August 2017 E-news from the Siburt Institute

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Elders and Ministers: Working and Praying Together

Earlier this year, the Barna Group published a major report on the status of ministers.1 The report is full of great information, challenging insights and valuable data to help congregational leadership teams support and empower their ministers. One section focused on elder-minister relationships.

Most ministers reported positive perceptions of the relationship between themselves and elder teams. However, several other indicators suggest some critical weaknesses. Namely, only 44 percent of those surveyed noted the relationship between elders and ministers is a “powerful” one, and only 34 percent said that they engage in “frequent prayer together.”

If only one in three ministers can say they pray regularly with elders, and only four in 10 have solid relationships with their elders, it is no small wonder many churches are in decline or are struggling with mission and the future.

The Barna report cites a research project in Scotland highlighting this point. There, researchers discovered that churches whose members pray missionally and make prayer an integral part of their mission are more likely to be growing churches. Indeed, the leading difference in this particular survey between growing churches and those that are flat or declining is praying specifically “for the challenges of living faithfully in a post-Christian culture.”2

Additionally, larger churches (250 members or more) are twice as likely as smaller churches to have a strong partnership between elders and ministers. Likewise, ministers are much less likely to burn out in contexts in which ministers and elders are working well together, ministers are truly appreciated by elders and there is clear decision-making authority

All of these factors suggest how critical it is for ministers and elders to work together and to spend a great deal of time in prayer. What steps might you take in your congregation to foster strong and prayerful relationships among your elders and ministers?


[1] The State of Pastors: How Today’s Faith Leaders are Navigating Life and Leadership in an Age of Complexity. Barna, 2017.
[2] Ibid., 70.


Church leadership and a crazy ostrich

A recent encounter with an aggressive ostrich led Steve Ridgell, an elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas, to reflect on church leadership. In his CHARIS post, he writes that this bird reminded him “that I am never really in charge, that people are messy, and that this world is not my reality.” Ridgell also is director of ministry with Hope for Life, a Herald of Truth Ministry, and author of Can I Tell You a Story?

Does starting a Christian school fit the mission of your congregation?

The National Christian School Association (NCSA), an educational organization comprised of more than 120 secondary schools affiliated with the Churches of Christ, invites congregational leaders to explore the feasibility of their churches planting or housing Christian private schools. A school might be a wholly managed ministry (discipleship, community outreach, etc.) or a rent-paying tenant of the church.

“Both models – a church-owned school or a tenant school – have a place in our communities and are valuable to both church mission and school vision,” said NCSA president Kelly Moore (pictured at right). “Over the years, we have witnessed congregations experience positive impact on mission advancement, as well as financial stability.” The association supports and accredits Christian schools across the United States, stressing academic excellence in a Christ-centered environment. To learn more, visit or email

Countdown to Summit 2017; app and music are live

Summit 2017 is almost here! The Summit team has once again brought together an exciting variety of speakers, topics and events, including the first Summit Film Festival. You can get all the details by accessing the newly updated ACU Summit app. If you downloaded the app in 2016 and kept it on your mobile device, the updates should have posted already. If you don’t have it or did not receive the updates, you may download it for free in the Apple store or Google Play. Program booklets will be available at the event. In the meantime, you can view the Summit 2017 programming information online.

Among so many great offerings, the Summit Team is excited to amplify the sounds of United Voice Worship (UVM). An a cappella singing group with members from across Texas, UVW is dedicated to honoring Jesus Christ by promoting intentional dialogue among people of different backgrounds. UVW will be leading worship on Monday at Summit and will offer a mini-concert before the evening theme session in Cullen and then an expanded concert following the session.

Summit will take place Sept. 17-20 on ACU’s campus and explore the theme Ancient Scripture, Future Church: The Choices We Make and the God We Serve. For more information and/or to register, visit the Summit website.



“Critical judgment does not change anyone or anything in the universe. If you dislike someone or react negatively toward a certain behavior, it does not change the person or the behavior you are judging. When you judge another critically, you do not define that person. You define yourself. Your harsh judgment says something about you. It describes your likes and dislikes. Accusation – “you, you, you” – is really about “me.” – Dr. Peter L. Steinke, Healthy Congregations: A Systems Approach

“So much of a pastor’s work involves feeding others, reaching out to their needs, giving of self, teaching, and sharing one’s time and energy in service to the church. Therefore the pastor needs friends. Friendship tends to be intrinsically valuable; it is engaged in for its own delight. In friendship, the pastor, who has so often been giving to others receives, and is nourished by others.” – Dr. William H. Willimon, Calling & Character: Virtues of the Ordained Life

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