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Elders in Congregational Life: Rediscovering the Biblical Model for Church Leadership [Paperback]

By Phil A. Newton (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   176
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.52" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.38"
Weight:   0.47 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 2005
Publisher   Kregel Publications
ISBN  0825433312  
EAN  9780825433313  


Availability  0 units.


Item Description...
Overview
A definitive and biblical answer to the current debate in many churches over the use of biblical offices in autonomous congregations. Many evangelical churches place high value on their autonomy as local congregations with the freedom to govern themselves. Ideally this means each member participates in decisionmaking, but in reality pure congregationalism is unwieldy, subject to conflicts on the one hand and inertia on the other. Pastors often solve the problem by absorbing more and more authority for themselves. Neither approach is biblical.

A biblically functioning church requires much more than skillful organization and clever techniques. It calls for intentional devotion to the New Testament model of the church, and church leadership stands at the heart of the model. In this practical book, experienced pastor Phil Newton explains the necessity of elder plurality and how it functions in a congregational setting. He then calls for churches to raise the standards of church leadership. Newton demonstrates the history of elder plurality in Baptist life, expounds three biblical texts to shed light on the New Testament model for spiritual leaders, and provides answers to commonly asked questions.

Publishers Description

A definitive and biblical answer to the current debate in many churches over the use of biblical offices in autonomous congregations. Many evangelical churches place high value on their autonomy as local congregations with the freedom to govern themselves. Ideally this means each member participates in decisionmaking, but in reality pure congregationalism is unwieldy, subject to conflicts on the one hand and inertia on the other. Pastors often solve the problem by absorbing more and more authority for themselves. Neither approach is biblical.

A biblically functioning church requires much more than skillful organization and clever techniques. It calls for intentional devotion to the New Testament model of the church, and church leadership stands at the heart of the model. In this practical book, experienced pastor Phil Newton explains the necessity of elder plurality and how it functions in a congregational setting. He then calls for churches to raise the standards of church leadership. Newton demonstrates the history of elder plurality in Baptist life, expounds three biblical texts to shed light on the New Testament model for spiritual leaders, and provides answers to commonly asked questions.

"A valuable contribution not only on the subject of eldership, but concerning biblical leadership. The young pastor or anyone grappling with leadership issues will benefit not only from the teaching of the book, but also from the appendices filled with carefully developed materials." --David L. Olford

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More About Phil A. Newton

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Phil A. Newton (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; DMin, Fuller Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at South Woods Baptist Church in Memphis. In pastoral ministry for over thirty-five years, he also serves as an adjunct professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary's Equip Center

Phil A. Newton has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Practical Shepherding


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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General   [31520  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Leadership   [1086  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Church Administration   [1756  similar products]



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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Excellent   Feb 9, 2006
Phil Newton, Pastor of South Woods Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, has provided the church with an exceptional study on the biblical basis, historical background, and practical outworking of eldership in congregational church settings. Many books have been written on elders in recent years - Alexander Strauch's Biblical Eldership and Gene Getz' Elders and Leaders being among the best - but the unique contribution of Newton's book is its grounding in baptistic church polity. Newton explores the implementation of elders in Baptist churches, not Brethren or Bible churches (the respective denominational backgrounds of Strauch and Getz). For pastors in Baptist churches, this will make Elders in Congregational Life an excellent and especially helpful companion to these other two helpful studies.

Newton divides his book into three parts. Part one, "Why Elders?" begins by answering "Why Baptist Elders Is Not an Oxymoron" (chapter one). The author here explores elder plurality in both American and English Baptist history, with numerous brief quotations from historic Baptist confessions and church leaders. His conclusion is the same as John Piper's whom he quotes: "The least we can say from this historical survey of Baptist Confessions is that it is false to say that the eldership is unbaptistic. On the contrary, the eldership is more baptistic than its absence, and its disappearance is a modern phenomenon that parallels other developments in doctrine that make its disappearance questionable at best."

Chapter two, "Elders in the New Testament", covers ground that will be familiar to students of Scripture, especially those who have read other books on elders. The three biblical terms applied to elders (presbuteros, episkopos, poimen) are discussed in their Scriptural contexts. A case is made for the plurality of elders. And the duties and responsibilities of elders are described under the fourfold list of doctrine, discipline, direction, and distinction in modeling the Christian life.

The third chapter addresses "Character and Congregationalism," giving special emphasis to the biblical qualifications for elders, the need for both elders and deacons, and how a plural eldership should function within a congregational church.

