeting twice but what they were visited. No one was in the hospital but what they were visited. This is a very important part because we as workers cannot always be there. We never like to see a little old widow neglected or left alone, or anyone in a nursing home that is not visited. If there is a visit that you cannot make, you just call up the one appointed to help you and ask them to make the visit.
In I Peter 5:2, Peter exhorted the Elders to "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock". One of the first things Peter said was "feed". Sometimes the Lord's people get a little careless and they do not study as they should. Consequently, they do not have any bread to bring to the meeting. Therefore, a special responsibility rests on the shoulders of the Elders to see to it that there is bread for the meeting. Peter than added, "Taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint". Don't take the attitude, this is my obligation, but do it willingly. Let them know that you count it a privilege. “Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but by being ensamples to the flock.” Don't be a lord over the little flock, just live before them what they should be. One way that people lord it over others is by instruction, saying, "don't do this, or don't do that". The greatest effect that any of us have over our brethren is the power of a good example. Paul said in another place that he wanted to live so that others would be provoked to emulation, or to be like him and to have what he had. When we take heed to ourselves as we should, that makes us an ensample, which is much better than a lecture. The word 'ensample' which is used here is different from the word 'example'.
The word 'example' refers to the original, and the word 'ensample' refers to a copy of the original. We all recognize that we only have one example in this fellowship, and that is Christ. But, we can allow the Lord to so work in our lives the virtues of Christ so that like Paul said: "You follow me even as I follow Christ". In the building profession the architect draws up the original plans. Those plans are called the example. The builders may make a number of copies of it so that the plumbers can have one and the electricians one, etc. These are called 'ensamples'. They are all copies of that architect's original drawing. I was talking to one of our friends one day who is an architect. He said the original drawing was kept in a safe. No one sees it, but it is kept there for safe keeping. The people working on the job never see the original but they know what it is like because they are working from an exact copy. Christ, our original example, is now in Heaven. No one sees him, but as we are conformed to the image of Christ, they can tell what he is like by what they see in us. That is the way that God intended it to be. When we are that kind of an ensample it is easy for the flock to have something that they can safely follow.
When we think of Jesus as our example, we think of him in his example in prayer. Jesus prayed his long prayers in private. He prayed his short prayers in public. That is a good example for us also to follow. Jesus spent all night in prayer to God, but in public he prayed briefly. He prayed one time: "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always." That doesn't sound like much of a prayer, but that is what he was thankful for at the time. He was so thankful that God heard him every time he cried in distress. It would be good for us to condense our prayers in the meeting so that everyone in the meeting will have time for their part. I knew of a home in Spokane. When the Elder and his wife purchased that home, the older workers arranged for the church to remain in the home as it had been. One of the first concerns that this Elder and his wife had was that although there were about 40 in that meeting, just a few took up all the time praying, and others took up all the time testifying. There were many in the meeting that never had a chance to take part. The Elder said to his wife, "We won't say anything about this. We will just set an example for them". So when they prayed, they prayed very briefly but very effectively, and when they testified, they testified very briefly but with real bread in it. It wasn't long until others began to follow their ensample, and it wasn't long until all 40 were taking part in both prayer and testimony, and the meeting was over well within the limit of time. That is what Peter encouraged the Elders to do. Set the right example before the flock just like Jesus did in his day. That is what will make you an ensample to the flock.
There is another thing that the Scripture teaches us to do and that is to meditate on our prayers before the meeting just as we meditate on our testimonies. If a person goes to a meeting with something definite in our hearts to thank God for and something definite to testify about, you have a real godly effect then upon the others in the meeting. It is nice to just pause before the meeting to ask yourself the question, "What am I the most thankful for, and what do I feel the most in need of?" With that in our heart, it helps us to pray briefly, originally and effectively each time.
