Book Review: Biblical Eldership

Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church LeadershipBiblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership by Alexander Strauch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent basic overview of the office of elder. The strength of the book is the exegesis of various passages, such as I Timothy 3, 5 and Titus 1 on the office of elder. I also appreciated his sections on Acts 15, James 5:13-18 and Hebrews 13:17. I did not necessarily agree with all his conclusions, but his work on these passages provided a lot of food for thought. I would recommend it to anyone interested in being an elder.

I had two questions that he did not answer well. First, how much of Paul’s ministry is paradigmatic for the elder? For example, I and II Corinthians contain several passages describing Paul’s ministry. Do these passages have anything to say to the elder? Strauch did not answer this question very clearly. The reason I bring it up is because if Paul’s ministry is a paradigm for an elder then it would seem to imply two types of elders or two offices (minister of the Word and ruling elder). Normally, a ruling elder who works a job 40-50 hours a week cannot be doing what Paul did.

Second, how much of Paul’s instructions to Timothy and Titus, outside of the passages specifically about elders, apply to elders? Here I am asking the same question as the one above. If Timothy and Titus are paradigms for elders then there would appear to be two offices or at least two very different duties within the same office. A man who works 40-50 hours and is a ruling elder on the side is going to have a difficult time using Timothy or Titus as a paradigm. Some of this is implied in I Timothy 5:17-18.

My point is that whether you call a position “Three office” or not, if you use Paul, Timothy and Titus as your paradigm there is going to be at the very least a functional difference between the man who devotes himself full time to the ministry and the ruling elder. I do not think Strauch addressed this issue very carefully or clearly. By focusing on the passages that just specifically address elders, he left a lot of relevant passages on the cutting room floor.

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Why Bach Still Matters

Here are four good posts from Greg Wilbur on what the church can learn from Johann Sebastian Bach. Below the posts are ten principles Wilbur derived from studying Bach. If you want a book length treatment of Bach’s life you can read Wilbur’s book Glory and Honor.

Part I
Part II

Part III
Part IV

Principle #1: A worship leader should be a student of Scripture who is constantly seeking to reform their ideas, worship, and aesthetics to the Word of God. God is the standard of beauty and excellence—our worship should seek after biblical excellence and objective beauty, goodness, and truth.

Principle #2: A worship leader should seek to understand the role of music and liturgy in worship in teaching doctrine—not only on a week-by-week basis but in the macrocosm of the life of the church.

Principle #3: A worship leader should be a perpetual student of their craft seeking to understand the theological basis of the very inner workings of music.

Principle #4: A worship leader should seek excellence in their work and consistently strive to improve their talents and abilities by growing in skill and depth—musically and theologically.

Principle #5: Worship should be accessible yet excellent.
 
Principle #6: How a worship leader plays and leads in worship should be different from the playing at a recital, coffeehouse, or concert.

Principle #7: Worship leaders should choose songs and musical arrangements that are ecclesiastically appropriate—what is appropriate in other venues may not be for corporate worship. The criteria for what is ecclesiastically appropriate refers not only to text but also music, the combination of text and music, arrangements, and execution.
 
Principle #8: Part of leading worship is looking towards the development of subsequent generations of musicians grounded on issues of permanence and with knowledge of the history of Church worship.

Principle #9: Worship leaders should build on the foundation of the past instead of replacing it, relying more on the Biblical notion of craftsmanship rather than the humanist concept of originality

Principle #10: Reliance on God’s grace alone.