Rick Thompson serves as the District Superintendent of the Great Lakes District for the EFCA & has a book coming out entitled E3: Effective, Empowering Elders. I was able to get together with Dr. Thompson & ask him about that book & his ministry.
What is your background & what led you to write on elders & boards?
After graduating from TEDS, I have served as the pastor of one church for 13 years, 5 years as a missionary church planting pastor in Russia, and now 9 years as a superintendent. Church boards have been a major part of the scenery of my life and ministry for better and for worse.
If your readers could only take one idea away from your book, what would you like it to be?
Every country, century, and culture needs effective elders in the local church who will equip and empower God's people for their work of ministry and the New Testament gives us the pictures and the principles that we need as we also learn from effective and empowering leaders in every context
What does your book offer that others on the same topic may not?
The publisher of E3 read chapter 2 and decided to publish the book. A biblical approach to church government is presented there that is not found in other books. Also, as the publisher has written on the back of the book: Dr. Rick Thompson gleans many helpful insights on leadership practices from some of the best contemporary books written on this subject and weaves those insights into a solid biblical understanding of the important work of elders.
What authors have influenced your writing &/or your spiritual life?
David Burnham, D.L. Moody, Warren Wiersbe and Chuck Swindoll shaped my preaching. J. Oswald Sanders and Henry Blackaby guided my spiritual leadership. Five contemporary books impacted my managerial and leadership effectiveness
- The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
- The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge
- Empowerment Takes More than a Minute by Ken Blanchard
- Boards that Make a Difference by John Carver
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
Ideally, how would you like to see this book used within the church?
This book is designed to be read and discussed (interaction questions come with each chapter) by existing elder boards to increase effectiveness, church boards that are open to moving to having an elder board that leads (1 Timothy 5:18), and churches that are looking for a resource to use in elder development.
How do you see E:3 being used with the EFCA’s Ten Indicators?
One of the 10 leading indicators is "Leadership Development." This book can be a resource to a church that is focusing on this area.
What do you see as a crucial topic facing the evangelical church at large today?
Acts 6 describes the growth of the church at a great crossroads. I see us at a similar crossroads and the way ahead is through the elders of the local church gaining and maintaining the focus we see in Acts 6 of exalting Jesus Christ through the ministry of prayer, the Word of God, and the empowering of God's people to do the work of the ministry.
In your experience as both District Superintendent of the Great Lakes District within the EFCA & ministering in Russia for several years, do you find that elders have similar roles both internationally & nationally?
Yes, I see the church globally wrestling with some of the same issues. Look in the conclusion of my book for an interaction on this subject.
I’m going to ask you a question from your own “Behavioral Interview” within the appendix of your book. Who [was] your Paul? Who [was] the Christain leader you respect & would see as an effective model of Christian ministry?
There are models and there are mentors when we come to the question: "Who is your Paul?"
My models have been Warren Wiersbe and Chuck Swindoll.
My mentors have been Ben Sawatsky when I served as a missionary and now Spence Sawyer as a district superintendent in the GLD.
What are some exciting things happening within the Great Lakes District?
One of the most exciting ministries of the GLD is our Hispanic Ministry. There are 13 Hispanic Ministries in the GLD led by Ricardo Palmarin and the Hispanic Leadership Team. In October we will have an Hispanic Conference with around 400 and the GLD Conference has around 350. Another exciting ministry of the GLD is leaders who are coaching and mentoring the next generation of leaders in our movement. We have a growing number of ministerials, clusters, coaching, and mentoring groups that offer specialized coaching for our GLD leaders along with a new commitment to coach every new church planter and equip an elder caliber steering committee for every new church that serves until the indigenous elders are identified and in place.
You can pick up Dr. Thompson's book here for 20% off.