Robert Wriedt D.Min.
This Doctor of Ministry project created a training program for potential elders at Grace Community Church of Seal Beach. The first section of the project is a biblical and theological study of Christian leadership generally and eldership specifically that locates elder training within Christian discipleship. It then moves on to an integration of the contemporary literature on elder and board training, seeking to combine the best of theologically driven works (such as those by Anyabwile, Rinne, and Strauch) with writers focused on practical concerns (such as Busby or Malphurs and Mancini) as well as secular leadership theorists (such as Kouzes and Posner, Greenleaf, and Carver).
The qualitative research project itself focuses on how to train elders using a nine-week small group format. Since elder training is rooted in the growth of character (“Be”), knowledge (“Know”) and practice (“Do”), each week’s meeting included sections on theology, ministry skills, and Christian character. Participant growth was measured by interviews before, during, and after the conclusion of the nine weeks, as well as by observed behavior within the context of the group. The project appendices include full descriptions of the course content that was taught and the readings that were assigned to participants.
One of the key findings from this project was the necessity of training elders prior to their invitation to serve as elders, rather than waiting for them to begin service on the board or even before they were asked to serve as elders in the upcoming year. An analogy would be to compare it to pre-engagement counseling, rather than pre-marital or marital counseling. Participants stated that the training provided clarity of what was expected of elders was very helpful in their discernment process, which excited some and caused others to opt out of the process.