I’ve never seen the Brethren in such a state of red alert. I would
often leave these conferences are deep in teaching and my heart warmed
by the devotions regarding the glory of Christ. This time I left with
all that and a convicting burden as well.
The conference consisted of 16 one hour seminars spread out over a
period of two days. We would only break for about seven to ten minutes
between sessions except for meals where we had a full forty-five to an
hour. Shepherding was the topic and we were exposed to Biblical
exhortation, outright admonishment and practical helps for doing the
Some of you might not know that the Brethren do not believe in a single
Pastor role in the local gathering. Nor do we believe in hiring a
Pastor to be in charge of the local teaching. From Scripture we see a
plurality of elders who are in charge of the spiritual feeding of the
flock (although they may not be the ones actually doing the feeding
they would be the ones directing what food is necessary, etc.) We see
that gifts are given to believers and that some among us in the local
gathering are equipped with the ability to teach the Word, or exhort
from the Word, etc.
So when we have a conference regarding shepherding, it’s focused at a
group of men (this was about ninety) who are either currently elders or
doing the work of an elder or wanting to get a better understanding of
the work of an elder—not so much Pastors.
Imagine the open mouths when the speakers did not do the standard
highlight of our adherence to New Testament principles verses the error
of the other groups, but turned the high beams on us. Moral impurity
was exposed in all its ugliness and fingered as something hurting us,
indeed, Evangelicalism as a whole. Anti-intellectualism was
underscored. Failure to plan-ahead was hung up for all to see. Being
busy in Deacons’ work and forsaking the Elder’s work was emblazoned
before our eyes.
Heads hung low as one of the speakers questioned the good of adhering
to New Testament principles in the structure of our local gatherings if
we’re not feeding the flock or caring for them. Some are doing the work
better than others, but even the speakers in this conference were
But it wasn’t all conviction. Tons of practical ideas were laid in our
laps. The speakers sat near or around the front rows furiously taking
as much notes as the rest of the brothers. How should the elders meet?
What should be some of the discussions? What should be the priority in
the elders’ meeting? Some of the brothers even signed up for an
accountability list where they “covenanted” to pray for each other.
I have the whole thing on mp3 and I’m sure it’s going to be made
available on Voices for Christ as a free download. I may share some of
this stuff in upcoming weeks since it also gives a peek into how the
Brethren do things—but it will be done spottily. Mid-Romans, Daniel and
soon to start Genesis has me fairly swamped not to mention the kids and
looking for a change in locale.