“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. 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 and their families.
Shepherd, a significant motif in the Bible for God’s leaders, conveys not only strong leadership but tender care amidst God’s people. Jim Van Arsdale is a shepherd. I’ve worked with Jim on a few ministry teams and now on our Elder board. What strikes me about Jim – besides his obvious leadership gifts – is his ever-growing heart for God and people. I won’t forget a conversation I had about a year ago where Jim shared how God was reviving his heart and giving him a new vision for disciple-making ministry. It’s this hunger for the Lord and passion for Word-centered people ministry that enhances his gifts and makes him an effective shepherd. Here’s a little more on Jim…
1. How long have you and Cindy attended SSBC? What drew you to SSBC?
Cindy and I have attended SSBC since 1999. The pastor of our church in Prairie Village, KS suggested SSBC. He knew of South Shore Baptist by way of his study at Gordon Conwell seminary and also knew the church hosted Community Bible Study.
2. What is your favorite part about serving as an Elder at SSBC?
I’ve only started in this role so ask me again in six months! At this point, I think I felt God’s “pull” on my life to accept the call. Having said that, I’m excited about our church’s model of shepherding as well as the emphasis on prayer and study. The men with whom I serve are mature followers of Christ and I’m learning from them already.
3. When was a time that God undoubtedly showed His faithfulness to you and/or your family?
My sister passed away in 2011 from cancer, just a few months after her initial diagnosis. I felt that God was faithful in every respect according to His word. As she died, God brought together our family with her many friends and extended family. Her memorial service was a tribute to a woman who had grown in her faith in the years before her death. And it became an opportunity for Karen’s friends and family to share stories of how God had woven their lives together
4. What are three Christian books that have significantly influenced your life?
Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest – a daily devotional that seems to “hit” me more each year. Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller is very eye-opening to how I “worship” gods other than our Heavenly Father. Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby really made an impact. I’m currently reading When I Don’t Desire God, How to Fight for Joy by John Piper. I find it outstanding.
5. What is God currently teaching you?
After studying the book of Job earlier this year, I was awed by a much bigger concept of God’s sovereignty. He designed and created all things. He now rules over all. He’s also teaching me that my personal pleasure and accomplishment of personal goals is not paramount to Him; may not even be on his list. He’s also teaching me how little I know of His scripture and much remains for me to “mine”.
6. What is one thing about yourself that most people don’t know?
On a Boy Scout camping trip some years ago, Mark Bullock and I set fire to our sleeping bags. It was entirely an accident. My Dad warned us on that windy day that we might have built our cooking fire too close to the tent!
7. What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy spending time with Cindy, reading Jack Aubrey novels (Master & Commander), visiting parts of New England we’ve not experienced, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, swimming and bowling.
8. How can the SSBC congregation encourage and serve the Elders?
Pray for our wives and families. Approach us, introduce yourself and share with us. Try something new at SSBC – a class, a ministry offering, an event, a different worship service time, a different place to sit on Sunday morning, etc. Invite friends and family to church and let us know you have.