Plan for Sustainability

Click here to read a conversation introducing this section
Paul: Hey, Tim. It’s been over a year since we last talked. How’s it going?

Tim: Life is starting to get back to normal. A new kind of normal, that is.

Paul: Why doesn’t that surprise me?

Tim: Yeah, we now have long-term elders in place (I’m one of them). And we are learning to adjust to the rhythms and cycles of shepherding, as well as continuing on with all our other responsibilities as individuals.

Paul: Are you overwhelmed?

Tim: At first I was, that is, until we learned how to flow with it all, rather than obsess with it.

Paul: Well, it continues to be a learning process. You need to put a plan into place that will prevent you and your fellow elders from burning out, and to ensure there will be continuous additions to your elders group.

Tim: That sounds like a great idea. Does anyone have something put together on this?

Paul: As a matter of fact, we do. I thought that about now you would be needing some help.

Tim: One of the things I’ve learned since starting the transition is to learn from others so that we don’t have to make the same unnecessary mistakes.

Paul: You have learned well. Oh, and one other thing, would you and your church be willing to be a “mentor-church” to help other churches going through the same transition?

Tim: I’m sure the elders and congregation would love to do that. In fact, we have made up a list of ways you at Biblical Eldership Resources can improve your material.

Paul: Thanks, send us your feedback and we will add it to what we have, so that we can be constantly improving.

Tim: No problem. Glad to be of help.



The burden of the shepherding the church is distributed among a group of men, who are biblically qualified. Most of them will be employed full-time in secular jobs, have family responsibilities and carry on their own individual ministries. Burnout can easily occur resulting in elders leaving the shepherding ministry or their effectiveness being reduced. Additionally, as the church grows the work of shepherding also grows. Further, over time natural attrition will take place due to aging and relocations. It becomes clear that a well-thought out plan for sustainability must be built into the ministry of eldership.

Two separate issues, therefore, need to be addressed in order to keep the practice of pastoral eldership functioning well in the local church. The first has to do with the encouragement, protection and growth of the existing elders. The second issue has to do with insuring a steady flow of new qualified and trained elders.

So click on the “Sustaining Existing Elders” link followed by “Adding New Elders.”