Dearest Hope Family,
Celebrate with me the successful election of Nick Hansell and Shawn Wilson to the office of Deacon at Hope! Their approval was unanimous and represents both a finish line for a long process – made more complicated and longer because of the pandemic – and a launching pad for active service. The final, crucial step for both Nick and Shawn is to take their ordination vows and be formally installed as deacons in one of our upcoming worship services. But, for now, let’s be thankful for God’s provision and for these two brothers’ faithfulness.
As I mentioned briefly on Sunday during Life Together, one of the focal points for the Session for 2021 is developing and deepening leadership here at Hope. The incessant temptation for a church our size and with our riches of gifted, capable leadership is to lapse into a clericalism that views ministry as something the professionals, the pastors, the staff do and as something the congregation receives. Ephesians 4:11-12 calls out and overturns such a default mindset by reminding us that the gift of shepherds and teachers aims at the target of “equipping the saints for the work of ministry”. Which is to say, that rather than a passive, agency-less enterprise, the ministry of the church is a group project. In fact, one the most expedient and genius ways God has ordained for you to grow in your faith is practice, embodiment, doing stuff, and engagement – not only learning a bunch of truths about God and merely listening to sermons. We are eager to fulfill our calling to equip the saints for the works of ministry, to double down on developing and deepening leadership and service at Hope.
One avenue for cultivating leadership is the formal process of receiving nominations for the office of Deacon and Elder. We are officially opening up a season for the Session to receive the congregation’s nominations for these offices from January 15th to February 15th. One of our elders has developed a very clear and helpful guide to approaching and making a nomination for these offices, and I heartily commend it to you as you pray through and articulate some of these nominations. I would also like to add a few thoughts to his good work:
- Elders and deacons are usually “eldering” and “deaconing” before there is a formal nomination or title. People are most often actually engaged in some aspect of what we call them to be or do! So keep your eyes and ears open for who is already fulfilling the role without waiting for a formal recognition.
- Don’t be put off by apparent “bad timing”. There is tremendous value and merit in simply identifying, naming, and commending character and gifts even if the timing of taking on the formal office is not right.
- In the same vein, if the timing is not right for a candidate, the nomination is a great encouragement and incentive to keep on exercising and honing that character and those gifts informally until the time is right!
God has blessed us with a vibrant congregation, a generous and gifted congregation, and active and compassionate congregation. We long to receive those unique blessings and, in turn, be a blessing to this neighborhood, this city, this state, and this world. By nominating new leaders and deepen existing leadership, we have a new opportunity to marshal together those resources, to refine our character and skill, to focus our aim, and to minister the unsearchable riches of Christ to a world starved for authentic love, for fervent hope, for non-cynical, non-self-interested engagement, for renewed imagination, and the good news of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.
So please take some time to pray, to consider, to nominate during this season.
Peace of the Risen Savior,