Biblical Eldership Resources

Brothers and sisters, beginning on January 6, 2019, we at Felton Bible Church intend to take up the topic of biblical eldership in our study of God's Word, starting with a five-week preaching series.  It is my prayer and hope that this series will serve as a foundation from which to continue praying, thinking, discussing, praying, and praying some more over the course of 2019.  The general title for this sermon series is "Pastor-Elders: Servants in Love" (with appropriate topical sub-titles).  By this I hope to emphasize that love for God, and love for God's people, is the beating heart of a pastor-elder.  Biblical eldership is all about love (thanks to Tom Dwyer for a key pointer in this regard)! 


As we consider Jesus' purpose for his church with respect to biblical eldership, please avail yourself of the resources at this page (written, audio, and video).  I've arranged much of this material to parallel our planned route in preaching for the five Sundays from January 6th - February 3rd (remembering, of course, that the Holy Spirit can always change our plans).  Toward the bottom of the page, I've included additional resources that span all of the Sundays in question.  I trust that you will find this material helpful alongside our Sunday morning sermons.  


I, and others, would love to engage any questions you have or conversation you might desire pertinent to Scripture's view of pastoral leadership in the church.  May Jesus find us faithful to his Word, and to our careful, gracious, passionate, and unified love for one another.  At the end of the day, how we engage in this study - i.e. with love, quick to hear, slow to speak, and grounded in God's Word - is every bit as important as where we land at its conclusion.  


Love In Christ...P.J. 

Pastor-Elders: Servants in Love - The Church (6 Jan 19)

On October 20, 2018, the FBC Ministry Team completed a one-day retreat focused on the subject of biblical eldership.  The retreat included five sessions, the last of which was dedicated to open discussion.  You can listen to all of the recorded material beginning here and moving into the section below (Note: Apologies for the somewhat muffled sound on the audio.  Just turn up the volume!): 


1. Ministry Team Retreat Session 1: Introduction (The first session served as an introduction to the conversation, situating our consideration of biblical eldership in terms of our life at Felton Bible Church, broader theological considerations, and a little bit of church history.)


** Our Sunday School hour Post-Sermon Discussion Class will be available following service on this Sunday. 

pastor-Elders: Servants In Love - Biblical Eldership 101 (13 Jan 19)

1. Consider working through this study sheet titled Biblical Eldership Study Sheet #1.  The absolute best thing you can do with reference to biblical eldership is to immerse yourself in God's Word.  If this is the only step you take pertinent to this issue, then you have done much!  


2. Ministry Team Retreat Session 2: Biblical Elders (During the second session, we grounded ourselves in God’s Word, thinking about the “5 W’s and an H” - Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of elders.) - See Biblical Eldership Study Sheet #1 link above. 


3. See the audio seminar series below from Bethlehem Baptist Church. 


4. Listen to this hour-long sermon/lecture given by D.A. Carson, one of the leading theological voices in the Evangelical Free Church. 


5. Read the short book by Jeramie Rinnie titled Church Elders: How to Shepherd God's People Like Jesus.


6. Read the longer book by Alexander Strauch titled Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership. Alternatively, read the much shorter e-book abridged version for free.   


7. As an alternative to Strauch, consider another treatment of elders titled Elders in the Life of the Church, by Phil Newton and Matt Schmucker, published by the 9Marks ministry (see below). 


** Our Sunday School hour Post-Sermon Discussion Class will be available following service on this Sunday. 

Pastor-Elders: Servants in Love - the Wisdom of eldership (20 Jan 19)

1. Ministry Team Retreat Session 3: Culture and Wisdom (Session Three considered “Questions of Culture and Wisdom”- i.e. addressing why biblical eldership is not merely a cultural phenomenon of the early church, and briefly addressing why it is a wise practice for the body of Christ today.) 


2. "Theological Triage" is a term borrowed from Albert Mohler, the long-serving president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  It is a short-hand way of describing our efforts to distinguish, in the church (and often for ourselves), the relative importance of various matters - i.e. of doctrine (belief) or church practice.  Theological Triage is an essential and biblical practice.  It helps us distinguish where we must stand-fast in matters of belief and practice from other points that we hold in a more open-handed manner.  Click here to review P.J.'s current take on "Theological Triage."  This document will help to situate our ongoing discussion of biblical eldership.  


** Our Sunday School hour Post-Sermon Discussion Class will be available following service on this Sunday. 

Pastor-Elders: Servants in Love - Gender and beautiful complementarity (27 Jan 19)

Consider the following as a subtitle for this section: Radical Equality with Beautiful Distinctions: Men and Women in Ministry (With a Focus on Elders)


1. Consider working through this study sheet titled Biblical Eldership Study Sheet #2 - The Gender Question.  This study sheet will point you to several additional online audio resources. 


