“Who are the Elders of SSBC?” I can’t say I’ve never heard that question before. Our church is at the size where getting to know our Elders is not always easy: there’s twelve of them and hundreds of us. Yet God has called these men to be our shepherds (1 Peter 5:2), teachers (Acts 6:4), and examples (1 Peter 5:3). We should know them! Being a Pastor at SSBC gives me the privilege of rubbing shoulders with these godly men on a regular basis. They are wise leaders and enjoyable to be around. More importantly, they love the Lord, love their families, and love our church. To help us get to know them better, I plan on asking each eight questions and posting their answers here. Enjoy. And please pray for these men.
This was originally posted several months ago on my old site.
My first interaction with Eric Mello, the vice-chairman of our Elder Board, occurred a few minutes before the first ministry meeting I ever led at SSBC. I was the nervous new Pastor and Eric the seasoned Elder. I don’t remember what he said, but his presence and words set me at ease. My second memory of Eric happened at his home, where Jeni and I joined his family for dinner. We ate, chatted, laughed a lot and played Dutch Blitz. On our drive home, Jeni and I agreed that the Mello family was “awesome.” Eric and I co-lead a Small Group, which gives me an insider-look at this shepherd at work. He’s the real deal. With that, I’ll turn it over to Eric…
1. How long have you and JoyLynn attended SSBC? What drew you to SSBC?
Joylynn and I took our family to visit South Shore Baptist for the first time during December of 2000. We became members during 2001 so we have been members now for 11 years. For the nine years prior to joining South Shore Baptist we joined with a few other families to be part of a Church plant in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston. After 9 years of Church planting in Boston, we sensed the Lord leading us into a new season of life and ministry. Joylynn and I have always first identified the Church that we felt called to join before we made our decision about where we should live. Matt 6:33 – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
We had three criterion (3 W’s) we were looking for in a church. The first is a strong ministry of teaching from God’s Word. Second, the Church would have God honoring worship and third was a desire to fulfill the great commission (Matt 28:16-20) by witnessing to our community and the world. When we visited SSBC we found all three of these criterion in a very healthy balance. We knew that we found our Church and very soon after that, we moved our family to the South Shore. At that time we had just had Benjamin who is our fifth child. We were in a radical time of change with a new home, new baby and new Church Family.
2. What is your favorite part about serving as an Elder at SSBC?
My favorite part about serving as an Elder is having the opportunity to minister to the body of Christ along- side some very godly men who have a passion to love and serve the Lord in the context of the local church. Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”
I have come to understand and appreciate the biblical teaching on the role of Elder in the local church (1 Tim 3, Titus 1, 1 Peter 5) and I fully embrace and aspire to live up to the calling and responsibility. Some synonyms for the word elder are overseer, shepherd and pastor. As an elder/shepherd I am responsible, to in the best of my ability, to protect (from false doctrine), feed (from God’s Word), lead (govern) and care for the needs of the flock (love and pray for the flock). I love being an Elder and consider it a privilege and sacred responsibility of which I am accountable to God.
3. When was a time that God undoubtedly showed His faithfulness to you and/or your family?
I can recount so many times that God has demonstrated his faithfulness to me and my family. The most recent time was a year and a half ago. I was in a job transition and I was completely relying on God to provide for our family of 7. Two kids were in college and our living expenses were at the peak of my lifetime. If God did not provide me with a job, I wasn’t sure what would happen to our family.
I remember taking a walk with Joylynn at that time and having a tremendous sense of peace as I remembered God’s faithfulness to us in the past. We prayed specifically about our need and I also prayed specifically about what type of job I desired to have. I felt a total surrender to God and had peace about his faithfulness to provide for us. Literally, the next day I had an interview and the day after that I received an excellent job. This job was an answer to the specific type of job I prayed for. I don’t want anyone reading this to think that they are not experiencing God’s faithfulness if they are experiencing an extended time of waiting on God through a difficult circumstance. But I can say with full assurance that God’s timing is perfect and he will provide what is best for us in his perfect timing. We may not understand why he brings trials into our lives but I do know that through times of trials I have grown the most in my relationship with God.
4. What are three Christian books that have significantly influenced your life?
I will mention three books that God used in my life in chronological order. When I was a young seeker I read a small book by Josh McDowell called More than a Carpenter. This little book helped me understand and believe the truth of the Bible and learn about who Jesus was. I recommend this book to new believers or those who doubt the reliability of the bible and the gospel story. The second book that helped me grow as a new disciple was a book written by Gerry Bridges called the Pursuit of Holiness. And the third book that has influenced me is Desiring God by John Piper. In Piper’s book I learned that the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. I have to give credit in part to CS Lewis because Piper’s thesis is based on Lewis’s writings about the relationship between the happiness of man and God’s glory.
5. What is God currently teaching you?
God has been teaching me about the centrality of the Gospel message in my life as a believer. All wisdom about my identity my life and my creator is found in the truth of the Gospel message. Everything in the scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, point to the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God has recently given me the opportunity to teach His word in many settings (worship services, youth meetings , small groups and men’s retreats) and I now make it my aim to include the gospel message in every instance because this is the answer to who God is and what life is all about. I have been learning that Biblical teaching void of the Gospel is moralism, just a list of does and don’ts, but when the gospel is incorporated in our teaching we realize that God has done it all for us and we just need to believe in His finished work on the cross and surrender our lives to Him.
6. What is one thing about yourself that most people don’t know?
My two brothers and I were adopted as infants. I grew up in Falmouth on Cape Cod. My loving parents brought us up in the Catholic Church and set a wonderful example to us kids of the marriage commitment, unconditional love and sacrifice for the family. My parents still live in my childhood home in Falmouth and have been married for over 55 years. My dad is turning 82 this summer and is still driving into work four days a week and does all of the household chores and seems to have more energy than me.
7. What do you like to do for fun?
I like to spend time with my family (mostly laughing a lot together, watching movies, going out to dinner and taking family vacations). I enjoy playing almost any sport, occasionally run road races, play guitar and bass, listening to music and walking on the beach.
8. How can the SSBC congregation encourage and serve the Elders?
I think that biggest way that the church can support the Elder’s is through prayer and words of encouragement. We need prayer for our families, our unity, wisdom to lead, delivery from temptation and faithfulness to God. We all could also use some words of encouragement to help us persevere in our task as Elder’s. Hebrews 10:24. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”