Elders, Plural-Elder Church Leadership

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Elders, Plural-Elder Church Governance

This section is designed for churches that follow a model of Plural-Elder Church Leadership.


Most literature on this subject is written from the standpoint of “church government” or “church governance.” This has a somewhat cold, corporate feel to me, and I would like to avoid the language altogether, but it is the terminology adopted by most ministry resources. My strong preference is to see church leadership through the dominant biblical metaphor of shepherding, which has a more relational emphasis. Seen through this lens:

The “older” and spiritually mature wisdom figures/exemplars of the faith (elders, Gk., presbuteroi) must indeed “oversee” (bishop, Gk. episkopos) the affairs of the church, but should do this fundamentally as “shepherds” (Gk., poimen) who are compassionately devoted to the spiritual nurture of their flocks.

Most all who practice plural-elder church government would affirm this, but often the structural function overpowers the spiritual and relational, sometimes even resulting in a hierarchical or even impersonal and mechanical leadership ethos.

A somewhat related but distinct area is Policy Governance such as the model by John and Miriam Carver. This should not be equated with plural-elder church government, but they are often tied together. See the separate Ministry Resources on Policy Governance.

The ministry resources listed below cover a good range of issues relative to the elder role. Follow the links to the resources for more detailed summaries. Please remember to check the list at the bottom of the page for related ministry resources.

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Top Recommendation Overall

Theology – Comparative Views of Church Government

Research on the Elder Role

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Emphasis on Relational Shepherding

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Emphasis on Empowerment (See also the section on Empowering Leadership)

First Reads:

Other Helpful Resources:

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Emphasis on Congregational Oversight

First Read:

Other Often-Mentioned Resources (alphabetical order):

Resources on Elders Meetings and Spiritual Discernment (suggested order):

Resources on Elder Selection:

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Related Ministry Resources

Other Ministry Resource Guides:

See Resources on Over 100 Areas of Christian Ministry:

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