Part two, "Three Key Biblical Texts", is more expository and sermonic in nature with three chapters which deal with Acts 20:17-31 (Chapter Four: "A Model for Our Times), Hebrews 13:17-19 (Chapter Five: "Elders and Congregation in Concert"), and 1 Peter 5:1-1-5 (Chapter Six: "Spiritual Leaders for God's Flock"). The chapters not only teach the biblical basis for eldership, but also apply biblical exhortations to both pastors/elders and congregations. A key paragraph from chapter six, which summarizes well the Baptist/congregational view of eldership presented in this book, reads: "We [the church Newton pastors] differ from our friends in the Presbyterian General Assembly and Bible Churches who put final authority in the hands of the local session of elders or submit to a presbytery outside of the local church. In contract, the final authority on matters of our church life resides in the congregation. But the functioning of a purely congregational system is both unwieldy and lacking biblical support. Instead, the establishment of a body of elders to serve in day-to-day leadership in spiritual matters, serving at the pleasure of the congregation, enables us to maintain both the traditional distinctive of congregational life and the clearly biblical structure of elders" (97).

Part three of the book, "From Theory to Practice," is especially valuable in providing practical and tangible steps for transitioning a more "traditional" church polity to eldership. Chapter seven, "Thinking About Transition to Eldership," begins the discussion with appropriate cautions about transitioning and then spotlights three churches as case studies in which this transition has been made: First Baptist Church of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, under the leadership of Jeff Noblit, Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D. C., under the leadership of Mark Dever, and Newton's own church in Memphis.

Chapter eight then asks "Can it Be Done?" answering with a resounding yes - and then showing the way. The transitioning process is broken down into three phases: the evaluation phase, the presentation phase, and the implementation phase. Each of these phases is then broken down into smaller steps. During the evaluation phase, the pastor must assess (the current leadership and polity of the church), study (the Scriptures - with a leadership group), probe (give members of this team assignments, don't just spoon-feed), and summarize (the group's conclusions for the whole church). Then comes the presentation phase, which will involve exposition (of Scripture to the entire congregation, with careful and patient teaching on the biblical basis for eldership), discussion (with the members of the congregation, giving them ample opportunity to both comprehend and buy into the vision for change), and heavy emphasis on qualifications. Finally, the implementation phase is reached, involving prayer, screening of potential candidates, ordaining elders to service, involving those elders in leadership, and reviewing the biblical teaching on elders on an annual basis.

Finally, chapter nine, "Putting It All Together", addresses the nitty-gritty concerns of how the elders' authority works, what role the "senior pastor" has, the concept of "ruling" elders, the question of church staff members as elders, the relationship between elders and deacons, the conducting of elders' meetings and congregational meetings, and elders' terms of service and dismissal. The final pages of the book acknowledge that some readers will not be persuaded that the view of eldership presented in this book is correct. And a helpful exhortation is joined with that acknowledgement: "Whatever type of leadership structure you embrace, by all means determine to raise the standards for leaders to match the biblical requirements. Failure of leaders to meet those requirements is the greatest deficiency in church leadership!" (153) Adding to the book's usefulness is a foreword by Mark Dever, thorough notes and documentation of the sources used in the book, a two page bibliography for further reading on elders (with numerous links to on-line resources), a Scripture index, and a subject index.

As a pastor who is in the midst of leading a Baptist church through the transition to the kind of Baptistic and congregational eldership as described in this book, I found Newton's book helpful and encouraging. His exegesis of Scripture is solid, and much in line with some of the other resources already available. But especially valuable are his reflections on how to make the transition from a more traditional form to eldership. He is honest enough to acknowledge the challenges he and his own church faced, which give the book a flavor of realism often missing from books on church leadership that present neatly packaged plug-in-and-play models that are much easier to sell than implement. But best of all, Newton's presentation is really nothing more than clear biblical instruction.
 
Elder Led Church Vs. Single Pastor Led Church  Oct 16, 2005
Mark Dever is a man of passion for the truth of Scripture. His book 9 MARKS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH is well worth reading for every disciple of Jesus. His website www.9marks.org is a great resource for churches that desire to be Spirit-led instead of market-driven as many churches in the United States are today. This book will aid in that search as well.

The book explores what the Bible says about leadership in the book of Acts and the New Testament epistles. Dever shows how the early church was elder led rather than the Western model of one single pastor (Senior Pastor, Lead Pastor, etc.) leading the Church. Dever shows how this model best fits into Scripture and further will better serve the Church and help safeguard the Church from becoming a one-man show.

The positives of this book are that Dever is passionate that every teaching be based on the Word of God (1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 2:1). He rightly believes that the Bible must guide us into how God wants His Church to be set up. He further stays true to the Bible in regard to the role of elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). He correctly shows that the Apostles established the churches around the Lordship of Jesus as the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:15-20) and that the elders were to be simply one of the brethren and not over the brethren (1 Peter 5:1-5).

The only negative I have of the book is that while the book focused on the biblical role of elders, it failed to show that the modern pastorate has no basis in Scripture. Elders were the pastors (Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11; 1 Peter 5:1-4). There was no division between the two roles that I see in the New Testament. Further, Dever should have built a strong case that the modern pastorate robs God of His glory with its titles and positions of power rather than biblical leadership that reflects servanthood and humility like our King (Matthew 20:20-28; John 13:1-17; Philippians 2:1-11).

Overall this is a solid book on church leadership and I highly recommend it.
 

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