I would like to mention another thing about this matter of prayer and testimony in the meeting. When you pray in a meeting, make sure that your voice is loud and clear enough so that everyone in the room can hear you. There seems to be a feeling that often creeps in among us that we should modify our voice when we pray. There is nothing in the Scripture that suggests that. I often feel badly when someone prays or testifies in a low voice and half of the people in the meeting fail to get the benefit of what is being said. My hearing is not as keen as it used to be, but I still hear better in the meeting than most of the folks who are there. I know that when I cannot catch all that is said, the older people in the meeting are not getting it either. They are the ones who need it. They are living in the final trials of life and they need all the help they can get out of the meeting. Paul said, "Consider one another". This is one way in which we can be considerate. You do not need to shout, but you can speak loud enough so that all in the meeting can get the full benefit of what you are praying and testifying about.
There is something else I wish we could do something about. It is this matter of saying "amen" following the prayers and testimonies. They do this in most of the countries. After a brother gives his testimony it is good to hear a little "amen" to assure that person that their testimony was helpful. A man from New Zealand was in a meeting of ours not long ago. After the meeting, with tears in his eyes, he asked the Elder what he said wrong in his testimony. The Elder said there was nothing wrong with what he had to say. This man replied, "No one said 'amen' after I finished speaking, and I felt that my testimony was not in order." Just a little 'amen' shows we appreciate what they have shared. It is a little word of encouragement when a person says 'amen'. It is just saying, "I heartily endorse what you have said." It makes me feel good when I hear someone say a little 'amen' after my part. This is a little thing that Elders and their wives can be an example to the flock in. These are things that helped in the New Testament fellowship and they still do today. I hope we will all feel responsible to make every meeting what it should be.
There is another part of the meeting that we feel is very important. It is the part where we partake of the bread and wine. I suppose you all understand that it is nice to have the emblems in the center of the room when this can be arranged, just to remind everyone that Christ is the center of this meeting. We do not want to make a great formality of this. One older worker said, "We could be so taken up with the formality that we would miss the reality of what the bread and wine is intended to mean." It is nice when each one recognizes that they have the privilege of expressing thanks for either the bread or the wine in the meeting. In this way, no one or two would feel responsible each time. We would like anyone in the meeting, who has an understanding, to feel free to express their thanks for the communion.
What are we going to do with what is left over after all have partaken? I remember one time asking an older brother about this. His reply was there are no rules or no law about how the emblems are disposed of. In the Old Testament Passover Feast, which was a forerunner of our fellowship meeting, if there was anything left over it was burnt with fire. And, if there was anything left over of the drink offering it was poured out on the ground. It would be nice if what is left over from the communion could be disposed of in this way. This is not a ruling, but it is a respectable way to take care of the disposal of the emblems. If there is anything left of the bread it is good to burn it with fire. If there is anything left of the wine it is good to pour it upon the ground. In some places in city life this cannot be done. We tell them it is not mandatory, but I think if there is any left over, it is good to do so if it is possible. It is sacred to us in that it has reminded us again of the life and death of Christ who has made all of this possible.
These three chapters explain the ideal for the Elder and his wife. I certainly would encourage every Elder and his wife to read them together frequently. We would also encourage every young couple to read these chapters together and pray that the Lord will work into your lives the qualifications that would enable you to some day fill that place. We certainly would encourage every young couple to pray together and study together, just as we do. This will keep your home united and it will help you to keep the spirit and atmosphere in the home as it should be. We would like you to prepare yourselves so that if an old Elder should pass away you would be ready to step in and fill the gap. It is not that you are looking for a place of recognition, but that you see the privilege of looking after the little flock, and you have made yourselves ready to step into that privilege.
If you would like, please read from time to time Acts 20:28: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost bath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he bath purchased with his own blood." This helps us all very much to take heed to ourselves. Just make sure that you are an ensample. Just make sure that you are doing the right thing before that little flock so that everybody in the church would like to have the same spirit that you have and possess the same example that you have. The greatest power that anyone can have is the power of example. Just live as close to Christ as you can. He is our example in everything. It is interesting to notice as we read the gospels over, the many things that Jesus did just to leave an example so that we would know how to handle each situation that we might face.
We would like to tell you again how much you mean to us. Not only when we are on the other side of the sea, but also when we are in other parts of the field. It is comforting to know that we have partners that are watching over the flock, and that we have fellow laborers who are helping to carry the load. This is the only group of people in the world where the Elders and the ministry and the people are pulling together. This is possible because we are having fellowship with the Lord himself, and when we are having fellowship with him we are all enjoying fellowship with one another.
