Elders Keeping Close Contact with Their Pastor(s)

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Here is a truism...: Pastors and elders must regularly discuss both the quality of the worship services and the pastors' sermons.  Most councils now have a small task-force that periodically talks with the pastor about the effectiveness of his/her sermons. Calvin Seminary has evaluation sheets which can be helpful both for the elders (and members) and the pastors.

But there is also room for you personally as an elder to talk a bit with the pastor confidentially about the challenge of bringing the Word.

Here is a story that illustrates it.

It concerns the Rev. Clarence Boomsma who passed away a few years ago. Clarence is widely remembered as a devout believer and a capable pastor. Boomsma began his ministry in Imlay City from which he went to the Calvin CRC of Grand Rapids, 1948. His ministry spanned forty years during which he served two congregations. From Imlay City, MI, he went to the Calvin CRC of Grand Rapids which he served from 1948 to 1983 when he retired.

He once told us a story that I may share with you here. He said that after he had been in Grand Rapid for a few years, he had a visit from an elder of Imlay City who stayed for the weekend (Clarence was then still a bachelor). Over coffee they discussed the sermon. After a while the elder looked at him earnestly. 'Clarence', he said, 'your sermon this morning was not as good as I had expected. You seem not to have grown '. “

Clarence said to us, “That remark stayed with me. I had been given a lot of compliments. Those I soon forgot. This earnest assessment of this elder whom I esteemed cut to the quick and stayed with me all my life. I began to evaluate my sermons carefully. I worked at them harder. I learned to recognize sermons that were not as good as they should be. I sought feed-back... I owe that elder a great debt of gratitude.”

Perhaps you as an elder may also find a moment with your pastor at which you can speak a personal word of commendation but also give some honest advice. And remember your pastor will always appreciate discussing the needs of the congratulation and whether he addresses them effectively.

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I had to laugh when I read this.  At my summer assignment on the east coast, there was someone, a retired english teacher, who from time to time would say things like "Your sermon was over.  Why didn't you quit?  Why did you keep talking?"  Of course, all your "quills" jump up when you hear something like this.  But he was right.  I had to, and I still have to, work on making my ending my ending.  Always reforming!

Lou, I hope this proves to be a broad discussion as it is an important subject. I want to lead off by saying that the people in the CRC typically don't appreciate how blessed they are by exceedingly well trained pastors. WARNING...when you comment on a pastor's message, you are commenting on the minister. Clarence remembered that critique, as we all do when someone says something indiscript about a message. Any such discussion needs to be as specific as possible and also objective rather than subjective in order to be helpful. One more point, I would say that for most pastors it takes about five years to develope the art of writing and presenting effective Sunday sermon (s).