The New Elder's Handbook

A Biblical Guide to Developing Faithful Leaders

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A proven process to proactively call and train church elders

Pastors and church leaders are in need of mature, godly elders to ensure church health, but the training of elders is often entirely missing or badly neglected. The New Elder's Handbook is designed to equip elders with the knowledge, character, and skills the office calls for. It takes church leaders through the development of a vision for ministry, recruitment of elders to carry out that vision, and specific, biblical training to intentionally develop elders.

"A skillfully designed resource for pastors and church leaders who are serious about developing the next generation of church leaders for their congregations. With its focus on vision, training, discipling, and selection, this thoughtful handbook provides invaluable guidance for the formation of faithful leaders."--David S. Dockery, president, Trinity International University / Trinity Evangelical Divinity School


Greg R. Scharf is professor emeritus of homiletics and pastoral theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is author of Prepared to Preach, Relational Preaching, and Let the Earth Hear His Voice. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and is a past president of the Evangelical Homiletics Society.

Arthur Kok is director of training for the Orchard Network, where he trains lay ministry leaders and equips future pastors, church planters, and missionaries. He previously served in China and Singapore, where he focused on training next-generation Christian leaders.


Endorsements

"The New Elder's Handbook is a skillfully designed resource for pastors and church leaders who are serious about developing the next generation of church leaders for their congregations. With its focus on vision, training, discipling, and selection, this thoughtful handbook provides invaluable guidance for the formation of faithful leaders through a comprehensive process built on scriptural principles and informed by leadership experience and life lessons. Greg Scharf and Arthur Kok are to be congratulated on providing clarity for many who desire to intentionally engage in this important ministry in the life of the church. I gladly and joyfully recommend this work."

David S. Dockery, president, Trinity International University / Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"It has been well established that New Testament churches were led by a plurality of elders and that such a model is ideal for today's church. But wanting elders and having qualified elders are sometimes miles apart. This book bridges the gap by providing a helpful strategy and practical suggestions for current leaders to develop faithful leaders to help shepherd the church of God. Those of you who aspire to serve as elders will benefit greatly from this book."

Benjamin L. Merkle, professor of New Testament and Greek, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

"The New Elder's Handbook offers a wealth of biblical wisdom and practical resources for disciple making and leadership development. I warmly recommend this helpful book to current and aspiring elders who desire to put into practice 2 Timothy 2:2 and entrust the gospel to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."

Brian J. Tabb, academic dean, Bethlehem College & Seminary; elder, Bethlehem Baptist Church

"This book applies the wisdom and experience of a seasoned pastor and pastoral-theology professor (and the perspective of a young protégé) to the critical task of raising up wise and godly leaders in and for the local church. I found this thoroughly biblical and eminently practical handbook a much-needed encouragement to be more intentional in this work, and I will profit from the clear model it presents."

Bill Kynes, senior pastor, Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church, Annandale, VA

"The corporate leadership of any organization is often a litmus test of its overall health. In the church, this is also true. Healthy Christian leadership often leads to general well-being in the congregation it serves. But how do you develop leaders of integrity, skill, humility, and faithfulness? In The New Elder's Handbook Greg Scharf and Arthur Kok masterfully address these issues as they weave together robust theological engagement with eminently practical wisdom on the means of selecting and developing faithful Christian leaders. This work provided a timely reminder of the importance of character and competency in Christian leadership and is a welcome addition to the much-needed field of Christian leadership."

Malcolm Gill, lecturer in Greek, New Testament, and homiletics, Center for Preaching and Pastoral Ministry, Sydney Missionary & Bible College

"Churches often select elders by the 'good guy' principle. A nominating group scours the church directory for someone who is well regarded, who shows up regularly, and has a clear faith in Christ. But 'good guys' don't necessarily make good elders. In this book, Greg Scharf and Arthur Kok lay out a plan for selecting prospective elders and then rigorously discipling them in Christian practice and doctrine. They emphasize the significance of working with a group of men in this endeavor. Seventy-five lessons ensure wide-ranging biblical preparation. You will not find a more thorough plan anywhere else for the theological preparation of those entrusted with being shepherds of God's flock."

Lee Eclov, senior pastor, Village Church of Lincolnshire (IL); author of Pastoral Graces: Reflections on the Care of Souls

"One of the greatest needs in the church today is the training and development of leaders. One of the greatest gaps in the church is a commitment to engage in leadership training and the resources to carry it out. Greg Scharf and Arthur Kok have provided the church with an invaluable resource in The New Elder's Handbook: A Biblical Guide to Developing Faithful Leaders. With Ezra 7:10 as a model, they focus on training leaders in the three domains of knowledge, character, and skills, which means the elders-in-training will commit themselves to study, obedience, and teaching. This is not just a how-to book on leadership. Rather, grounded in the Scriptures, it has a practical and pastoral focus, with learning taking place in community with others. I am elated this book is now available. The reason I know this model works is that I learned from the early days of this material, and I used an adaptation of it in the leadership training I did during my time as a pastor. With the publication of this exemplary work, the gap of resources is filled. Take up, read, apply, and see the leadership culture of the church be transformed."

