Living as an Elder-at-Large (#525)

Some say without local church institutions we cannot experience the gifts of elders, teachers, or apostles. They would be wrong. These gifts can actually function more powerfully when unmoored from the needs and processes of an institution. That reality can take expression in a variety of ways, but here's one example. Bob Prater used to be a full-time pastor managing an institution until he could no longer grow in his passions inside of it. Bob and wife Danette give themselves away to people they meet, simply by offering them a meal and a safe place to explore their own journey and connect the dots to God's unrelenting reach into their lives. Wayne explores this amazing expression with Bob as the talk about the heart of the Gospel as God no longer counting people's sins against them, and reconnecting them to the transforming love of a gracious Father. This has taken them into some of the most broken in his community, brought him alongside some of pastors in the city, and even an interesting relationship with a Muslim leader. Enjoy the story and let it encourage you to follow the Lamb wherever he wants to take you.

Podcast Notes:
Email Bob
A Christian and a Muslim Walk into a Studio
Wayne's Travel Schedule
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  1. Great podcast guys. Not a huge SNL fan, but one thing I do remember about the cast that Bob didn’t mention is that they were called the ‘Not Ready For Prime Time Players.’ And at least in the earlier years of the show, most of the people went on to very successful careers, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, etc. Obviously in Hollywood and society-at-large, success is often measured by fame and wealth, but in God’s Kingdom, success is measured very differently. I’m sure many will be surprised who God calls good and faithful servants, and who He tells, depart from me, I never knew you.

    I’ve gone to counseling in the past for a time, and the wisest counselor I had said to me, his job is to put himself out of a job! It took me a while to believe the truth of that statement. But years later, not needing counseling, groups, church and the like anymore , instead now desiring authentic relationships, I now know exactly what he meant.

    I mistakenly looked to a friend to be the answer-man, mentor, accountability partner, etc., and likewise he mistakenly took on the role, until in my life God trumped his position. The friendship has greatly suffered in the process. We are on two entirely different paths, but the fact I am not on his path, there is nothing to sustain the friendship. Conversations are filled with, ‘we ought to’, but nothing ever comes to fruition. I finally woke up and saw through the pretense, and suspect he is probably relieved, but a far different outcome than I thought this friendship would end up. And for that my heart is broken over it.

    • I’m sorry you’ve had such heartbreak. I’ve known it too. Relationships are always fluid despite our attempts to make them permanent.. Some only last as long as we share THEIR agenda. We thought it was a better friendship than it actually was. That news is always painful, but I find that God has other people for us to love and others who will love us… Blessings to you!

  2. The word that kept coming up for me as you and Bob were talking was ‘stewardship’. Bob’s occasional use of ‘my town’ seemed to me was his acceptance of the care and loving of folks in the realm the Father has entrusted to him. To God be the glory!

    Nancy Jones

    P.S. Wayne I met you in Richmond last year while I was living in the Charlotte NC area. Now you are going to be in NC, but I have moved to Boise, Idaho. So when will you be up in the Pacific Northwest again?

    • I have been asked that twice this week about my possibly coming to the Pacific Northwest, but as of now no one has actually extended a concrete invitation…. It always takes an invitation…

      • I’ll keep that in mind and listen to whether the Lord suggesting that or not.

        An interesting coincidence, I am listening through all of the podcast library and am currently on the 9/14/12 podcast about the possibility of a movie of “So You Don’t…” during which you mentioned you had been in Spokane and then met with the possible Producer who lives in Idaho.

        I have only the balance of 2012 to have completed the listening journey, it’s been a wonderful experience, thank you. I’m now 13 months out of full-time ministry and finally feel that I am walking with Him as never before. He is Risen, in truth, in my heart at 69 years of age. What an amazing Father we have.


  3. A really enjoyable podcast. The entire conversation was in a language of love and trust. It opened up my heart to a bigger concept of living in Him. Thank you.

  4. This podcast is such a blessing! I really love the way you define elder as ‘one of God’s people down the road enough to help others’. I am so grateful for the depth of what you both have shared of your lives. The parents laying up for the children is such a clear example of this. The world kinda gets this all turned around. The greatest satisfaction in life involves the ‘kenosis’ giving or what for me is called godly authorized responsibility. It is not arrogance at all. I think Philippians 2 lays it out. I am inspired and thankful.

  5. I vividly remember you sharing some of this wonderful man’s journey with us while you were here in UK. It grabbed my heart at that time and for sure has given me further joy listening to the life directly from the “horses mouth” as they say.
    His explanation of what he does is so rich, He helps people connect the dots in their lives, the fingerprints of God on their journeys.
    Surely this is what life looks like as we begin to live out of this Christ who is within us. Being responsive to His voice as we hear it, responsible for our journey into His love. Then we demonstrate his bride to the community we are in, whatever that looks like, we demonstrate the God who loves to those who so desperately need to know they are loved.
    Thanks so much Wayne and Bob for sharing this, I hear again the voice of the bride on the earth.

  6. What an honor and privilege to sit down with my dear friend. Thank you, Wayne. This journey just keeps getting better as we engage our Father and His creation with a heart for both. Happy Easter!

