Training Elders - Just What Did We Do?

In several weeks our church will vote on two men our leadership team has selected as candidates for eldership. I will be talking more about this in an upcoming sermon, but I thought some people might be interested in the training, reading, and assignments we asked these guys to do prior to being examined and nominated.

The training process began late last January and continued through November. Here's some (not all) of what that entailed.

Reading assignments

The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel - Mark Dever & Paul Alexander

Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership - Alexander Strauch

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth - Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart

Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching - Graeme Goldsworthy

Redemption Accomplished and Applied - John Murray

Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change - Paul David Tripp

These six books were supplemented with some shorter booklets and selections from other books including another great book on elders:

Elders and Leaders - Gene A Getz

Writing assignments

A 500 word essay on "What is an elder?"

Three thorough multi-page questionnaires on (1) personal life in light of the biblical qualifications listed in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3; (2) hermeneutics, biblical theology, and systematic theology; (3) philosophy of ministry


The group listened to a myriad of lectures and sermons together including the following:

*A lecture on watching one's life and teaching by C. J. Mahaney
*A sermon sexual purity by John Piper
*Two messages on the meaning of the gospel by D. A. Carson and Tim Keller
*A lecture on the place of theology in the life of the church by Sinclair Ferguson
*A sermon on elders by D. A. Carson
*A lecture on expository preaching by Steven Lawson
*A lecture on biblical counseling by David Powlison

Discussion topics

Most of the above lectures and sermons were followed by fruitful (and sometimes lively!) discussion. Over the course of the year, we also discussed:

*The essential meaning of the Gospel
*Basic criteria and requirements for eldership in Fulkerson Park
*The Constitution and Statement of Faith of Fulkerson Park
*Hermeneutics (principles for interpreting Scripture) and the influence of postmodernism on hermeneutics
*Basic principles of spiritual formation
*Accountability relationships
*The differences between Dispensationalism, Covenant Theology, and New Covenant Theology
*Spiritual gifts
*Church discipline
*Leadership and ministry styles
*Soteriology (doctrine of salvation), the ordo salutis (order of the application of salvation) and the doctrines of grace
*Worship and music philosophy
*Essentials and non-essential doctrines to Christian orthodoxy, church membership, and church leadership
*Counseling and personal ministry
*Missions philosophy

Discussion, Brainstorming, and Prayer

Beyond this there was just a lot of loose discussion, brainstorming, and time together in prayer. Each participant brought helpful and challenging ideas to the table encouraged me with their hard work and humble, teachable spirits.

The most important part of the process were the multi-hour discussions between the trainees and myself and the Board of Deacons, who have been functioning in something of an interim role as elders until we officially make our transition. I was impressed by the focus and depth of the questions the deacons asked and thought that these discussions were fruitful and well-grounded in Scripture.

It is exciting to see our church now at the crossroads of becoming elder-led and I think we are blessed to have godly men available to serve in this role. I'm also thankful for the four deacons I have served with for the past five years. They have consistently made careful and wise decisions with a desire to obey Scripture and love and care for the people of God.


Anonymous said...

After this they still wanted to be Elders? LOL! This looks like and intense process for a very high calling. I am excited to see that there was a well thought out plan. Did you interview the families also? I have seen this done on occassion. What if the husband was qualified and not the wife?

Brian G. Hedges said...

We did interview each candidates wife, along side her husband, in the formal examination process. But this was more of a conversation than an examination. As far as I can tell there are no biblical qualifications specified for elder's wives, only elders. However, if a candidates wife had significant reservations or resistance to the idea of her husband being an elder, we would obviously take this into account.

Saw your new blog the other day - keep up the good work!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sir. I am trying to come up there in the spring, I will make sure I buy you a nice cup of coffee or lunch!

Brian G. Hedges said...

That would be great - I'll look forward to it!

Unknown said...

I sure agree with Lionel. And you did all this study in less than a year? You've got some good men there.
Brian, Mark and I visited you last summer to see how you were making this transition to eldership in your church. You may remember talking to us for an hour after a Sunday evening service.We appreciated your words of wisdom and encouragement. We are working to do the same thing. We have read "The Deliberate Church", but that is all so far. We have a lot of changes happening right now.
I forwarded this post to the rest of our board to get their feedback.
I'll have to drop in one evening again.

Brian G. Hedges said...

Yes Greg I remember you and Mark and have regretted that I didn't get your contact information when you came!

Give me a call or send an e-mail when you get a chance. I'd like to hear how things are going.

JHG said...

I am curious if you can give some more information on the lectures [such as titles]. I am wondering if they are all online.

Thanks, James GrantIn Light of the Gospel

Brian G. Hedges said...

Sure, here are the titles as I remember them and where to get them.

*Watch Your Life and Teaching, C. J. Mahaney - TOgether for the Gospel, 2006,

*Abstain from Sexual Immorality, on 1 Thess. 4:3, by John Piper,

*Church, Congregationalism and Elders w/ John Hammett & Phil Newton, 9Marks Interview Series,

*What is the Gospel? by D. A. Carson,

*Preaching the Gospel by Tim Keller,

*Guarding the Good Deposit: The Pastor's Calling, Sinclair Ferguson,

*The Role of the Elder by D. A. Carson,

*The Passion and Power of Apostolic Preaching, Shepherds Conference 2007 by Steven Lawson,

*God, Psychology, and Christian Care of the Soul, by David Powlison,

Ron said...

the question on how to better prepare men who have suffered from years of poor teaching who are called to eldership is one that seems to grow every day. our church embarked on this same task earlier this year and found this page a great resource.

It would be helpful however, if you could provide the questionaires that you used. we discussed some method to 'self assess' in order to guide new elders to scripture and resources where they know improvement is necessary. how have you used your surveys, and what would you consider doing any differently now that you've had a little time with your current plan?

If you can provide what you are using, it would be helpful.
(Three thorough multi-page questionnaires on (1) personal life in light of the biblical qualifications listed in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3; (2) hermeneutics, biblical theology, and systematic theology; (3) philosophy of ministry)

Anonymous said...


I am getting in on this post really late but wanted to thank you for posting it. This is great. Did you have any outlines you used during the discussions you would care to share? How are things going in the church?

Taj Eaton

Anonymous said...

I guess I should have left an email address! Sorry about that.

Thanks again,