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.
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
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
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
*The differences between Dispensationalism, Covenant Theology, and New Covenant Theology
*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
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.