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4 Stars Out Of 5
Finding (and being) faithful elders and deacons
June 13, 2012
When I started reading this book, I was looking for biblical suggestions for finding those who would be effective leaders within our church. While I did receive that, I was more challenged to take a long and serious look at myself as a pastor. Am I personally being a faithful leader? Drawing primarily from Paul's list of the spiritual qualities that are to characterize the leader, Anyabwile's exposition of 1 Timothy 3 is practical and commendable. He proceeds verse-by-verse and phrase-by phrase through that text, charging prospective leaders and those who search for them to pay close attention to the Lord's requirements. The first part of the book addresses the qualifications for serving as a deacon, and the second (and longer) portion deals with the qualifications of an elder. The strength of the author's message intensifies as one proceeds through the book, so the reader is urged to not let the slow start deter him. By the book's end, I was forced to take stock of my own life and ministry...and that made the journey through its pages worth the time and effort invested. I would have liked to have found a greater biblical distinction drawn between the roles of deacon and elder for those of us in the Southern Baptist tradition (who often blend them). This small volume may not offer everything the title promises, but it is a very helpful and clear place to begin. Thabiti Anyabwile communicates from a pastor's heart, which is why pastors anticipating the election or appointment of leaders within his church should read it. I would also recommend it to those men who are being considered to fill those roles. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ deserves the best qualified leaders it can find, and it is precisely that for which the author pleads.
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.
The issue of leadership always seem to be an issue in any church. Who are the leaders of the church and what qualifies them? Some churches put their qualifications in their by-laws and constitution without referring to what the Bible says about who can lead the church.
This book, Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons by Thabiti Anyabwile, the latest book from 9 Marks, addresses the issue of what qualifies a leader in the church. This book is based on the teachings of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, on the qualifications of elders and deacons. The book is divided into three sections: Finding Table Servants, Finding Reliable Elders, and What Good Pastors Do.
The first section deals with finding deacons to serve in the church. Anyabwile refers back to Acts 6 where the deacon ministry began in the church and went through what qualifies them as deacons from 1 Timothy 3. The second section deals with searching for elders, which takes up majority of the book. The third section deals with the role of a pastor and what they should do using various scripture passages.
The chapters are short and to the point. The book is an easy read and even great for all in church leadership especially church planters that are getting a new church plant started. This book will also be a good for those who are leaders in a church that are reforming it to get back to the Biblical model of church leadership.