Gospel Eldership: Equipping a New Generation of Servant Leaders
by Robert H. Thune
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One way or another, leaders emerge in the life of every church. Most pastors want to be intentional about developing and shaping those leaders themselves, but they rarely have the time and resources to do it. So leaders spring up, often without deep roots in the gospel, and they struggle to guide the church.
The biblical task of leading a church requires more than good management principles or sound theology. If the gospel truly is “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16) and is constantly “bearing fruit and growing” within us (Colossians 1:6), then each elder must be strong in the gospel. That’s the vision and the goal behind Gospel Eldership.
Gospel Eldership combines theological training with spiritual formation in order to shape future (and current) leaders at the heart level. It walks future leaders through the biblical concept of servant leadership and the primacy of character before looking at the specific duties of elders. Gospel Eldership helps develop men who know their own heart idolatry and how the good news of the gospel applies to it and who have a sense of “gospel fluency” so that they can swiftly, effectively, and clearly apply the gospel to others. Gospel Eldership is designed to intentionally raise up the type of men who can and should lead God’s church.
Gospel Eldership treats the role of elder carefully and biblically and is written from a theologically complementarian viewpoint. With practical exercises to help put concepts to work in real-life situations, Gospel Eldership can be used in one-on-one discipleship or in a small group setting and is appropriate for use in any church—from the smallest church plant to the largest church-planting church.
Bob Thune, MA (Reformed Theological Seminary), is the lead pastor of Coram Deo, a gospel-centered church he planted in 2005 in Omaha, Nebraska, after serving as a megachurch college pastor and a Campus Crusade staff member. He is the coauthor of The Gospel-Centered Life, The Gospel-Centered Life for Teens, and The Gospel-Centered Community, and he is the author of Gospel Eldership. Bob and his wife Leigh have four children.
"Absolutely nothing is more important in a church family than the DNA of the leadership culture. The healthiest churches I know are those that are led by pastors and elders who are captured by the gospel, smitten with Jesus, and transformed by God's grace. Bob Thune's new book, Gospel Eldership, presents a vision and roadmap for cultivating this kind of leadership culture."
Scotty Ward Smith, Teacher in Residence, West End Community Church, Nashville, TN
"I've lost count of the number of times that pastors, church planters, and seminary students have asked me for a practical, hands-on, gospel-centered, and challenging resource for elders-in-training and current elders in churches. The book you have in your hands is that resource—finally! Gospel Eldership provides much-needed and long-awaited formation for servant leadership in our churches!"
Gregg R. Allison, Professor, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; pastor, Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, KY; Secretary, Evangelical Theological Society; author of Historical Theology, Sojourners and Strangers, and Roman Catholic Theology and Practice
"There is so much confusion about how the church should be governed and led. I love how clear and compelling Bob has made the high calling of being a pastor in Gospel Eldership. I can't wait to use this incredible resource in our church and I would encourage you to do the same."
Darrin Patrick, Lead Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis; Vice President, Acts 29; chaplain to St. Louis Cardinals; author of Church Planter, The Dude's Guide to Manhood; coauthor of The Dude's Guide to Marriage
"Bob Thune brings us gospel formation over information with a bias for soul depth, not breadth. Buy Gospel Eldership for your next elder candidate process—or better yet, buy it for current elders to start a journey toward greater honesty, openness, and holiness. Your church will thank you for it."
Daniel Montgomery, Lead Pastor, Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, KY; founder of the Sojourn Network; author of Faithmapping, PROOF, and Leadership Mosaic
"This material shaped me as a leader when I was new to pastoral ministry, and his is what we use to train our elders. Bob is& a gifted pastor, and this is what he does best: holistic development of church leaders. In this book, you will find sound theology, gospel-centrality, and wise insight from the heart of a leader. The personal and practical application is what makes this resource a game-changer."
Will Walker, Pastor, Providence Church, Austin, TX; coauthor of The Gospel-Centered Life
"Thune understands that when elders apply the gospel, the church thrives. His material is fresh, sharp, and drenched in gospel claims. If you love elders, train elders, support elders, serve as an elder, or even aspire to eldership, Gospel Eldership is a must-buy, must-read, must-discuss, must-apply!"
Dave Harvey, Executive Director, Sojourn Network; founder of AmICalled.com; author of When Sinners Say I Do
"Bob Thune is a rising star in the evangelical church today, and his Gospel Eldership: Equipping a New Generation of Servant Leaders reveals why. He is a careful thinker, robustly biblical, and fiercely articulate. All of that, and so much more, comes through in Gospel Eldership. I am grateful to God for Bob Thune and for his significant contribution in this most worthwhile book."
Jason K. Allen, President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
"There is no greater challenge for local church pastors than the identification and training of mature, godly, gospel-centered elders. I've read numerous books on leadership and the role of elders in the body of Christ, but none quite like what Bob Thune provides in this excellent volume. For Bob, 'gospel-centered' is not just a tag line or a cliché, but a vital truth that shapes everything about the calling and spiritual character of those who serve in this critical ministry. I cannot recommend this superb book too highly."
Sam Storms, Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City
"It is noble to aspire to eldership. However, transforming elder aspiration into godly, prepared pastoral service demands more than desire. It requires hard work—the work of personal discipline and a power outside of self. Godly elders depend on gospel power, the sufficiency and excellency of Jesus Christ applied to every aspect of life and ministry. Gospel Eldership will help you cultivate elder character, skill, and doctrine that depends on Jesus. I have used Gospel Eldership in several rounds of elder training and appreciate it more with each use. Our elder candidates often comment on its usefulness and convicting power. I will continue to use Gospel Eldership with enthusiasm as we train godly, gospel-motivated men for pastoral service."
Jonathan Dodson, Lead Pastor, City Life Church; author of Gospel-Centered Discipleship and The Unbelievable Gospel