Called to Serve : Essays for Elders and Deacons Paperback – January 1, 2007
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The majority of the essays were extremely helpful. I especially enjoyed the following: The Office Bearer's Life (I found it to be extremely convicting); Should We Allow Baptists to Join a Reformed Church? (extremely thought-provoking); Office Bearers and Church Government (extremely informative); and Surviving Tuesday Night: The Rules and Order of a Meeting (extremely helpful). I really could have listed every single essay as I think I learned something from each one.
In addition, some of the contributors include Danny Hyde, Michael Horton, Kim Riddlebarger, Cornelis Venema, and W. Robert Godfrey. As you can see these are just a few of the heavy-hitters that contributed to this book, so I should not have to convince anyone in Reformed circles that these essays are written by wonderfully knowledgeable men of God.
In addition to the wonderful essays, the back of the book contains a few Appendixes, including an officer training guide and several recommended resources to help with training. This book would be a perfect manual for training men either coming into the office of elder or deacon or continued training for men already in office.
If I could find one thing I didn't like about the book (and this is a stretch) it's that the book is written from the opinion of those reformed churches that confess the Three Forms of Unity, so all citations and references to a confession are from the Heidelberg Catechism, The Belgic Confession, or the Canons of Dordt. Of course, these are all fine confessions that I would also say I subscribe to, but as a member of the OPC, I am more familiar with the Westminster Standards. Of course, I am sure that if one took the time, just about every reference to the Three Forms of Unity could be traced to a corresponding section of the Westminster Standards, so like I said, this is really a stretch to even consider this a weakness of the book.
In conclusion, this is a fine book on the the role of the offices of the elder and the deacon. Any man called to either of these offices would do well to read and then re-read this book. It would also be a wonderful book for a minister and/or other elders to use for training new men called to the office of elder or deacon.
There are a few typos and such that will no doubt be fixed in the future editions. Regardless, I highly recommend this manual.
And excellent also for pastors, members, or churches as a whole to understand this vital role in the healthy, biblical functioning and flourishing of Christ's church. Looking for more church growth fluff? You will not find it here.
Articles / chapters are written by an outstanding group of seasoned pastors / scholars: D. Hyde, R. Pontier, R. Lankheet, C. Venema, M. Brown, W. Godfrey, M. Horton, K. Riddlebarger, and four others.
There is supposed to be a follow-up book in the works covering these offices from a practical application standpoint.
See also: How Jesus Runs the Church
Though the book is written by and for officers in churches within the Dutch Reformed tradition, I would highly recommend it for use in PCA (the denomination in which I pastor), OPC, and other Presbyterian denominations as well.
One of the best and most challenging chapters, written by editor Michael Brown, addresses the question of whether people with baptistic theology should be allowed to join Reformed churches. Though the Dutch Reformed answer this question differently than do Presbyterians (the former say "no," the latter "yes"), this question is nonetheless a crucial one with which all potential officers should wrestle, regardless of their denominations' take on this issue.
As a church planter in the Presbyterian Church in America I am in the process of training elders and deacons, and after having searched far and wide for quality curricula, I was thrilled to come across this well-written and accessible volume. I commend it highly.
Rev. Jason J. Stellman
Exile Presbyterian Church