“Throughout the course of history God has worked in the world in a variety of ways through individuals, nations, and peoples. The focus of His present work is the church. That which was begun in Scriptures, as men and women were called to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ, continues today in fulfillment of Christ’s promise to build His church. Not only is Christ building His church, but it is the primary instrument through which He ministers in the world.”
~Robert Saucy, The Church in God’s Program~
First Timothy 3:1 says, “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.” To serve as an overseer or elder in a local church is a noble ambition. It is also a sobering responsibility. Every group of local church elders and each potential elder should feel this weight as they consider serving in or appointing a man to this position of leadership, for we must not “lay hands upon anyone too hastily” (1 Timothy 5:22). At the same time, we must be actively seeking to identify, equip, and appoint elders to continue the work of ministry (Titus 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:2).
Elders should not be appointed without the church carefully evaluating a man’s qualifications and giftedness. If a church is careful to train and select qualified men for eldership, the church will benefit from the elders’ corporate wisdom, biblical shepherding, and faithful guarding of the church’s doctrine and practices. A failure on the part of the church and church leadership to properly evaluate a potential elder will likely result in a church becoming increasingly less spiritual. Elders must be theologically sound and biblically wise to serve God’s church.
Becoming a Biblical Elder is intended to assist in the process of preparing a man to become an elder in the local church. It does this by providing a clear and directed plan for elder mentorship that includes Bible knowledge, theology, and elder orientation. It is a companion resource to Becoming a Biblical Leader, a more general introduction to leadership in the church. That resource is a helpful first step in equipping potential elders and other church leaders.
Once a man has been identified as an elder candidate, Becoming a Biblical Elder provides more specific preparation and orientation for serving as an elder by facilitating individual study and interaction with a mentor. Ideally, that mentor would currently be serving as an elder.
Paul reminds elders that they serve the church of God (Acts 20:28). He is the One who established the church and has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). Christ’s love for the church is so great that He gave His life for it (Ephesians 5:2, 25).
We must understand that it is a privilege beyond measure to serve in God’s church. Think about it: what better way to spend your life than for those for whom Christ gave His life?
The truth is that you can fritter your life away on multitudes of things that have no eternal value. But the church is the object of Christ’s love and you can participate in leading God’s church.
When our Lord was on this earth He made it clear that His children should bear much fruit.
This workbook is intended to help men who have an interest in becoming an elder evaluate their own life with respect to the Scriptures. The Bible is very clear on what it means to be an elder, including the qualifications, responsibilities and accountability associated with being in such an important position in Christ’s church. It is not something to be entered into lightly. The format is designed for you to interact with the material. Before seriously considering or accepting the office of elder you should carefully consider what the Scriptures teach concerning this office.
Able to Teach Checklist
This self-evaluation workbook provides a practical way for an individual elder to carefully evaluate his own life. The apostle Paul reminds Timothy that a regular, personal self-evaluation is extremely important for Christian leaders.
“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).
Leadership is a crucial element of the church. Your role as an elder will provide many opportunities for you to impact the lives of God’s children. It is a blessed responsibility.