In Philemon, verse 1 he is called a fellow laborer, in verse 17 he is called a partner and in verses 16 and 20 he is called a brother, yet he is an elder. Laborer, the ministry and elder working together; partner, each sharing in loss and gain; brother, a close relationship as love holds the family together.
Elder's Meeting scriptural? See Acts 20:28-31. Take heed to self first. Then take heed to flock. Holy Ghost makes the elder. Feed the church of God. Be a feeder. All are purchased by blood of God through Jesus Christ. To speak against another is terrible as they are purchased by the blood of Christ.
Qualifications of elder or bishop can be found in 1 Tim.3; Titus 1; 1 Pet.5.
1. How are meetings held? There is an order (which we follow). Lift your voice up so others can hear and enter into our prayers and testimonies.
2. Spirit of meeting more important than mechanics. Yes, spirit very important. It is a must in the meeting.
3. Who chooses hymns? Anyone professing may choose hymns. Possibly children may choose, but should be checked through their parents. Elders could also select certain people to choose hymns. Do not get into a rut. There are some who choose hymns very often.
4. Length of meeting? Ex.12:11. Long testimonies put a damper on a meeting. (Stand up to be seen; speak out to be heard; sit down to be appreciated.)
5. Better to have elder to talk to those who are long, etc.
6. Illness: Then have workers tell where or what they aught to do. There should be the back-up man first, though.
7. Unprofessing people taking care of home while elder gone? Then possible to scatter, but LET THE WORKERS KNOW!
8. When cup is passed and one does not partake, then elder is to bring the cup back to that person. He should partake of it before taking it back though.
9. If strife between members? 1 Cor. May be sometimes better to go to workers.
10. Being late? This usually a habit so no matter what time meeting is to start they would still be the late ones. This is a personal matter that should be taken care of by the individuals.
11. If elder cannot be in meeting and no one around, what guidelines? This was already answered.
12. Notify elder if we will not be there or if we are bringing someone. CALL!
13. If worker conducting meeting should elder say "Amen" audibly? Yes. He can also say "Amen" after each testimony.
14. Strangers in Fellowship Meeting? 1 Cor.14:23-25. Strangers may attend, but best if they go to Gospel Meeting first. They can go to the Fellowship Meeting because the spirit may speak to them.
15. When inviting anyone ask them as an observer and not to be taking part.
16. If someone moves into town and comes to meeting (or calls about where meeting is being held) give directions to closest Sunday and Wednesday meeting to them and then tell them when the workers are back in area they may change them as they like to keep the meetings balanced.
17. Uncovered emblems? Uncover the emblems before singing the hymn preceding passing the bread. Remain in seats until he returns with or without announcements.
18. Go ahead and uncover emblems when workers have meeting. No need to feel awkward. Lu.22:17 is reference to the first cup.
19. Lu.22:19-20 is where Jesus instituted the bread and wine. This last supper was the night before the Passover as Jesus knew he would be killed at the time of the killing of the Passover lamb. Col. 2:14 "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances..." He drank the first cup to blot out the Old Testament covenant and brought it to a close. The second cup introduced the bread and cup of the New Testament--our emblems as we have them today. To Sydney the bread signifies "I am willing," and the cup signifies "I'm sorry, but very thankful for Jesus dying for us."
(Sydney recommended we each read about the crucifixion in the various places in the Bible, or to even read a hymn that refers to Jesus' crucifixion either Saturday night or Sunday morning.)
Also, no cracked wheat should be used for the bread. There should be no whole grain in it as the life of Jesus was crushed. (At Ronan I heard that a grain of wheat in a slice of bread could say "I am in the bread" but if there is none it could say "I am of the bread.")
20. Have emblems in the room before the meeting. Be reverent!
21. Who should pray for the emblems? Anyone who is baptized and is taking part. The elder may select anyone to do it.
22. Don't just take a tiny bit of bread. Take a portion.
23. Elders should pass the emblems and not pass anyone up for any reason. 1 Cor. 11:28-32.
24. Each individual decides if he/she is worthy or not.
25. Should elder take emblems last? He should partake before passing to those who did not partake.
26. If heart is hard then taking emblems is wrong. AIDS? They should always be last.
27. Wine in some countries and grape juice here? Both are "fruit of the vine."
28. How dispose of bread of wine? In Old Testament it was to be burned and the blood was to be poured on the ground and covered with dust. Same today.
