Spiritual eldership is something lived and recognized, not something attained. That said, growing into eldership requires guidance. Bob Thune’s book helps potential elders—and potential leaders at any level, for that matter—to get some of that guidance and training, and in a way that’s substantial without being overwhelming.
Robert H. Thune. Gospel Eldership: Equipping a New Generation of Servant Leaders. 144p., $14.99, New Growth Press.
(Disclosure alert: I was editor for this book. Of course, that’s just another reason why you should buy it.)
This book is set up so that elder training can be done in smaller groups, and includes practical exercises and discussion questions for each of the ten lessons here. As such, it makes a nice complement for books such as Oswald Sanders’ Spiritual Leadership or Alexander Strauch’s Biblical Eldership (the latter being a heavy influence on this volume). There’s a good amount of content here, but again in this form it’s manageable for people to process.
And again, there’s that “living” thing. The emphasis here, refreshingly, is not on “leadership skills” but on living in a way that reflects Christ—because, as an elder, you need to to be doing that, far more importantly than knowing business principles, etc. Thus, lessons and exercises focus on such matters as having a servant heart, dealing with false righteousness, inculcating spiritual disciplines, having a missional focus, and dealing with temptation (including those temptations that are peculiar to spiritual leadership).
It’s worth noting that Bob is coming from a complementarian position here when it comes to eldership, rather than an egalitarian one. (In layman’s terms: Only men can serve as elders.) If that’s a stumbling block, so be it. If not and/or if you’re on the fence about it, there’s plenty here worth processing, regardless of your own/your church’s position on eldership.
And again: All of us had better be on a path toward spiritual maturity. And if you are, there’s plenty to be gleaned from Gospel Eldership, whether you’re ready to become “that elder guy” or not.