Jeremiah and Ezekiel: A Fragrant Debate Amidst Distractions

Setting: Jeremiah and Ezekiel find themselves in a bustling marketplace filled with vendors shouting, children playing, and the occasional stray animal causing chaos. They’re trying to discuss the role of elders in the church, but the distractions make it quite the challenge.

Jeremiah: [dodging a wayward chicken] Ezekiel, have you ever thought about the work of elders in the church? Like, are they more shepherds or rulers?

Ezekiel: [sidestepping a vendor’s cart] Oh, definitely a hot topic, Jeremiah. But it’s hard to concentrate with all this noise! I guess we just have to roll with it. Now, where were we? Ah yes, elders. Are they supposed to oversee or control everything?

Jeremiah: [laughing] Well, you see, some people think elders should run the show with an iron fist. Kind of like that vendor over there who won’t let anyone touch his apples without paying first.

Ezekiel: [snickering] That’s one way to put it. But seriously, Jeremiah, overseeing isn’t the same as controlling. The Bible teaches that elders should lead by example, not dictate every detail of church life.

Jeremiah: [trying to ignore a shouting match between two merchants] Exactly. Like in our friend Dale Smelser’s work, he points out that elders should develop the congregation, not dominate it. They should be shepherds guiding the flock, not authoritarian rulers barking orders.

Ezekiel: [nodding] True, true. It reminds me of those elders who insisted on making all the announcements themselves. They thought they were protecting the flock, but really, they were stifling growth. Just like that baker over there refusing to let anyone else handle the dough.

Jeremiah: [chuckling] Perfect analogy! And when someone suggested sharing the announcements, they shut it down faster than a pigeon snatching a breadcrumb.

Ezekiel: [grinning] Yes, their reasoning was, “We thought about it, but since we run things, we’ll just keep running them.” It’s as if they were afraid the congregation might say something wrong.

Jeremiah: [watching a juggler distract the crowd] That’s a problem. It’s not about making every decision for everyone. Elders should encourage participation and leadership development within the church, just like how a good juggler teaches others the trick rather than hogging all the balls.

Ezekiel: [laughing] Nice one, Jeremiah! Exactly. The essence of their role is to oversee, not micromanage. They should inspire and lead without lording it over everyone.

Jeremiah: [dodging a running child] Speaking of which, there’s also the issue of how elders handle dissent or suggestions. Instead of just dictating decisions, they should consider the congregation’s input.

Ezekiel: [sidestepping a dog] Right. And if an elder’s decision leads the church astray, it’s not enough to blindly follow. Remember, Jesus warned about the blind leading the blind into a ditch (Matthew 15:14).

Jeremiah: [laughing as the dog chases its tail] Yes, following blindly can lead to both elders and congregation falling into trouble. Elders must guide with wisdom and humility, not authoritarian control.

Ezekiel: [watching a mime act out a leadership scenario] And let’s not forget how elders handle church discipline. Withdrawal from fellowship isn’t about elders alone deciding someone’s fate. It’s a congregational action underpinned by the Spirit’s guidance.

Jeremiah: [amused by the mime’s antics] Exactly. Elders should lead the process, but it’s the congregation that collectively decides, reflecting the will of God, not just the elders.

Ezekiel: [shaking his head at a vendor hawking “miracle cures”] And for those who think elders control salvation, let’s be clear: Only Jesus holds that key. Elders can guide, but they can’t dictate someone’s standing before God.

Jeremiah: [nodding vigorously] Amen to that! Whether it’s a baby shower or a major decision, elders should steer the ship without hogging the wheel. They’re shepherds, not taskmasters.

Ezekiel: [dodging another chicken] So true, Jeremiah. It’s about balance—leading with authority but without authoritarianism, guiding but also empowering.

Jeremiah: [grinning as they finally find a quiet corner] We’ve come to a good resolution here, Ezekiel. Despite all the chaos around us, it’s clear: elders are to nurture and develop the congregation, not rule it with an iron fist.

Ezekiel: [smiling] Exactly. Now, how about we grab a bite to eat? All this debating in the marketplace has made me hungry.

Jeremiah: [laughing] Lead the way, shepherd! Lead the way.


[They walk off, leaving the bustling marketplace behind, satisfied with their lively discussion and eager for a well-deserved meal.]

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