Welcome to “Implementing Eldership,” where we provide guidelines for transitioning your church to biblical eldership (abbreviated “BE”). We praise God for your interest in not just knowing about BE, but also in implementing it in your local church.
Honoring our Lord and his commitment to the local body of Christ in this way can be exciting as well as challenging. If approached with humility, patience, and commitment to Scripture, the results will bring glory to the Head of the church, blessing to the congregation, effectiveness to the leadership, and fruitfulness to your outreach efforts.
A Change of Significant Magnitude
Modifying a church’s governmental and shepherding model involves a variety of significant challenges, including:
- holding faithful to God’s Word
- maintaining unity in the body
- acting in love and grace
- communicating clearly and carefully
- managing the change process
Count the Cost
While we provide much on this website to serve you, the real work is yours. Transitioning a church to biblical eldership is hard work, and you need to count the cost.
“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28 NASB)
Implementing biblical eldership (BE) will take considerable energy over many months, even years. There will be seemingly “endless” meetings, discussions, teaching, and explaining—and it will probably take longer than you anticipate.
There will be personal sacrifices:
- For the pastor it will mean relinquishing some authority, but it will also mean a lightening of his burden so he can focus more in the areas of his gifting.
- For leaders, it will mean sharing more significantly in the spiritual guidance of the church, but it will also mean helping shoulder the pastoral burden.
- Some people may choose to leave the church because of the change, but others will be greatly encouraged by the fresh, biblical approach to leadership.
All the sacrifices will be worth it all in the end, when the church is led by a well-functioning group of godly elders.
Every change needs a “change agent,” someone to get the ball rolling. In the case of the church, that agent is first and foremost the Holy Spirit. But the Spirit often uses human instruments to bring about His work. Any effort you put into this must be in line with his leading,
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25 NIV)
The “Implementation” process we are presenting here assumes that you, the reader, are the human change agent, at least initially. If you do not have a good grasp on biblical eldership, we encourage you to first go to our “What is Biblical Eldership?” tab and fully study the scriptural teaching on this subject.
Further, we encourage you early in this process to find others of like mind to join you as co-catalysts. This will help reduce the focus on one human leader and foster the idea of the Holy Spirit working through a plurality of leaders.
The Value of Wise Counsel
Some churches have successfully navigated the transition to BE with no outside help. Others have failed, suffering from unnecessary and avoidable mistakes. We offer seasoned insights and a process for you to use and adapt as the Lord guides. This is not intended to be a cookie-cutter approach that results in churches looking identical; rather it is a working outline, a tool to help you align your church more closely with the biblical pattern of church leadership. You can adapt it to your unique context.
In some cases, where appropriate, we can provide personal consultation and teaching, or simply some “outsider” feedback that can help you address particularly difficult situations.
“Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.” (Prov. 15:22)
The BE core team, the group behind Biblical Eldership Resources, represents over 100 years of eldership and leadership experience, has written and taught extensively on the subject of BE, and has trained and consulted with elders in many churches internationally and in many different contexts. We also network with churches and groups that have gone through the implementation process, drawing on a wide spectrum of experience-based counsel. This material you are reading represents what we consider the best advice, strategies, and resources for helping you implement BE in your church. We plan to update it as we continue to grow and gather information and insights from churches that have gone through the process.
Helps and Pointers
At every step of the way we will provide helpful ideas for dealing with the challenges you will undoubtedly encounter. Resistance to change, as most leaders know from experience, comes with the territory. It’s like turning an elephant—very hard to do if the elephant doesn’t want to turn. We will provide some insights and suggestions for managing the change and for helping the congregation understand and embrace BE as a welcome transformation for the church.
How Long Will This Process Take?
Experience shows that transitions need time in order to be done well. You can expect the process to take at least nine months, but it could take up to two years or longer, depending on the readiness of the church. Progress at your own pace according to the needs of your church’s unique situation.
Getting the Most Out of This Material
This “Implementation” material is intended to be self-serve, that is, you can use what we present, modify it, adapt it for your use—all at your own pace. But, in order to get the maximum benefit, here are some suggestions to help you gain maximum benefit:
- Pray fervently at every step of the process, for as Scripture states, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16b).
- Follow the steps in order, as each one builds upon the previous one. At times we may suggest alternative paths to take. Of course, you may adapt any of this material as you see fit for you particular situation.
- Use the downloadable worksheets to work through the various topics and ideas. They include extra articles, charts, guides and checklists that will help you through the various steps. Use the discussion questions as “mental crowbars” to help you wrestle with the material.
- Discuss each step with other leaders in the church. This provides opportunity for “iron sharpening iron.”
- Consider the additional selected readings provided throughout the material if you want more depth or breadth.
- Download and print the material when the download option is available; look for the printer symbol. For copyright information on downloading articles and materials, see our copyright button at the bottom of each page.
- Please give us your feedback, corrections of typos and mistakes, and most of all your insights and suggestions. As you go through the process of implementing BE, send us your reactions, responses and ideas—we would like to add the wisdom you gain to our pool of experience and knowledge, which we can in turn share with others. Click on Contact Us.
- Let us know if you would like a BE mentor who can help you track your progress and provide objective, outsider feedback and consultation. See our “About Us” or Contact Us.
We pray the Lord will guide you in this wonderful process of helping your church transition to BE. Our desire is that you will “grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:15-16).
For your next step, navigate to “Identify Your Scenario” in the sub-menu. There you will determine which of various scenarios you and your church fit into. This will help us guide you to the right information in the right sequence, in order to maximize the benefit to you. So, go ahead and get started!
*”Tim Curious” and “Paul Mentor” are fictitious characters created for this dialogue. Any resemblance to any conversations or anyone connected with Biblical Eldership Resources are purely coincidental.