Greg Strand, executive director of theology and credentialing, Evangelical Free Church of America; adjunct professor of pastoral theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Anyone who wants to raise up future leaders should read this book, first because of the program it offers and second because of the method it champions. Presenting theological and practical questions to a small group of future leaders and challenging them to come up with biblical answers will produce rapid growth in the lives of those you mentor."

Colin S. Smith, senior pastor, The Orchard Evangelical Free Church, Arlington Heights, IL

"In many ways, the spiritual health of a local church is related to the spiritual health of its leaders. Nonetheless, many churches struggle to recruit and develop leaders--particularly those who can serve as elders. Is there a way to do this well? Is there an intentional process that can work in your context to prepare individuals for eldership? If you have wrestled with these questions, you need this book. Not only does it provide insight for selecting and recruiting elders, it also provides a field-tested approach to training and preparing them. If you desire to see a thriving elder team in your local church, take advantage of the wisdom of this resource."

George Davis, senior pastor, Hershey Free Church, Hershey, PA

"I teach pastors and church leaders in East Africa. Churches are multiplying, but the leadership of many is seriously deficient. If this book were read and applied, it would make a tremendous difference in that spiritually vital and strategic region of the world."

Jonathan Menn, director, Equipping Church Leaders-East Africa; author of Biblical Eschatology

"I've been a pastor for the past twenty years, and I unreservedly recommend this book. I can recommend it to men with a desire to become faithful elders and to the pastors who want to help shepherd them in the pursuit of that noble desire. I can recommend it because I am a product of what it describes. I was in Dr. Scharf's elders-in-training group at Salem Evangelical Free Church in the mid-90s. I now serve Salem as senior pastor, and I know just how important a well-trained elder can be for the local church. This handbook is eminently usable, biblically rich, and very timely. I look forward to using it with my current elders and to training and discipling new elders with it for the future health of our church. A big thank you from a past elder-in-training to Dr. Scharf and his former student Arthur Kok for giving us all access to the years of practical wisdom found in these pages!"

Glen Stevens, senior pastor, Salem Evangelical Free Church, Fargo, ND, and Moorhead, MN

"The authors clearly teach the biblical view of church elders and church leadership--God's plan as taught by his Word. This book stands out from others on the subject of elders and growing leaders for churches in that authors Scharf and Kok have carefully assembled a complete series of practical studies and learning objectives that consistently call the reader to careful study of the Word of God, prayer, and growth in the knowledge and fullness of Christ together with other like-minded believers. Those seeking to be equipped as elders as well as those already called as elders will benefit from the study guides and the rich reference material cited by the authors. Throughout this book, the authors' love of God, his Son Jesus Christ, his church, and his people shines brightly."

Pete Alle, elder and church vice-chair, The Orchard Evangelical Free Church, Arlington Heights, IL

"The New Elder's Handbook is an excellent resource for any church committed to the vital task of discerning and appointing qualified elders. Full of biblical wisdom and practical guidance, it not only casts a vision for this task but also offers a 'structured journey' (developed and used in a local-church context) that will help elders and prospective elders patiently discern God's will together for the health of our churches."

David H. F. Ng, program leader for Master of Missional Leadership, Melbourne School of Theology

"Healthy churches grow under the leadership of faithful elders, yet many churches struggle to identify and train elders for the task of shepherding the church. Scharf and Kok offer a helpful resource that utilizes biblical examples and employs wisdom from pastoral experience to address this need. The health of the church is at stake, and this handbook is a valuable tool for the worthwhile task of raising up elders."

Nick Gatzke, senior pastor, Old North Church, Canfield, OH

"This book does a wonderful job of focusing on developing healthy lay leaders for the church. It is biblical, practical, and readable. It is a wonderful resource for anyone aspiring to church leadership or charged with the responsibility of training leaders. It is also a useful tool for selecting and choosing elders for the church. The highlight for me was the way it used Scripture to present God's plan for church eldership."

Bill Bradish, lay leader and former elder, The Orchard Evangelical Free Church, Arlington Heights, IL

"I'm frequently asked, 'How do you train up men to serve as elders?' Greg Scharf and Arthur Kok have provided an excellent tool toward that aim. The New Elder's Handbook emphasizes personal reflection in God's Word in the context of community under the guidance of a mentor. That trio of personal study, community, and mentorship equates to biblical discipleship. That's the best way to train up potential elders. Greg and Arthur thoughtfully set forth seventy-five questions to research, ponder, and discuss as potential elders prepare for the challenge of shepherding a congregation. Highly recommended!"

Phil A. Newton, senior pastor, South Woods Baptist Church, Memphis, TN; author of The Mentoring Church


The Authors

  1. Greg R. Scharf
    © Kathleen Murray

    Greg R. Scharf

    Greg R. Scharf is professor emeritus of homiletics and pastoral theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is author of Prepared to Preach, Relational Preaching, and Let the Earth Hear His Voice. He is a member of the...

    Continue reading about Greg R. Scharf

  2. Arthur Kok

    Arthur Kok

    Arthur Kok is director of training for The Orchard Network, where he trains lay ministry leaders and equips future pastors, church planters, and missionaries. He previously served in China and Singapore, where he focused on training next generation Christian...

    Continue reading about Arthur Kok


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