    • Hi Bob,

      Thanks again for sharing some of your story and journey…truly appreciate your heart for fathering!

      It was mentioned during the podcast that you have a workbook to fatherly aid others by ‘connecting the dots’ & ‘identify Gods’ fingerprints in their lives’…the conversation did not actually cover enough of this (your ‘work’) and Wayne did though suggest making it available for review…is this perhaps still an option?

      Would you willing to share some more of this mentoring of order workbook?

      Blessings, Big Guy.

      • You must have missed something or I did. I don’t recall any reference to a workbook, and I would be surprised if Bob knew of such thing. He can respond, of course, if he does.

  7. Immediatly recognize Wayne’s face and his smile. It flooded my mind with memories. Used to listen yo the broadcasts through a friend back in South Africa. Our journey of real freedom on Christ started there and with Wayne’s messages. Needless to say I cried a lot and modt blessed of all our Lord Jedus msde us free from the bondage of religion and brought me into a relationship with Him. God bless you all. Winnie.

  8. G-men,

    I am about 3 years into listening (and following) these podcasts religiously…oops, scratch that…perhaps Divinely led towards eavesdropping on these ever expanding conversations…yet I now venture to participate personally through my here commentary.

    I have found this particular podcast and Bob’s story one that resonates so closely to my life situation right now…maybe because it felt freeing to hear of the elder-ship work Bob chose to do, which proved to be a much appreciated confirmation for my deepest desire and interest to help others notice and engage DAD (i.e. Designated Accepting/Approving Devotee) for who(m) He really is….Thanks Bob & Wayne…I, too love being a D-A-D representative!


    I have spent most of my life heading down a personal development hunt for substantial recognition & meaningful significance. As a further consequence, six years of involvement in professional sport (i.e cricket) led to realizing how the performance trap & the results-at-all-cost culture is robbing us all of an expansive experience sport can offer, especially here in South Africa…SA has an interesting story that stems massively from our relationship with our sporting participation and continues to affect our future(s)…I strongly sense the Spirit’s work in SA is revolving around reconciliation through sport and cricket is the only game (to my knowledge) that has the spirit embedded within its constituted framework.

    I would love a chance to talk more about the correlation between the life of a cliched Spirit-led Christian & that of a Spirit-led Cricketer…the connections are obvious to me, yet I question my own naivety with this notion of the Spirit’s personal invitation being extended through this specific game, cricket.

    Thanks again for the blessings of dialogue and relationship… in-joy the journey!

    Kindest, Big Guy.

      • I have functioned somewhat as the ‘dot-connector’ for sportsmen in times past, simply to aid their relational fruitfulness (and other) & thus it delighted me to continue that work…perhaps then in the context of living loved in the demanding environment of professional sport.

        My naivety perhaps was advocated through my insistence that professionals should never play to win, but instead play as winners…a philosophy that ultimately got me resigned from the sport 3 years ago.

        • I hear you. The kingdoms of this world don’t function like the kingdom of God. Coaches want planers with the winning killer-instinct. I can see why that was a problem… So sorry!

  9. I’ve just be introduced to your work Wayne… So I’ve started listening to the podcast and plan on listening to them all ???? … Bob sounds so much like my husband and I… This is what we do who we are … Thank you for sharing Bob … We have been pastors in the church for many years and when I look at the most impact in people’s lives it was and is doing exactly what you were talking about. I’m looking forward to learning more, thank you for giving.

    PV, Alabama

  10. Hi Wayne & Bob and Brad, Been listening to the podcasts for some time now and love them! My husband and I found ”Living as an Elder at Large” really encouraging as it has been so strongly on our hearts to make ourselves available for people in the community full stop.

    We were out of the “system” for around 12 years, involved in a fairly free thinking ministry for around 6 years and then thought it might be time to reconnect again with a church last year and simply just love inside as we do outside…… unfortunately it wasn’t an easy time and we did not stay, but we did learn heaps and are now feeling further prompted to find other ways to connect at a deep level with people other than meals, coffee or drinks and the fortnightly market where we have a stall providing free dream interpretation and spiritual encouragement for people from all different walks of life and faiths.

    I had a dream recently that keeps coming to mind, where my husband wrote on every wall in a Museum (which we knew to be a church) with a large square purple piece of chalk .


    The dictionary defines each word as such:
    Definitive – (of a conclusion or agreement) done or reached decisively and with authority.”a definitive decision”
    1. synonyms:
    2. conclusive, final, ultimate

    Alternative – Existing outside traditional or established institutions or systems.

    Solutions – a means of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation.?

    Thanks for encouraging those of us on this God journey that we are not alone and that it is ok to be a square chalk in a round system and that living loved and loving others unconditionally is so enriching and is an alternative solution to churchianity/the institution and people outside of that bubble truly are hungry for authentic connection with those that follow Jesus and those still in the bubble are certainly being provoked!

  11. Hi Guys
    At 19 minutes into the podcast you talked about sharing ‘an order’ of things you went through with people.
    Where could I find that?

    • I’m sorry, Annette. That was a joke. What we meant was there was not an order we give people to follow, but invite them into a living relationship where Jesus leads them in the process he has for them….

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