I often get asked to talk about teachers that I like. I do this often, though in passing, but today I took the time to highlight a book that I read and give a review. Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership by Alexander Strauch is a most exhaustive and detailed exploration on New Testament church governance, perhaps ever written, and written at a time when most churches do not actively follow a Biblical model of leadership.
In essence, the book argues for the local church to be governed by a plurality of elders. Alexander Strauch goes to great extent to show that the early church had elders, that these elders shared governance. One of the most interesting concepts Strauch articulates is the principle of “first among equals” a concept derived from the Romans where one member stands out among those with equal station. Strauch argues that among the twelve disciples, Peter was first among equals, not above them in a formal way. Strauch argues that the first among equals concept is how we should view local pastors rather than inventing titles such as senior pastor. Strauch argues that a plurality of elders allows the spiritual gifts of each elders to be honed and therefore greater ministry effectiveness.
What I did not anticipate in reading this book (this book was a gift) was its emphasis on discernment. Alexander Strauch argues that being able to discern doctrine and safeguard the congregation from false teaching is a primary function of church elders. That is the job they signed up for, but it is apparent that this fact is lost in the church today. Another surprising fact is that Strauch argues against the egalitarian/feminist position on church eldership responding to an article written in the mid 1990’s that reads that could have been written today.
What makes this book a must read for pastors or perspective pastors is that this book does an exhaustive exegesis on the Biblical qualifications for being an elder in the church. And for that reason I recommend this book.