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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 1998
As an Elder in a Bible believing church, I was shocked to find that our general way of doing business was in direct contradiction to the clear words of scripture. Questions of church structure are difficult because they are not consolidated into one verse or chapter. Some in our church suggested that there was no specific correct church structure given in the Bible. Others suggested that only traditional Pastors were qualified to lead a growing vibrant church. This book brings together every passage related to church leadership. It is a tremendous reference tool for analysing these various positions. Perhaps most importantly, it is written first as an examination of the Biblical text rather than an argument defending a denominational or traditional bias.
Alexander Strauch makes the case again and again that a plurality of Elders is the only biblical structure for the church. There is solid exegesis of difficult passages. This weighty work distills the Biblical truth and clearly highlights the Biblical case for a group of Elders as God's plan for governing the local church.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2003
This is an excellent study of the biblical teaching on church leadership. Strauch describes five essential aspects to biblical leadership; it should be pastoral, shared, male, qualified, and servant-hearted. The strength of the book is Strauch's relentless exegesis of EVERY NEW TESTAMENT TEXT on leadership! If he missed one, I haven't found it yet. But despite the scholarship, the book is readable and applicable.
I would agree that the content of this book is potentially divisive. But that is no fault of the book. This is not a book on how to change church government. It is about what biblical church government is. How to get there from where you are is another issue. I, for one, would like to see Strauch write a book on "Transitioning a Church into Biblical Eldership."
See also Strauch's books on Deacons (Minister of Mercy: The New Testament Deacon) and Meetings that Work - which is a life saver for any pastor!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 1999
This is the best book on church leadership that I've ever read! In fact, we ended up ordering three dozen books for our church, and reading this book led us to change our church constitution in 1997. If you are open-minded to exploring the model of church leadership exemplified in the New Testament, you need to read this book. (Strauch also has a companion book about Deacons, which is good, but the eldership book is the foundation.)
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2006
Strauch builds a strong case for the importance of eldership--not just any eldership but eldership as described in the New Testament. Biblical elders, Strauch argues, are not board members or advisors to the pastor, but are themselves called to pastor, lead, protect, and care for the church. They are not subordinate to the pastor, but part of a collaborative team of equals each with needed gifts. Elders must be qualified men, but the qualification isn't seminary: the biblical qualification lies in being mature men of character who are motivated to serve. Strauch presents his points clearly and with strong Biblical support, also adding historical and cultural data to back up his interpretation. Strauch's presentation is a bit redundant, in part because he makes the points above in the first section, supporting them with Scripture, and he later goes sequentially through each of the same Scriptures in more detail to show how and why he has interpreted each verse in the New Testament that mentions eldership. The redundancy is not all bad, especially since this model of eldership--while Biblical--does not appear to be practiced in most churches: the repetition and detailed analysis may indeed be useful to those for whom these concepts are new. While Strauch adequately ties his reflections into life--there are clear practical implications--for the reader who isn't already in a church that practices these principles, a bit more practical, real-life example--how we've seen these principle work in practice, how to get there from here type reflection might be useful. Nonetheless, Strauch's Biblical Eldership is a must-read for anyone seriously interested in exploring what the New Testament says about how the church should be lead.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Alexander Strauch writes an easy-to read biblical defense of eldership. The style is simple and easy to follow, though it is most helpful to read with a Bible open alongside for quick-reference as some thoughts can get clouded without seeing the biblical text right in front of you.

Book thesis: This book is intended to help clarify the biblical doctrine of eldership.
Thesis supported?
Yes, in part. There are some unprecedented conclusions, and some answers informed by personal bias rather than solid, biblical exegesis, but all in all, Strauch does clarify as he intends to.

If you are looking at a book which deals with a variety of issues surrounding the all-too-hot debate of eldership (specifically in regard to women-leadership), then this should certainly be one on your list--whether or not you agree with Strauch, you must leastwise be aware of the arguments which must be considered. Some of the material herein is a bit brief, though this is not to say surface-level; Strauch does attempt to really understand the historical, cultural, and Scriptural context from which he draws his thoughts regarding eldership. Sometimes, he returns to similar ideas or texts which can end up being redundant, but this book certainly offers a great overview of the biblical idea of eldership.