29. Wait until emblems out of room before gathering up books.
30. How promptly should we leave after the meeting? Greet everyone and then leave. Don't tarry.
31. Sprinkling of blood? In Old Testament it was all "types" and "shadows". Lev.16. Number seven is God's number--perfect redemption.
32. John 1:18. "No man hath seen God at any time..."
33. Giving to charities? This is a personal thing. Give according to the need that you see and according to your own personal feelings.
34. Last Days? That is the time from when Jesus died and when he will be coming back again. Just be ready.
35. Sabbath? Col. 2:16-17. Shadow is never real thing. It just points to real thing. Heb. 4 tells us what this shadow is. We are following the real thing, Jesus Christ, when we cease from our own works.
36. Number 5? This represented the human effort perfected with divine strength. Five loaves feeding 5,000, etc.
37. Millennium reign? Read Matt. 24 and 25. Just be ready. Watch and pray. Also read Rev. 20. All the faithful who died in Christ and those faithful when he returns will be partaking of the "Feast of the Bridegroom" while Satan is flourishing. Judgment Day would still be coming up as we all leave either a good or evil influence behind which adds to our record for that day.
Our purpose in planning these gatherings and in sending this summary home with you is that the little meetings you attend Sunday and Wednesday could be as helpful as possible. We have appreciated the meetings in this field. Many times we have felt we have received so much when we have taken so little. There is always a possibility that our meetings could be more rich and more inspirational. This is our aim.
We need the meetings. The statement was made at our conventions, "Maybe we don't realize how much the little meetings have to do with our preservation. Few or maybe none could survive without the meetings except it be circumstances beyond our control that cut us off." We also heard, "How we spend the Lord's day has a lot to do with our prosperity." When you feel the effort is too great to go to meeting, think of how you would feel if you couldn't go to meeting. Week after week...and no possibility of going to meeting. May God help us to appreciate the meeting.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:28 "For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." When Jesus returns, God's people will be drawn to Him as the eagles are drawn to a carcase. Each Sunday morning, God wants to draw us to the resurrected Christ. If we are faithful in being drawn each Sunday morning, we'll be, can we say, "practicing", to respond to the "drawing" when Jesus returns.
Maybe it would be appropriate to mention now that how we spend Saturday evening is important. It was good for me to realize recently that Saturday night is special because from about 5:00 our time Saturday evening, fellow Christians around the world begin to meet. For the sake of unity of God's people around the world, it would be commendable if our activities Saturday evening didn't detract from their worship service.
It contributes to the helpfulness of the meeting if there is quietness before the meeting. Therefore, it has been suggested that we be in our place at least 10 minutes before the meeting is to begin. Being in the meeting place at 10:20 makes it possible for you to sit quietly and reverently while our friends in the time zone to the east break bread. Thus we can add to the helpfulness of their meeting and again strengthen unity. Our friends to the west, when they gather, can do the same for us.
We want to mention attendance. The first testimony you give in the meeting is when you walk into that meeting. If you come regularly, your presence says, "This way of God means everything to me." If you don't come regularly, you're saying "This doesn't mean very much to me." You edify your brethren by first of all being in your place in the meeting. Sometimes our friends feel it isn't necessary to attend Wednesday night meetings regularly . We understand that there is shift work, human limitations, etc., but we do want to encourage you to be as regular as is at all possible. Often we fear because so many tendencies seem to be "contagious". If you don't attend, then someone else feels it isn't necessary for him to attend. Is this an area where you can sacrifice your time and your strength, your natural aspirations & later receive blessing?
