Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Gospel Eldership: Equipping a New Generation of Servant Leaders by Robert Thune

Gospel Eldership: Equipping a New Generation of Servant Leaders by Robert Thune. New Growth Press. 144 pages. 2016

I first became aware of this book when it was used as a part of a soft skills module I was helping lead in our NXTGEN Pastors Cohort. We then decided that another elder from our church and I would read the book to see if it might be a resource that would be helpful to use in our church.

The book was written with three primary audiences in mind.

  • Current elders
  • Elders-in-training
  • Christians who are seeking to better understand the Bible’s teaching about local church leadership.

The book consists of ten short lessons, each with an objective, a scripture reading and discussion questions. Each lesson is followed by an exercise, which includes a section for personal reflection and Gospel application.

The author has found that you will get the best results when the book is used as a small-group study. He writes that ideally a current elder or spiritual mentor should lead a group of emerging leaders through the content, which is how I can see it being used in our church. This book not only shares information about what the Bible says about elders, but it really gets at the heart of those who are or may one day be an elder.

The author writes that God intends for his church to be led by godly leaders known as elders. One office—the office of local church elder—is referred to under three titles: elder, pastor, and overseer/bishop. The office of elder-pastor is to be filled by men. The author tells us that if a church is to be healthy, its elders must be men who are grounded and rooted in the gospel. That is the crucial gap in many churches today, and that is the weakness that the book is designed to address.

The book includes two appendices:

APPENDIX A: Functional & Formative Eldership
APPENDIX B: Supplemental Resources

Gospel Eldership will be a helpful resource for the church in mentoring future or new elders.

Here are twelve helpful quotes from the book:

  1. The world’s default model of leadership, practiced over centuries and across cultures, is about being served. Jesus expects his followers to be servant leaders. And he’s come to make them just that. Jesus is our example. He is the ultimate Servant Leader.
  2. Gospel leadership is servant leadership;
  3. We cannot be the servant leaders Jesus commands us to be without believing the good news of the gospel.
  4. Jesus is the head of the church. And Jesus has taught us how he wants his church to be led. Our job is to follow his blueprint.
  5. Eldership is much less about competence than about character.
  6. If you haven’t built a consistent habitual practice of spiritual disciplines, you shouldn’t expect to grow in godly character.
  7. The categories of character, competence, and compatibility form a “triangle” of biblical leadership qualifications.
  8. Elders are shepherds of God’s flock.
  9. Elders must be men of the Word. They must love, treasure, memorize, and meditate on the Scriptures.
  10. A good elder knows that he leads the flock well by leading himself well.
  11. Unless a man has proven that he has the skill and ability to lead other leaders, he should not be leading as an elder in God’s church.
  12. If elders are living missionary lives, loving, and serving non-Christians, the church will be doing so as well. If elders are failing in mission, the church will not be missional.