I've received quite a few emails and comments about what books we will use for our Elder Discovery and Development process. This process is designed to help potential leaders better understand the nature of ministry, their calling, and essential theological distinctives of our church, and how all of this should mesh together. So while the reading list for those men who are formally in the elder ministry will look different, this is what we are using when taking men through this initial process. It is important to note that the reading is preparation and orientation for my teaching on these subjects.
Basic Ecclesiology: Here I will be hitting the nature and purpose of the church, what constitutes a true church, and the essence of elder ministry. In this first group all of the men are reading What is a Healthy Church by Dever, and Strauch's booklet on Elders (not the actual book). Advanced reading would come into play inside the elder ministry, or if men in the D&D process were ready to move on to something like Clowney's The Church.
Focused Ecclesiology: I will emphasize the "misional church" concept during the teaching. In this first group all of the men are reading The Radical Reformission by Driscoll. This is a fun book to read that hits on a lot of important subjects and points to the idea of a missional church. Alternate title could have been, The Essence of the Church by Van Gelder, or The Missional Church by Guder.
Personal Life and Godliness: I will be teaching on the relationship between godliness and grace, standards and qualifications for leadership, and integrity. In preparation for this the men have the option of reading The Practice of Godliness by Bridges, or Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Whitney, or The Godly Man's Picture by Watson - and a whole host of other titles.
Focused Theology: Here I will be teaching on "Reformed theology," and its connection to pastoral ministry. What? Soteriology has implications for how we do ministry? Go figure. Men can read Putting Amazing Back Into Grace by Horton, The Sovereignty of God by Pink, or selections from a systematic theology.
Focused Ministry Interest: This will depend on the individual. Men will dive further into areas of interest via books on leadership, preaching, cultural engagement, family worship, corporate worship, men's ministry, etc.
Once men are set apart for the elder ministry leadership development will continue as we focus on theology, methodology and leadership skills. I view one of my primary ministries as the development of leadership, the elders in particular, so that all are equipped to teach the truth, defend the church from heresy, and lead God's people to serve the community as God's missionary people. This means we will read through a wide range books like Father, Son and Holy Spirit by Ware, Leading with Love by Strauch, and Being Leaders, Building Leaders and Leading Leaders all by Aubrey Malphurs as well as the classics and selections from the great systematic theologies.
This is what we are doing in our context with the people in our first D&D group. As always, I'd love to hear what you are doing in your church. We are ready to learn from others as we navigate our way through our first year as a church.