Should elders and deacons be trained? If so, how?
- Principle 1: Churches should not give the responsibility of eldering to those who are not already eldering. Rather, they should nominate men who meet the biblical qualifications and are already doing the work. Nothing magical happens when a church calls a man to elder. Rather, it simply recognizes publicly what he already is.
- Application of that principle: This means churches should not assume that putting a man through something like an elder “training course” will make a man into elder. Pastors should be wary therefore of offering courses to men which, upon completion, automatically translate into becoming an elder, like law school produces lawyers or medical school produces doctors.
- Another application: The same basic principle applies to the office of deacon.
- Principle 2: Pastors and elders have the biblical responsibility to train other men for pastoral ministry (2 Tim. 2:2). This means discipling other men and encouraging them to develop an elder-like ministry within the church.
- Application of the principle: Such training can occur both individually (in relationship together) and in groups (for instance, in a theological reading group).
- Principle 3: Elders, being men typified by the love of God’s Word and God’s sheep, should be interested in continually growing in the knowledge of Scripture, doctrine, and pastoral application—for the sheep’s sake.
- Application of that principle: Elders should consider prescribing themselves a reading course on matters of controversy and practical theology. For instance, all the elders can agree to study topics like divorce and remarriage, dating and courtship, the mission of the church, and other pastoral issues. This allows the them to grow individually and to develop a common mind on important matters.