If you would like to know a few things about his perspectives or conclusions before purchasing:
Pastor is elder; elder is pastor
Elder is distinct from deacon
Shared/Multiple eldership should be sought
Elders are to be male
The primary qualification for elders is moral reputability
Elders are first and foremost servants
Elders are not above the congregation, but they will be held responsible for the congregation

In the end, this book is very helpful. With 21 previous printings, how could one say it hasn't been influential?
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2000
I have been an elder for 5 years and have felt that the general understanding was not based upon the Scripture. After an indepth study of the Scriptures I had come to the same conclusion as the author, but am not as able to explain it. This is the most important book written on the subject apart from the Holy Scriptures. Every church that is desiring to comply with the Word of God concerning church leadership needs to use this book for a concise presentation of the Eldership according to the Word of God
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2007
What's taught in this book will test most Christians' allegiance. We evangelicals like to think we do not put tradition above scripture, but be prepared to take the Mark 7:13 test as you read this book. We men at our church had come to see an eldership government before reading Mr. Strauch's book, based on an open-minded study of the word. But we kept trying to figure out how to have a pastor too. And if we did, what would his function be if the elders are to feed, teach, rule, and oversee the church (Acts 20:17, 28; 1Tim 3:1-10; 5:17; Titus 1:5-9; 1Pet 5:1-4; Heb 13:7,17,24; 1Thes 5:12)? Mr. Strauch's points helped to confirm our position that the elders are the pastors, and that a plurality of elders for a church is the New Testament norm (Phil 1:1; Heb 13:7,17,24; James 5:14; Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28; 1Tim 5:17; 1Thes 5:12). We had been struggling to be scriptural AND keep tradition. We chose scripture over tradition and for the last 11 years, the eldership model has served us very well. When asked, "Who's your pastor?" We simply say, "We have three" and give their names.

The only small technical issue I have is how Mr. Strauch simply equates the words "bishop" and "elder". "Elder" speaks of maturity (1Pet 1:1-5). "Bishop" is the actual office of leadership to which he is ordained (1Tim 3:1 KJV). Elder speaks of character; Bishop speaks of position. One does not become an elder in a day by ordination. An elder can be ordained to the office of bishop by meeting certain spiritual qualifications that only an elder could possess (Titus 1:5-7; 1Tim 3:6). So, only elders are to function as bishops (Titus 1:5-7). In short, bishops are ordained elders. In everyday practice, this is not a big deal since the words "elders", "bishops", and "pastors" are all valid scriptural names to refer to those spiritually mature men who have been duly appointed to feed, rule, teach, and oversee the church.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2003
This book is excellent. Not only is the book written well, but the content is outstanding. The author shows the Biblical concept of `pastoring' (eldership). The highlight of the book is the large section devoted to the biblical occurrences of elders. From these passages the concept of eldership is examined and defined. The author quotes a great variety of scholars, church leaders, commentators, and other authors. The author is also very devoted to being biblical in his conclusions and definitions. In a book of this nature, it would be easy for the author to write in a very demeaning way. But the author is gentle, and professional in his presentation of the Bible's view on eldership.
The only possible problem I had with the book was two interpretations the author made. First was his interpretation of 1Tim. 3:10; he tries to make this verse apply to elders as well as deacons, when it only seems to be applying to deacons. (pages 69 and 202) Second was his interpretation of 1Tim. 5:24-25 to mean that the congregation had to test the possible elder appointee. He made it seem as if the elder appointee had to be a part of the congregation for a good period of time before appointment (page 283). These interpretations are not incredible stretches, but stretches none the less.
The author makes an incredible point in the book, "I am fully convinced that if reverent, accurate exposition of God's Word will not convince Christian people of the nature and importance of biblical eldership, then nothing will." This is a challenge to the local church- WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? If we do not care what the Bible says, we have major problems. If we care what the Bible says, we need to seriously reconsider how church has traditionally been operated and governed in the past.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Coming from Mennonite Brethren and Pentecostal circles in western Canada, the concept of "biblical eldership" was one that was misunderstood, to say the least. I grew up in a church where the sheer presence of elders was seen as having "biblical eldership", never mind even remote considerations of moral qualifications. At least one elder in my home church (that I know of) was involved in a fist fight in a congregational meeting. There were several illegitimate children were born to the teenage daughters of the board members. To say that there was confusion on the issue of what exactly constituted "biblical eldership" is an understatement indeed. Strauch's 'Biblical Eldership' is one of the most comprehensive and exegetically built works on the subject I've ever encountered. Hence, I found much to agree and appreciate in Biblical Eldership and little to struggle over or disagree with.

