October 23, 2013

Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons

Sounds like a Pastor book

Yeah, it sort of does. And it sort of is. It was written by Thabiti Anyabwile, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman (and blogger at The Gospel Coalition and The Front Porch). So, the first thing I want to do in approaching Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), is answer the following question:

Why should you, who are probably not a pastor, read a book about finding faithful elders and deacons?

This is a totally legitimate question. But the answer is pretty simple. In this book Thabiti Anyabwile walks us through the characteristics and qualities required of a man called to the offices of elder and deacon. These are qualities to which all Christian men should aspire (perhaps excepting the aptitude to teach). And while you may not be a man in the position of making decisions on these matters, or a man actively desiring a position in the eldership or deaconate, or a man at all, this is information with which you need to be familiar. Having qualified leadership, and thus knowing what constitutes qualified leadership, in the church is critical to the church accomplishing her mission.

This is a very short (173 pages, including notes) and accessible book. No single chapter exceeds 8 pages, and most are 4-6. Much of that space is given to helpful questions and thoughts for application of the truth explained.

3 Parts

This book breaks into three sections, Finding Table Servants (Deacons), Finding Reliable Elders, and What Good Pastors Do. Using Scripture as his map, and 1 Timothy chapters 3 & 4 particularly, Pastor Anyabwile walks us through what good deacons and elders look like, and do. While the entire book was good, I thought the first section, Finding Table Servants, to be particularly enlightening. As someone who has grown up in church, and who has served in the position of deacon, I have found there to be precious little teaching or clarity as to what exactly it is that deacons do. I believe many churches would do well to purchase a copy of this book for each of the deacons, just to study the first 43 pages.

Quotes that provoked me

“If a man is not given to discipling others, it’s unlikely that he is called to the pastoral office” (pg 11)

“Though God sets the bar for pastoral ministry necessarily high, he uses the poles of grace to support that bar.” (pg 16)

“The word of a deacon ought to be one of the strongest guarantees in the church.” (pg 29)

“An elder must be a person who bridles himself.” (pg 68)

“Teaching is central part of proclaiming the gospel and making disciples.” (pg 77)

“It’s worth considering whether they [a man’s children] would support their father as worthy of the office [of elder].” (pg 98)

“A church should make sure that a man has a good facility in the basics of the faith even before asking him to teach young children.” (pg 100)

“A pastor’s study and preparation should be, in the best sense of the word, devotional.” (pg 124)

“To think of him [Christ] often and long is itself joy.” (pg 162) 


This is an important book, not just for church leadership, for for laymen as well. I highly recommend it. 

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About Me

Follower of Jesus. Husband of one. Father of four. Pastor at Remsen Bible Fellowship (remsenbible.com).