Many of the regulars on the theology board know that I am in my second year of an administrative reorganization of our church board. Nearly two years ago we left the Trustee/Steward Model and moved to an Elder Deacon model.
On the whole this has been a very good move. However one of my biggest problems is getting the Elders to understand that they are Elders and not Super Deacons. They have a hard time seeing themselves as charged with the spiritual care of the congregation. (that is what I do)
(The deacons are loving the new system. It has some hiccups but on the whole is doing well)
When we got district approval for our new system Dave McClung was a member of the DAB and for legal reasons asked that I be clear in communicating that these elders were local elders not ordained Elders eligible for the denominational benefits. This seemed wise to me and I was going to make a clear distinction anyway.
What I am thinking about... Maybe we need to create a category of some sort of local Elder. I've been thinking about the word "Commissioned." I really need a way of elevating these folks understanding of their role and a way of increasing the level of awareness and spiritual authority in the congregation. I envision a yearly "commissioning" of our Elders for the upcoming year.
When they exercise the role of local elder they have been a huge help to me. I plan on doing more training this year which I think will help and not having to deal with the financial crises will help but I would really like to create a "space" in our congregational awareness.
What do you think? Can I make up titles? What would you do to help Elders understand they are Elders not Deacons?