Basics of Church Eldership

Introducing the Ongoing Biblical and Cultural Importance of Eldership in the Local Church

In partnership with Bethlehem College & Seminary

The Plurality of Elders

Leadership matters. In a state of cultural disarray, elders provide necessary stability so that the members can do the work of the ministry. In the video below, Juan Sanchez discusses why a plurality of elders is not only biblical but practically necessary in periods of trial or persecution.

Juan Sanchez serves as senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. He is a graduate of the University of Florida (B.M.Ed.) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., Th.M., Ph.D.). In addition to training pastors in the United States and Latin America, Juan is also a council member of The Gospel Coalition and cofounder and president of Coalición. At the denominational level, Juan serves as recording secretary for The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and in 2016 was appointed to the faculty of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as assistant professor of Christian theology. Juan is married to Jeanine, and they live in metro Austin, along with their five daughters, two sons-in-law and two grandchildren.

Discussion Questions
  1. What is the mission of the church?
  2. How do elders maintain the focus of church members?

Resources prepared by George Luke from Bethlehem College & Seminary.

The Authority of Elders

In the following video, Pastor John Kimbell discusses challenges to the authority of elders in the life of the church. As you watch the video, make a list of challenges that you face and consider how the big picture that Kimbell paints affects how you view those challenges.

About Dr. John Kimbell

John Kimbell serves as Pastor of Preaching & Discipleship at Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He was an intern at Bethlehem Baptist Church before going on to receive his MDiv and PhD from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. John has been a pastor for seven years and is the author of The Atonement in Lukan Theology (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014). He and his wife, Sarah, have six children.

The Character of Elders

One of the qualifications for an elder is their character. What is the nature of an elder’s character? In the following lecture, Dave Russell explores the relevant issues of character and calling for an elder.

About Dave Russell

Dave Russell serves as the Senior Pastor of Oakhurst Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC.  Prior to his ministry in Charlotte, Dave served on staff at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC where he also was an elder and the founding Director of Campus Outreach DC. After 15 years of ministry with Campus Outreach, Dave led a church replanting effort to revitalize the ministry of Oakhurst Baptist Church, a 79-year- old church in the heart of Charlotte. Dave earned his MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Carrie, have four children.

The Development of New Elders

Your church is filled with men who could be elders. But they lack the desire, the qualifications, or the skills. How do you cultivate a culture of discipling where men discover the ambition to serve the church as overseers? How do you help that young believer to grow toward the qualifications of office? How do you know when he’s ready?

About Jeramie Rinne

Jeramie Rinne has served as the senior pastor of South Shore Baptist Church in Hingham, MA for the past 17 years. He is the author of Church Elders: How to Shepherd God’s People Like Jesus and How Will the World End? Jeramie is an instructor with the Simeon Trust.  He is married to his wife Jennifer and has four children.

The Unity of Elders

Often your team of elders is men with strong personalities and strong opinions of what’s best for the church. Maybe there’s a shared vision, maybe not. How do you shepherd the shepherds towards a shared vision and philosophy of ministry? How do you work through their differences, disagreements, even dislikes, so that they exemplify a unity of spirit and bond of peace for the whole church? How can you use elder meetings well?

About Eric Bancroft

Eric Bancroft serves as the Senior Pastor of Castleview Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Prior to his ministry at Castleview, Eric served on the pastoral staff at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, CA and taught as an adjunct professor at The Master’s College. Eric has earned degrees from Trinity International University (BA) and from the Master’s Seminary (MDiv). Eric is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Eric and his wife, Danelle, have three sons.

The Work of Elders

Most of an elder’s work is not done in meeting but among the sheep. What’s contained in an elder’s job description? What does his life look like through the week? How can he employ other elders, deacons, or members in the work? What does “success” look like?

About Greg Gilbert

Greg Gilbert is the Senior Pastor of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, KY.  He earned his BA from Yale University and his MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He is the author of What Is the Gospel? and the co-author of What Is the Mission of the Church, Preach: Theology Meets Practice, and The Gospel at Work: How Working For King Jesus Gives Meaning and Purpose to Our Jobs.  He also often writes for 9Marks Ministries.  Greg is married to Moriah and they have three children.

Discussion on Elders

The following panel discussion with John Kimbell, Juan Sanchez, and David Russell addresses questions about eldership as addressed in the previous sections.