When it comes to raising up future elders, one of the best strategies we have found is inviting men to participate in the Biblical Eldership study. Historically, every fall we invite five to ten men who will commit to ten weeks of an intensive study. The Biblical Eldership Study Guide is not for the faint of heart. But neither is pastoral eldership! I tell the guys that this study will require at least one hour of homework prior to the meeting (we usually meet once a week in the mornings from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. sharp to allow the men to get off to their places of work on time).
Set the bar high. Tell them, “Put in the work, and you will find this to be one of the most profitable Bible studies you have ever done.” Historically, guys who put in the effort and come prepared to ask questions, discuss, and learn from God’s Word find it to be a life-changing study. The coffee and donuts don’t hurt.
Once the class begins I, as the moderator, will go around the table, repeating the questions given in the workbook and asking guys what they wrote down. This puts a little pressure on all of the men to ensure they have thoughtfully interacted with the material ahead of time. The moderator leads the discussion and probes where needed. Follow-up questions and meetings are welcome. The guys love it.
I have led this class many times, and I am always struck by the tremendous profit it yields. Not always how you’d think, though. More often then not, the men confess they have a whole new appreciation for the work of elders and recommit to pray for and support the elders, but they realize eldership is not for them. However, those interested in pursuing eldership will be invited to the elder exposure program, which is a no-pressure invitation to sit in with the elders for eight weeks.
One last word: Widen your invitation list. Invite men who may not have any interest in eldership. The study will be a blessing to any man in the church. It will yield a harvest of good things no matter who attends. At the beginning of the first class we make the disclaimer that this study is not a promise of eldership, but it will bless you no matter how the Lord leads. He always does.
Note: For another approach to using the BE Study Guide, click here: http://biblicaleldership.com/biblical-eldership-study/