Identify and Train Elders

Click here to read a conversation introducing this section
Paul: How did the “big decision” meeting go, Tim?

Tim: Great. Biblical eldership is now our official leadership structure. We made the transition…AND didn’t have a church split in the process! Here is a real air of expectation.

Paul: I am so glad it went well, despite the few glitches along the way. I think it is the result in large part because you have honored God in all your plans and intentions.

Tim: Probably the best “strategy” was the emphasis on prayer and seeking the Lord’s leading. There is a real sense now that the Lord Jesus Christ is the “Senior Pastor,” or as 1 Peter says, “The Chief Shepherd” of our church.

Paul: That tells me that the congregation is thinking biblically about leadership.

Tim: Yes, and that is tremendously liberating for us human leaders. It is not all on our shoulders. However, we are feeling tremendously inadequate, the interim elder team, that is.

Paul: We can help you out here. Read on…



Initial thoughts

At this point you, the transition team and the church have done a lot of work and accomplished much. But, there is still work to be done. You have interim elders, but now long-term elders need to be identified and trained. We have a one-year plan that will identify and equip godly men for becoming and functioning as elders. While elder education should become a long-term lifestyle for each elder, an initial foundational training will give a solid base for the beginning group of long-term elders.

What happens next depends on which overall approach you have taken in helping your church to this point.

Approach #1 (Function first, then Form)

If you have been following Approach #1 (Function first, then Form), then the shepherding team that has already been functioning will most naturally become the interim elder team. We call them interim because you will still need to receive congregational feedback and affirmation for the role as long-term elders. Here are some suggestions for helping you in this:

  • Submit the names of the men on the shepherding team to the congregation for their feedback. Instruct them to consider the biblical qualifications and inform the interim team if they know of any glaring disqualification for any of the men.
  • After a suitable period of time (we recommend one month), the interim team should meet to review the feedback. If there is negative feedback, two of the interim elders should follow up on the feedback to determine what action, if necessary, should be taken.
  • With much prayer and fasting (see, for example, Acts 13:1-4) the interim team determines and affirms the list of long-term elders.
  • On a given Sunday, the interim elder team announces the selection, leading the congregation in prayer and affirmation.

Approach #2 (Form first, then Function)

If your church used Approach #2, now is the time to begin the process of identifying and training long-term elders.

  • The interim elder team will be training itself, since they will be functioning as the elders during the process of training.
  • During this process, certain men of the interim elder team will need to be carrying out pastoral ministries, serving the body of believers. Those with more experience and time availability will carry the greater share of this load, while the others are being developed.
  • We recommend two different plans for your consideration. Both are excellent training programs.

Training Plan A – A year-long plan based on the book and workbook, “Biblical Eldership,” by Alexander Strauch. This will give the potential elders an excellent foundation for being elders, with emphasis on the spiritual nature and qualifications for shepherding God’s people. Click here to learn more about this program.

Training Plan B – “Relational Elder Training,” developed by Royce Curtis and CB Northwest. The material is particularly applicable for adding to an existing elder group, but it can be adapted for training the interim elders.  Click here for to learn more about this program.

What’s Next?

After elders have been trained and installed with the congregation’s affirmation, you will need to work out a plan for long-term sustainability of BE. Go on to the next section to find out how.