One of the most frequent requests to Carey’s Centre for Lifelong Learning (CCLL) is for church eldership resources. Mike Crudge shares five ways to strengthen your eldership team and introduces a new resource for elders.

1. Get to know each other better

The more any group or team know each other personally, the easier the relating and communicating becomes for tasks at hand. Eat together—depending on your rhythm of meeting, perhaps once a month start with a meal together. Get to know each other’s families. Practise hospitality together—perhaps two elders’ families could invite a new family at church for a meal together. Care for each other—let people see how you care for one another.

2. Worship God together

Regularly set aside valuable time as a group to communicate together to God how amazing God is. There are many ways this can be done. Ask each other how you most naturally worship God, and over time allow each person to lead the group in this way. This could be the nucleus of your church’s culture of generosity and worship.

3. Learn together

Is there an area or topic that would be helpful to work through together—perhaps a particular aspect of Scripture, or a te reo Māori course. Learn each other’s strengths and personality traits; there are several tools that can help with this that are fun to do together: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Enneagram, StrengthsFinder. Experts are available to help get the most from this. Does your eldership understand compliance obligations? Martyn Norrie’s recent book Good Governance is Worth the Effort: a Handbook for Christian Churches and Charities in Aotearoa is a must‑read. Consider working through this book together as an eldership group.1 The Baptist National Centre has an intranet with manuals and policy documents on a wide range of things to do with the local church; explore this together. Perhaps you could do a helpful online video series designed to be worked through with eldership and board groups.

4. Do an annual audit of your work together

As elders, how has your work together gone over the last year? Have you been doing what is expected of you as elders? What has been done well? Are there areas that need more or less focus in the year ahead? Are you becoming more or less biblical? Where has God been seen? You could create a simple annual audit framework on a piece of paper that gets circulated at the same time each year for pondering and reflection together.

5. Be a mentor

Have at least one person in your faith family with whom you can spend time sharing life and faith insights, and spur them on in their faith and leadership development. Perhaps have coffee together once a month, or invite them for a meal or walk. Ask someone if they would like to do this with you over the next six months. Sometimes it’s hard to find new elders; you might find the next generation comes out of the group being mentored. Learn from biblical examples of mentoring.

Better Church Elders online video series

In this new online video series, Baptist National Leader Charles Hewlett interviews people on the following topics: The Bible and Eldership, Eldership and Governance, Models of Eldership, Bringing the Bible into Decision Making, Maintaining Healthy Eldership Relationships, and Strengthening our Eldership Team. The videos are 15‑20 minutes each, and come with a group study guide. This online video series can be purchased for NZ$120. New Zealand Baptist Churches get 50% off using promo code NZBAPTIST. See lifelonglearning.nz/elders.

Contributor: Dr Mike Crudge

Mike facilitates the Carey Centre for Lifelong Learning which primarily exists to resource and support people in church leadership roles (formal and informal). He has been a pastor in two church contexts, and is now a member of Royal Oak Baptist Church.

There is an eight-month online Guided Learning option called Good Governance, facilitated by Martyn Norrie, that slowly works through his book. Join a cohort that together engages with the material, including reflecting on your own context. Starts 10 February 2020: lifelonglearning.nz/guided-learning-2020.