I am convinced that there are men in our congregations who have never thought about becoming leaders in the church. Maybe it is because no one has asked them to serve in some teaching/leading capacity. Or maybe they have avoided it altogether because they are too busy. In the worse case scenario, they may have good reason to avoid taking upon themselves leadership in the church, seeing how their church’s own leadership is nothing honorable or noble to aspire to. At the least, it could simply be that the church is run by a CEO at the top, with programs, structures, schedules, advertising, and a Board of Directors that resemble Starbucks more than a church.
This is why Thabiti Anyabwile‘s new book would be very helpful to church members, pastors, and churches. After reading through Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons, I find that the issues addressed and questions posed by Anyabwile confront us for such a time as this: when many evangelical churches all over our country are in decline and in desperate need of a restoration in biblical church government.
This short book is far from purely theoretical, but rather very practical. I shall refrain from summarizing it’s content or a thorough review, but I shall mention a few areas of practical application.
You could take the questions in every chapter and use them for your Pastoral Search Interviews. Yes, rip them straight out of the book; you can do that! You can surely use this book in a Men’s Ministry study to simply poke and prod the men in your church to man up, to think deeply about their spiritual maturity, to reflect personally about their own and callings in the ministry of the church. It is possible that some men have simply not thought anything of leadership in their church. Leading a ministry in the church, being an elder or deacon, these things may not have come up on their radar, since they may not have ever thought themselves to be gifted or qualified.
But what if we study 1 Timothy 3 and 4 with them, along with Anyabwile’s book here? We can surely encourage and inspire such men for growth in biblical manhood. We can sow seeds of desire for church leadership. Or better yet, we could unveil before our own eyes a man who only lacked confidence in his abilities, who does have good and godly desires to humbly serve and lead others in the church, whose aspirations could rise from overseeing the home and farm, to the office of elder or deacon. Maybe all he needed was other men who could lead him along this path of spiritual growth and leadership nurturing. Maybe he always wished one his pastors would disciple him, and groom him up for ministry, like a Timothy hoping for a Paul to show him the ropes.
This being said, Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons is a book I highly recommend. It accomplishes the goal by being a concise resource that many churches need. It even includes Sample Elder Ordination Vows in the Appendix. I plan on using this very book in the coming months for a study with the men in our church. We have young guys who should be stirred on towards leadership in the church. And we have older guys who need to be steered that their gifts at home could be used for the church. In the midst of this pool of men who aspire to the office of elder, and men who have never desired to serve in any church office, we have great hope that our task of finding faithful elders and deacons is not in vain. For our church is founded upon Christ, the solid rock upon which we stand, the Lamb of God who was slain for our sins, the Chief Shepherd of our flock.