A Short Guide to Books on Elder Leadership

Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership
If you are new to studying church leadership and you would like to dive into a survey of all that the New Testament has to say about a plurality of elders in the local church, Biblical Eldership is the place to start. The book is divided into four parts. Part one provides introductory principles for understanding Biblical eldership. Part two carefully and convincingly makes a case for a plurality of pastoral leadership as the normal practice of New Testament churches. Part three offers exposition of every New Testament text that addresses elder leadership and part four covers a couple practical questions about how to implement elder church government.

If you are only going to read one book on elder-led church polity, this is the book to read. While it is lacking in some of the more practical guidance, it provides the Biblical foundation upon which church leadership should be built. I wish that part four was longer and more comprehensive in answering many of the questions that arise regarding how elder leadership actually works in daily church life, but that was not the primary goal of the book and there are other publications in this list that would be helpful in that area.

Elders in the Life of the Church: Rediscovering the Biblical Model for Church Leadership 
In the last century, church government in Baptist churches across the evangelical landscape have looked similar. Churches have traditionally operated under the leadership of a senior pastor, a ministry staff, a board of deacons, and a collection of committees. If that is the church structure that you are used to and you are curious yet skeptical of seeing churches transition to a church polity led by a plurality of elders, this book is the best place for you to start.

The authors are careful to address what are common concerns and questions. You can see that emphasis from the first chapter, “Why Baptist Elders Is Not an Oxymoron“. You may be asking, questions like, “what happens to our senior pastor if we have a plurality of elders?”, “do we stop being congregational by becoming elder led?”, or “how could we transition from our current church government to being elder-led without causing world war III?” If those are some of your concerns or questions, this book is your best bet. It concisely and adequately addresses elder church polity with cultural sensitivity through historical, biblical, and practical insight.

Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons
Perhaps you are firm in your understanding of church polity and you are committed to establishing the offices of elder and deacon in your local church, but you are in a stage of trying to find the right men for these offices. Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons helps you to do exactly as the title suggests. This book is not a comprehensive survey of Biblical church leadership nor does it set out to make detailed argumentation, rather each chapter is a short elaboration and meditation upon each Biblical qualification for both the office of deacon and elder. Church members, deacons, or pastors may find this resource helpful in testing their own fit for a Biblical office or someone else’s. Each chapter ends with reflection questions that help the reader discern modern expressions of each qualification. The book is intentionally short, readable, and easily discussed in a one-on-one relationship or small group. We currently use it in our internship program as a tool for interns to analyze their own Christian character. Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons can be useful but only as supplemental to additional training and study.

Church Elders: How to Shepherd God’s People Like Jesus
“I’m an elder. Now what?” These are the opening words of the introduction to this short book on Church Elders and they adequately summarize the purpose of this book. After briefly addressing the qualifications in chapter one, the rest of the book goes on to outline the Biblical job description that every elder shares. The author rightly emphasizes the title of “shepherd” as an essential descriptor of the elder role. He urges the reader to smell like the sheep. In other words, elders must be among the people that they are leading just as Jesus lived life among his followers. Church Elders would be a great introductory book for a group of elders to read together as they consider their role in the local church. It would also be a helpful primer for a church member wanting to know how to pray more specifically for and support their pastors.

The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel
If you are a pastor already set on putting into place an elder-led church leadership structure but you have more practical questions concerning the day to day life of the church this may be the book for you. The Deliberate Church is not just a book about elder leadership, rather its a more comprehensive book that focuses on church methodology as it should flow from proper theology. It highlights many practical aspects of ministry including church evangelism, membership, discipline, music ministry, and more. Sections three and four, however, are specifically about elders. The author provides nuggets of wisdom and advice on matters of elder assessment, elder meetings, staffing, and decision making among the elders. This book would be a great conversation starter for elders who want to reflect on many parts of their present or future ministry.

By His Grace & For His Glory,

Pastor Brandon Langley

St. Rose Community Church

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