Although opinions are split, it seems that most believe that a formal program of training — as opposed to only personal Bible study and church Bible classes — is needed for our elders. In an effort to get some solid data, I’m posting a poll, and I may post some follow up polls as we go.
For those new to the blog, this discussion begins with Ed Stetzer on Reversing Our Decline — the Cure, Part 1 and Thinking Out Loud About Elder Training.
I’m limiting this poll to elders, former elders, ministers, and former ministers. This is not to discount the opinions of others, but to give a sense of whether, if such a program were offered, the elders and ministers would actually participate.
For those not familiar with ElderLink, it’s a one-day, annual seminar offered jointly by ACU and Lipscomb. They put the program on around the country to be in driving distance for many elderships. I am a big fan and I attend every year if possible.
It’s generally four class periods with at least 3 class choices per period, along with a couple of plenary sessions for all attendees. (And the best part is spending time with elders from other churches.) They try to offer a balance of classes on the pragmatic side (for example, legal and tax issues), doctrine (divorce and remarriage), shepherding (pastoral care for members), leadership (working with the ministerial staff, organize the church’s programs). Of course, the one-day format limits the depth at which topics can be covered.
To get emailed announcements of upcoming events, click here.
They offer top-drawer speakers and teachers, but attendance has often been weak. Part of the problem, I think, is that ACU has been so vilified by an element within the Churches that many elders are afraid to be associated with them (yes, really). And another problem is the difficulty of getting the word out when the conservative periodicals are closed to ACU and Lipscomb and there are no print progressive periodicals.
And so, the solution to the need for elder training may be as simple as getting the word out about ElderLink. Or it may be that we need more intensive training, especially for new elders.