Monday, October 12, 2015

Review: Church Elders: How to Shepherd God's People Like Jesus

Church Elders: How to Shepherd God's People Like Jesus Church Elders: How to Shepherd God's People Like Jesus by Jeramie Rinne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent primer on the essence of eldership in the local church.

This is just the little book on eldership that the evangelical Church needs. For years, I have searched high and low for an accessible book that introduces biblical eldership which doesn’t devolve into either a technical treatise on ecclesiology nor a how-to manual that relies on debatable insights from the world of secular organizational theory. And here it finally is!

Rinne successfully avoids secondary polity and pragmatic questions while staying strongly theological and practical on both what an elder is and does. Need proof? Check out these chapter titles which edify all by themselves: “Smell Like Sheep,” “Serve Up the Word,” “Track Down the Strays,” “Lead Without Lording,” “Shepherd Together,” “Model Maturity.”

Church Elders does a good job of neither glorifying the position nor denigrating the work of an elder. Rinne writes as a vocational pastor but FOR avocational elders. He understands the perspective of a man for whom being an elder is lived out in addition to all of his other responsibilities including a family and a full-time job.

Rinne packs a lot into these 122 short pages, but it feels like just the right amount. His illustrations are concise but revealing and helpful. His prose is conversational and carries the reader along but isn’t trite, sentimental, or sappy. If I could write a book on church elders, I would want it to be just like this one. I’ll be asking all of our elders to read it and include it in all future elder training. Highly recommended.

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Thanks for this review, Matt. Can you compare it to Lawrence Eyres' The Elders of the Church and Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch? We've used those two books in the past, but your review definitely has me curious.

Thanks for asking, Dan.

I am not familiar with Eyre's book so I can't comment on that.

It's been a while since I read Strauch, but here's my lingering perception of it: Strauch's book is long, technical, and more difficult to read for most laymen. It's ponderous and comes from an elder-rule perspective. He is trying to make the case for eldership and brings a lot of the polity debates into the mix. I was very helped by it and convinced of several things, but there are very few avocational elders that I would hand it to.

I can't think of anything I read in Rinne that I disagree with. Most eldership books are a mix of things I really like and things either disagree with or don't like the tone or emphasis. Rinne's book is like the book I would like to write if I were writing on eldership. That's very subjective, I know, but that's my experience of the book.

That's really helpful. Thanks.