“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.

Past interviews:        Eric Mello   Tim Ells   Jim Kleberg    Kent Forkner    Bill Haeck    Rick Coughlin    Rick Goodenough    Jim Van Arsdale

ReedsI got to know Tim Reed in two different bible studies in the first couple years I came on staff.  Now he is one of the newest elders serving at SSBC.  A few words I’d use to describe him:  humble; eager to grow; servant leader; reliable; family man.  I’ve heard Tim humbly share weaknesses and genuinely ask for prayer.  I’ve seen Tim listen intently and then offer thoughtful counsel.  I’ve heard Tim speak into difficult or confusing situations with uncanny insight and clarity.  I know Tim is regularly meeting with individuals for bible reading, prayer, and accountability.  It is also evident that Tim loves and prioritizes his wife and children.  Taken together he is a wonderful example for young men in our church – including myself.  Here’s a little more about Tim…

1.  How long have you and Sue attended SSBC?  What drew you to SSBC?

I’ve been attending SSBC since 1990. We moved back from Colorado about 9 months after we were married here. A job in Boston is what brought us back.

My wife, Sue, is from one of the founding families of SSBC–her grandparents were George and Helen Bennett. Her dad and mom are Gerry and Rindy Bennett.

2.  What is your favorite part about serving as an Elder at SSBC?

This is just my first time serving as an elder, so I can’t really say. But what attracted me to doing this is the chance to be involved in discipleship and building up the church body.

We live in a time that’s increasingly resistant and hostile to Jesus, and we need to be serious about our walk with Him, both for personal growth and for reaching the lost around us. I look forward to the next three years to see how God uses me, and how God works in our church to strengthen and embolden the body.

3.  When was a time that God undoubtedly showed His faithfulness to you and/or your family?

There was a time in my life, professionally, that was very painful. I had just sold the company that I co-owned, and soon after, the new owners found a way to end my contract. God used this to reveal to me what an idol the company had become . He showed me his faithfulness and it was through that difficult experience I came to much more clearly the understand both my utter need for Jesus and his grace and love for me.

In fact, this time was also when I really “got” what discipleship can mean. I had hired Matt Dorn as a professional coach, but he really was more of a discipler to me. He told me that by submitting all of this situation to God, and by seeking Him in everything, I would look back on that time and see God’s goodness. He was so right! That “valley” became one of the highlights of my spiritual life. That’s where my appreciation of the power and importance of discipleship germinated.

4.  What are three Christian books that have significantly influenced your life?

Three books which have left lasting imprints on me have been the following:
The Pursuit of God, A W Tozer
Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby
My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers

5.  What is God currently teaching you?

A couple things are becoming evident to me and which I think God wants me to work on.

First, life is supposed to be intentional, not accidental. The apostle Paul was a great example of a man who loved Jesus and focused his entire life on preparing for and serving God, both in himself and in the church around him. I’m certainly no Paul, but I hope and pray that I will be a good steward of the time and relationships that God gives me, that I will intentionally develop my “God-focussed skills”, and that God will use me to bless and build up others, both in and outside the church.

Second, I’m also learning that it’s not enough to want God to make me a more holy person, or to more selflessly serve others. All that is good, and that’s basically what I just said that I’m learning. But I’m also learning if that is my #1 priority, I have it all wrong. My focus must be on Christ and on knowing and obeying God–for God’s sake and for no other ulterior reason. I’ve been convicted that it’s pretty easy for me to make even righteous things more important than God, and that I have a long way to go in setting everything aside in the pursuit of knowing and worshiping God.

6.  What is one thing about yourself that most people don’t know?

Well, I think that I’m probably a pretty boring person, but something that most people don’t know about me is that I’m a closet red-neck. That may not be the best way to put it–let’s just say I’m a country boy at heart. I love the mountains (even more than the ocean) and I’ll always remember standing on the top of the Front Range Rockies watching the sun rise over the Colorado plains. Give me a pickup, a gun rack and a dog, and I’m set. That said, I’ve lived mostly in New England and New York since I was about 11, so I’m truthfully more a true Yankee than a cowboy.

7.  What do you like to do for fun?

Another thing that people may not know about me is that I have LOTS of interests, but with age comes wisdom and
discernment. So, I’m trying to focus on the things I REALLY enjoy, and those are: Photography, Mountain Biking, Hiking, Computers, Movies, Shooting (archery and firearms), Historical Fiction and Biographies… wait…

8.  How can the SSBC congregation encourage and serve the Elders?

Pray for us. That’s the most important thing. And then let us know that you’re praying for us–it’s a big encouragement.

