The New Elder’s Handbook by Greg Scharf and Arthur Kok provides readers with a field-tested approach to training elders in the local church. The book is arranged in three parts, each of which is summarized below.
The first part sets forth the biblical qualifications for the office of elder. Scharf and Kok refuse to cut corners here. In a clear and meticulous fashion, they spell out what Scripture demands: “Doctrinal accuracy is indispensable for elders, but it is not enough to preserve the health of the church. Truth must shape life, and the truth must be taught to others.” Elders are called upon in Scripture to be men of character, knowledge, and skill. This model is the framework or template that allows elders to see how close they match the biblical expectations. The authors argue that truth must be faithfully transferred: “The best way to keep the gospel safe is to faithfully teach it to those who are equally able to teach it to others.”
Ezra is presented as an example of a godly man who grows spiritually as he subjects himself to the Word of God and immerses himself in prayer, and is guided by the Holy Spirit. Such is the life of a biblically qualified elder.
Part two focuses on seventy-five questions for new or prospective elders. Carefully reasoned and biblical responses are offered along with pertinent resources to help candidate mature in their character, knowledge, and skill. This section is an invaluable aid for churches who need practical help in the training process.
Part three provides a template for personal discipleship. Each lesson is guided by a set of Scriptures and questions are included for maximum growth. Suggested assignments are given at the end of each lesson.
The New Elder’s Handbook is a strong resource that will likely receive strong reception by the local church. Current elders will be strengthened by this material, and prospective elders will be trained in a biblical manner that will help ensure that leaders are in place for years to come.