Today I’m listing my Top 10 Books for Elders, with the recommendation that elders read at least one of these books on eldership every year. Why not do it together with fellow-elders? Obviously there are various church polity models represented here, but I hope you’ll find much to learn about eldership from each of the various traditions.
1. The Shepherd Leader by Timothy Witmer
I agree with Pastor Al Martin that this book should be required reading for all elders/pastors. Crystalizes the elder’s work around four verbs: Knowing, leading, protecting, providing.
Also see Witmer’s The Shepherd Leader at Home for application of the same shepherding principles to family life.
2. The Elder and His Work by David Dickson
We’ve been studying this older Scottish work at our church. It’s a short and inspiring treatment of eldership that will elevate and expand your view of eldership as well as providing much practical advice on how to fulfil your duties. You can read my notes on the book here.
3. Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch
The most comprehensive, exegetical, and theological of the books on this list. It is also the best-selling book and for good reason. Like The Shepherd Leader this book also groups the elder’s duties under four categories: leading, feeding, caring, and protecting.
And here’s a condensed and simplified Booklet Version of Biblical Eldership, which can also serve as a helpful checklist for duties
4. Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons by Thabiti Anyabwile
The majority of the book is focused on eldership. It’s a simpler and more accessible alternative to Strauch’s Biblical Eldlership. Warm, exegetical, and practical, with challenging questions for both present and prospective elders.
5. Church Elders: How to Shepherd God’s People Like Jesus by Jeremie Rinne
A fresh, concise introduction to eldership from the IX Marks Building Healthy Churches series. Also a good book to give to non-elders in the church to help them understand the elders’ roles and their spiritual relationship to them.
6. The Elder’s Handbook: A Practical Guide for Church Leaders by Lester DeKoster
Practical, conversational, and with a Dutch Reformed flavor.
7. The Trellis and The Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne
The helpful metaphor in the title of this book helps church leaders to discern if they are getting the right mix of vine work (preaching, teaching, discipleship) and trellis work (organization, administration, support work) and if the right people are doing each.
8. Conviction to Lead by Al Mohler
Although not aimed only at elders, this appears at #1 on my Top 10 Christian Leadership Books, and therefore strongly recommended for any Christian leadership position.
9. Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch
1 Timothy 3 lists two of the elder’s duties – teaching and hospitality. As the latter is often neglected, the author of Biblical Eldership wants to put that right with this brief book on hospitality. A Meal With Jesus by Tim Chester is another book on hospitality. I’ve not read it but I’ve read many good reviews.
10. How Sermons Work by David Murray
Again not a specifically for elders, but as all elders are to be “able to teach,” this simple primer on the basics of putting a biblical message together might help elders get started on their first Sunday school lesson or sermon.
The Warrant, Nature, and Duties, of the Office of the Ruling Elder, in the Presbyterian Church by Samuel Miller.
Elders in the Life of the Church by Phil Newton and Matt Schmucker
David Murray is Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog, Head Heart Hand,