When it is not possible to be at the meeting, it is "meeting courtesy" to phone and let the elder or the one in whose home you are meeting, know that you won't be able to attend. This applies to both Sunday and Wednesday meetings. There is often a lot of effort put into setting up the meeting room--especially if the meeting is a large one--and knowing who is going to be there is more helpful than most of us understand. When we're in a meeting and someone doesn't come, and we haven't heard why, we find it a battle to keep from thinking "I wonder what's happened"? Knowing puts our minds at ease. I'm sure the elders of the meetings have the same experience. Letting the elder know would also apply if you have extra company to bring along.
The purpose of our meeting is to worship. One meaning of worship is "our whole being going out to God". The chorus of hymn number 243 describe: "worship". "Gladly yielding all, moved by love divine." We come to meeting to give ourselves again because of the love and gratitude in our hearts.
You know that it is good to try to aim to keep the meeting within the hour. We don't want to lose the spirit of the meeting in an attempt to keep it within the hour, but neither do we want to lose the helpfulness that can come from "bringing the kernel". Little children and parents find it difficult if the meeting gets long. Some older folks in lodges may miss their dinner if the meeting gets long.
One cause of long meetings is long prayers. If someone in the meeting has already prayed for those who are not there, we need not repeat that petition because we have already added our "Amen" to their petition. The prayer time in meeting rises up to God as one continuous prayer all our prayers blending into one, so there is no need to repeat. Some of our older brothers have encouraged us to prepare for our part in prayer the way we prepare for our part in testimony. The suggestion was made that we think of something we are especially thankful for that week and something we especially need that week, and utter these two things in our prayer in the meeting. Most of our meetings in the city presently are large and because of this even more effort is needed to ensure brevity. If the prayers are long, it is almost impossible to keep the meeting from being long. In the size of our meetings presently, a prayer of two or three petitions is appropriate.
Our experience has been that long testimonies take away from the meeting. The reading of many verses can be the cause of long testimonies. Pauses between testimonies makes a meeting longer, and also has a "deadening" effect. The most important testimony in the meeting is Jesus' testimony--in the bread and wine. Therefore it is only respectful to allow 10 minutes for that part of the meeting - so it need not be rushed.
We will be all our lives learning the greatness and the significance of the breaking of bread. It is good to remember this part of the meeting when we prepare for the meeting. We could do that by reading a chapter (i.e. I Cor. 11:17-34) that is applicable, and by examining ourselves. I Cor. 11:29 is a very good verse. If we don't discern the Lord's body, we partake unworthily. If we do discern the Lord's body, we partake worthily. One meaning of discern is "to see as distinct from other objects". If we get a vision of the standard in Christ, if we compare ourselves to the standard, if we make a genuine effort in following that standard - then we partake worthily.
We were told at convention that Jesus established the Fellowship Meeting on the last night of His life under the shadow of the cross in the travail of His soul. May we make the effort that Jesus made in the interest of the Fellowship Meeting. We hope these few suggestions will be profitable to you and your meeting. Try and read them from time to time so they can be kept in mind.
Don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together on the first day of the week.
Don't come too early and talk on unprofitable subjects and so unfit yourself for helping in the meetings.
Don't come too late; this always hinders.
Don't have too long a meeting. Good mtgs. are often held within the hour.
Don't pray too long in the meeting. Long prayers are for the secret place. Pray in such a way that all may hear and be edified.
Don't preach too long; it is not the multitude of words that counts with God or man. Short messages are more helpful. Say much in a few words.
Don't read to o much; reading much in mtgs. is often a proof of reading little at home. T o comment on a few verses that have spoken to you is the best.
Don't ask questions in meetings.
Don't s peak more than once in meeting; if after you have sat down you remember things you have left out, wait until another time to speak.
Don't be looking at your own little sermon while others are trying to speak; listen attentively. You can make it very hard for others or very easy. Be a sympathetic listener.
Don't have long pauses between testimonies; make up your mind that as far as you're concerned there will be no long pauses.
Don't have meeting where children are not under control.
Don't allow the phone to ring during meeting.
Don't keep a dog that will bark at everything.
Don’t forget that you are responsible for trying to get others saved.
Don't freeze out strangers; give them a hearty welcome.
Don't preach or pra y at them. Conduct your meeting as if no strangers were present.
Don't be afraid to love one another heartily.
Read 1 Cor. 1 often.
Don't forget these hints.