2 Ministry Team Retreat Session 4: Gender (In Session Four, we considered the “Question of Gender Roles” for Jesus’ people, especially as they pertain to the ministry of eldership.) - Biblical Eldership Study Sheet #2 - The Gender Question


3. During its retreat, the members of the FBC Ministry Team read through a portion of a document produced by The Village Church (Texas) titled: The Role of Women at the Village Church.  This document does an excellent job in laying out a biblical paradigm for the ministry of men and women in a local church.   


4. Ministry Team Retreat Session 5: Discussion Session (Note: This is only the first few minutes of the discussion session, in which we read through the above document from The Village Church.)


5. 9Marks is a ministry associated with Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C.  It works to build and strengthen churches.  The Winter 2015 issue of the 9Marks Journal addressed "Complementarianism & The Local Church." Complementarianism is a short-hand way of saying "equality with distinction" in terms of gender roles within the family and the body Christ.  I have not read this issue, but I trust 9Marks and commend this journal for your consideration. 


** Our Sunday School hour following service will consist of an all-congregation question and answer time. 

Pastor-Elders: Servants in Love - A CLosing Exhortation (3 Feb 19)

** Our Sunday School hour following service will consist of an all-congregation question and answer time. 

Hearing from An EFCA Elder - Oceanside Christian Fellowship

Recently, Pastor-Elder Joe Hellerman wrote a series of blog posts on behalf of Oceanside Christian Fellowship (an Evangelical Free Church of America congregation in El Segundo, CA).  Joe serves the body of Christ both with OCF, and as a Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Talbot School of Theology (Biola University).  In this series, Joe describes his (and OCF’s) understanding of pastoral leadership in the church undertaken by a team of co-equal pastor-elders.  I (P.J.) highly commend Joe’s words to your consideration. Posted here under the title: Blog Series on Biblical Eldership (Fall/Winter 2018), this document consolidates Joe's thoughts into one place.  It appears lengthy, but is an easy, informative, and accessible readYou can also find this blog series online at OCF’s website: https://www.ocfchurch.com/pastors-blog/.




Bethlehem Baptist and Biblical Eldership

In 1999, John Piper (then the pastor, or one of the pastors, of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota) conducted a seminar for the The Bethlehem Institute on biblical eldership.  You may find it helpful to listen through this comprehensive treatment of the issue.  As you do, please note this: Within the Bible's key parameters, the application of biblical eldership will undoubtedly look different in various instances of the local church.  As a result, please don't hear all that Piper says as a perfect fit for a similar ministry of elders at Felton Bible Church.  


TBI Session 1


TBI Session 2


TBI Session 3


TBI Session 4

Other Helpful resources

1. The document at this link includes a list of New Testament passages related to the ministry of elders. 


2. Village Church - "Leadership Round Table: Elders, Deacons & Staff" (This conversation is a good, well-rounded, practical conversation regarding elders, deacons, and staff in a local church.  For the ladies of FBC, please note that Jen Wilkin - whose studies you have benefitted from during the Thursday Morning Study - is one of the round table participants.)  


3. The following websites belong to churches that are practicing (or developing) pastoral leadership via team of pastor-elders: 


Grace Evangelical Free Church (EFCA), La Mirada, CA


SOMA Church Community (EFCA), Santa Rosa, CA


Oceanside Christian Fellowship (EFCA), El Segundo, CA


Santa Cruz Baptist, Santa Cruz, CA


Trinity Bible Church, Felton, CA


Veritas, Fayetteville, NC


Bethlehem Baptist, Minneapolis, MN


Capitol Hill Baptist, Washington D.C. 

Comments and Observations from the fbc family...

Just today (7 Jan 19), one of the sisters in our FBC family sent me an observation that struck her while reading in Numbers after our first sermon in this series on biblical elders.  I've added this section to the resource page in order to capture her thought, and any other worthy thoughts or observations that might edify everyone as we progress through this study.  So, if you have a thought, comment, or observation that you'd like to share, please send it to me (P.J.) at pjdavis@feltonbiblechurch.org.  If it seems worthy of posting, I'll include it in this section (without your name).  I apologize in advance for any editorial decisions I make as the arbiter of "worthy" when it comes to this page!:


Observation on 7 Jan 19 - While reading in Numbers, one of the sisters in our congregation described having an "aha" moment associated with this passage (Numbers 11:16-17, ESV): "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you.  And I will come down and talk with you there.  And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone." 


(P.J.'s Editorial Comment - What a great observation!  While there isn't a one-for-one parity between the function of elders in Old Testament Israel and the New Testament Church, the former undoubtedly influenced the church's sense of the latter.  In short, the idea of "elders" was not a new one per se to first century believers, particularly Jewish believers.)