I’m new to the elder board and I am coming to realize that in a way, I’ve sort of put elders on pedestals. What I’m learning is that they are “just” men like the other guys in the church, and being an elder is not a sign that “you’ve arrived”. Our elders love the Lord, take their relationship with God very seriously, and are deeply desiring to serve Him, but they have struggles, hardships and difficulties like everyone else. For elders the stakes are pretty high, because God holds elders to a high standard and elders have a very large responsibility to care for God’s people. That’s why prayer is so important.

As the elders care for the church, in ways that are sure to be imperfect, the prayers of the congregation for the elders are so important. Please pray for holiness; for discipline and devotion to God; for loving, effective spiritual leadership at home; and for humility and faithfulness in serving the Church body.

“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.

Past interviews:        Eric Mello        Tim Ells        Jim Kleberg        Kent Forkner        Bill Haeck        Rick Coughlin        Rick Goodenough

VanArsdalesShepherd, 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.

“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.

Past interviews:        Eric Mello        Tim Ells        Jim Kleberg        Kent Forkner        Bill Haeck        Rick Coughlin

RickG Rick Goodenough was the first South Shore Baptist voice I ever heard.  He served on the search committee that brought me on board and conducted my first interview.  He spoke passionately about SSBC’s caring people, faithful gospel preaching, servant leadership, vibrant worship, and commitment to missions & outreach. He clearly loved this church family.  Since that first phone interaction, I’ve served alongside Rick on a number of ministry teams, including Connections, Membership, and the Elder board.  The more I get to know him, the more I encounter a man who deeply loves God and desires to serve His people.  Here’s a little more about Rick…

1. How long have you and your spouse attended SSBC? What drew you to SSBC?

My family has been attending SSBC for 18 years. We were relocating to the area and in looking for a home, and drove by SSBC several times and decided to visit. We were excited to observe true worship as people were clearly singing from the heart and the preaching was Biblical and gospel focused.

2.  What is your favorite part about serving as an Elder at SSBC?

So hard to pick a favorite part, but I really enjoy the privilege of praying for members needs and encouraging and building up the body of Christ in whatever ways I can.

3.  When was a time that God undoubtedly showed His faithfulness to you and/or your family?

God has shown His mercy and grace toward Sheila and I many, many times throughout our lives. The most blessed that we have been with God’s innumerable and generous provisions was when our son Grant, took on his own faith relationship with the Lord and committed his life to Christ.

4.  What are three Christian books that have significantly influenced your life?

The Bible is at the bedrock level of influence and I have benefitted by so many Christian books that it is hard to name the other two.

A biography on Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore, was a wonderful read on how the Spirit of God used Spurgeon’s faithfulness in gospel preaching to build up the church which in turn raised up faithful women and men to build and serve in a wide ranging set of ministries to the glory of God.

I also resonated with a little book Reverberation: How God’s Word Brings Light, Freedom, and Action to His People by Jonathan Leeman. The message is one of letting God’s word permeate one’s life more robustly through praying his word, singing his word, hearing his word, speaking his word, etc. Just a great set of insights on how we might be in much deeper communion with our Lord through integrating his word into our lives in ways we may not have contemplated.

And then there is The Trellis and the Vine by Tony Payne and Collin Marshall, and so many books that have left an impact.

5.  What is God currently teaching you?

God is teaching me greater patience, and a deeper love for mankind through a softened heart that strives to exhibit Christ’s mercy and grace toward others as he has shown toward me. He has also convicted me to stay the course and to continue following the path of John the Baptist when he says, “He must become greater; I must become less,” John referring to his ministry, and me referring to giving over my self-serving ways to his ways of giving grace and mercy to others.

6.  What is one thing about yourself that most people don’t know?

Lots of stories, but most do not know that I got to fly a Mig L-29 Soviet jet over Chesapeake Bay. I actually had command for about two minutes, a scary thought. And the pilot did his own air show as he executed barrel rolls , reverse flips and other ridiculous maneuvers that got me into his 7g club…nearly passed out on that.

7.  What do you like to do for fun?

I enjoy backpacking, gardening and long walks on the beach.

8.  How can the SSBC congregation encourage and serve the Elders?

I continue to be encouraged and built up when I see God’s people fellowshipping and building up and encouraging each other, the body of Christ. I love it when folks see a need and just step up and meet the need, even without being asked. Things as little as picking up a piece of paper on the floor, or joining in on a work day to pick weeds seem insignificant, but all add together to building up the body of Christ.