Some of the things that I found convicting were some of how Strauch took a hard line on the subject of proper elder qualification. I appreciated how Strauch commented on the necessity of qualification on the basis of morality and ability over and against simply being aged or rich (68) and how the New Testament said more about the qualifications of elders than anything else (70). In the church circles I come from, having money, being over 40, semi-popular and "spiritual" are essentially the qualifications for being in church leadership. I was also encouraged when he talked about how New Testament elders were the judges on doctrinal issues (125). Before I left for seminary, my home church faced a doctrinal issue and the elders all passed the buck because they univocally admitted that they didn't understand "these things" so they went with the position of the person who was the nicest. Biblically, this can never be the case.

Another conviction came when I read Strauch's treatment on how elders are to be loved because of their work, not due to age or praiseworthy characteristics (172). I've found that I often fall into opposition to this command, respecting those who I find laudable and ignoring the respect due the work of eldership. I was glad that he talked about how showing "double honor" carried the idea of "financial compensation" (213). I have dozens of friends who have been forced to leave the ministry simply because their lay elders thought a family of six could live off $2,000 a month in a city where the rent on their two bedroom apartment was $900 a month. I was very pleased by his great word studies, consideration of many related topics and issues, and comprehensive treatment of the various assorted issues.

Although the book was great and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the subject, I did have some problems with the book. First off, it was quite long. Biblical Eldership had a lot of content, but it seemed that Strauch could have shortened it up by around 100 pages by throwing some of his lengthy exegetical studies in appendices and simply trimming down the verbosity of the work on the whole. 300+ pages seems a little much for the subject. Also, I thought his efforts to show a lack of parallels between OT elders and NT elders was slightly forced (108-109), I found his response to the idea that Acts 15 teaches a supreme ecclesial court to be weak (128), and I thought that his admission that James' role in the church of Acts might have been a "first among equals" hurt his case for ecclesial structure (132). I laughed when Strauch wrote "most liberal scholars conclude that..." (161) as this kind of "blanket statement" language should not be in a scholarly work of this nature.

On the whole though, Biblical Eldership is a wonderful resource that I will repeatedly use in the future. It's like a crown of a thousand jewels with one piece of cut glass in it. Almost nobody will even pick up on it's faults, and those who do will hopefully be discerning enough to simply work through those issues on their own and not think less of this monumental work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"I doubt that many evangelical leaders would say `It doesn't matter how the U.S. government is structured as long as there is some form of leadership.' Yet, that is precisely what I have heard some evangelical leaders say." (102)

The fact is, many people in the church today do not think about church leadership. As long as something is in place, as long as the church is headed in the right direction, that is good enough. Alexander Strauch has written Biblical Eldership to reveal the truth about church leadership, plainly revealed in God's Word.

Part One defines what Biblical eldership is. "According to the New Testament concept of eldership, elders lead the church, teach and preach the Word, protect the church from false teachers, exhort and admonish the saints in sound doctrine, visit the sick and pray, and judge doctrinal issues. In biblical terminology, elders shepherd, oversee, lead, and care for the local church." (16)

Strauch covers Pastoral Leadership, Shared Leadership, Male Leadership, Qualified Leadership, and Servant Leadership each in a separate chapter. Each chapter is thorough, easy to read, and back up with scripture references throughout.

Part Two is a defense of Biblical Eldership. The average church member is not interested in the leadership structure in the church, but it is hugely important. As Strauch says, the structure of church government will help determine how people think and act in the church. In my experience, people just don't want to talk about eldership for one reason or another, choosing to focus on the "more important" issues. However, "the New Testament offers more instruction regarding elders than on other important church subjects such as the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Day, baptism, or the spiritual gifts." (103)

Obviously, eldership is hugely important in Scripture and needs to be carefully considered by every local church.

Part Three serves as the exposition of Scripture on eldership. It essentially covers the same material as Parts One and Two, but expositionally instead of topically.

Part Four includes two short chapters, one on the appointment of elders and one on the relationship with elders and their congregation.

Biblical Eldership is a great book that covers an underserved area of theology and should serve as an example for other Christian authors who want to cover church topics. It is Biblical, thorough, and well written. Highly recommended for all readers interested in Biblical leadership in the church.
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