At mgpc the elders meet formally twice a month. At one meeting we sit around a table and consider various administrative and strategic matters. It’s minuted and follows an agenda. The other meeting, the one which we added, takes place in our homes and involves a time of study, conversation about pastoral matters pertaining to ourselves and the congregation, and corporate prayer. We don’t keep minutes. I like the second meeting better. If the elders had to choose between one of the two meetings to attend, I’d recommend they not miss the pastoral meeting.
Here’s a piece from the blog Green Baggins</strong> which describes a similar model and the rationale behind it.
It commends a book which I may have to dig up.
I just finished reading (too long delayed, I know, I know) John Sittema’s wonderful book on the shepherd’s heart. One of the most interesting points he makes (and which convicted me no end) was his description of what elders’ meetings ought to model. He gave a description of a normal business-related model of session meetings (prayer, reading of minutes, old business, new business, reading of concept minutes, adjournment). He says that this should not be characteristic of most session meetings. Most session meetings should be about doing the ministry. His model involves training/study, pastoral consultation, and prayer (see pp. 233-234). Prayer, by the way, is not some adjunct to the ministry. Some people actually call prayer the work of ministry. Word and prayer constituted the work of the apostles (Acts 6). That’s why deacons became a reality. The elders did NOT want to do “business” of the church, if that meant administrative stuff. They wanted to devote themselves to word and prayer. Sittema argues that the session meetings should be a tool that helps equip the elders for the work of ministry. Most of the time, the meetings are seen AS the work of the ministry. Not so, according to Sittema! If some aspects of business are required to be examined, there should be a separate meeting for it. I was really excited, frankly, when I read this part. I am excited to start implementing this kind of idea.
What we need in churches today are elders that will be pastors, not business directors of the church that only define and govern the general direction of the church. There needs to be training in this area, and the session meetings are surely the place to do this.