I am encouraged that we are a praying church and that the culture is becoming one where folks are open to express their concerns to fellow believers and with hand on shoulder pray together for God to bless.

I am encouraged that our focus as a church is on engaging our families, neighbors and our communities with the gospel, and would be particularly encouraged if our new members class continued to be overflowing with folks who put on faith in Christ through the efforts of each of us and of course by the working of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

“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.

Past interviews:        Eric Mello        Tim Ells        Jim Kleberg        Kent Forkner        Bill Haeck

COUGHLIN-RICK-293Rick Coughlin might be the friendliest person I know.  More than just gregarious, Rick is large-hearted and cares deeply for people.  He’s faithfully shepherded his Growth Group for a number of years.  I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve witnessed Rick put a hand on the shoulder of a struggling friend and pray right there, following one of our worship services.  And I’ve been that friend he’s prayed for as well!  It’s a privilege to work alongside this brother.   Here’s a bit more about Rick and his family…

1.  How long have you and your spouse attended SSBC?  What drew you to SSBC?

We began attending SSBC around 1984 or 85.  Both Cheryl & I had been raised in the Roman Catholic Church and had fallen away in our teenage years for a variety of reasons.  When our kids came along we recognized that we needed help raising them in a Christian environment and began searching for that right environment.  After visiting several churches of different denominations, we settled in at a local Congregational church.  Once there, we had gotten involved in ministry and began to find that the doctrine and teachings of the church didn’t really align with what Scripture teaches and we began to question those teachings.  Dear friends of ours (Larry & Connie Wagner) were attending SSBC and invited us.  Over a summer break we attended and found that the teaching here was vibrant, alive, and relevant.  Once we returned to the Congregational church the difference was stark.  Shortly thereafter we made SSBC our home.

2.  What is your favorite part about serving as an Elder at SSBC?

I am incredibly blessed by pastoring the people at SSBC.  God has brought so many people across my path that I have been able to speak with, encourage, pray with, and more.  I love the fellowship of the Godly men I serve with on the Board.  I love the pastoral staff and ministry leaders of this body of believers and I have grown so much in my own faith and knowledge of Christ.  Truly I have been blessed far more than I have given.

3.  When was a time that God undoubtedly showed His faithfulness to you and/or your family?

I’m not sure the correct expression is “God’s faithfulness to us” as much as it’s our recognition that God is worthy of having our faith put in Him.  He has shown Himself to be worthy of our devotion and faith countless times, whether it’s in provision of our daily needs; giving me the words – or even the impetus – to speak to someone who needs encouragement; or even looking back at my life and my family and recognizing how truly blessed I am – and the fact that very little of any of this has anything to do with me!

4.  What are three Christian books that have significantly influenced your life?

Aside from the Bible itself, I think the first book to influence me was “The Late, Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsay.  I’m not sure that I fully agree with its theology now (actually, I’m not sure how much I remember of its theology after nearly forty-five years!)  My brother recommended the book to me and it is probably the first time I starting thinking about the reality of God as opposed to some ethereal force out there.

The next book is “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis.  I think this is the first book to give me a grasp of who God is and what he’s done for me.  (As a matter of fact, it’s been a long time since I’ve read this one.  I may just read it again.  I don’t think it ever gets old!)

5.  What is God currently teaching you?

I think that God is teaching me humility and patience.  It wasn’t that long ago that everything in life seemed to go easy.  Over the last few years nothing seems to be easy.  I’m recognizing (once again!) that without God’s intervention and involvement nothing happens.  My reliance on Him is complete.

6.  What is one thing about yourself that most people don’t know?

This is a tough question.  I think that most people who know me, know just about anything of importance there is to know about me.  My life tends to be an open book.

7.  What do you like to do for fun?

What’s fun?  Who has time for fun?!  I like movies, reading, listening to music – all kinds of music, long walks on the beach, sunsets ….  (I’m kidding about the walks on the beach and sunsets.  Well, maybe not, but I don’t like to do them as much as the others)

8.  How can the SSBC congregation encourage and serve the Elders?

Seriously, pray for us.  We are no different than anyone else in the congregation.  We’re all screwed up and need God’s grace and mercy regularly.  Please pray for us that we would be good shepherds, faithfully discharging the work He has called us to.  Pray for protection for us and for our families.