Making the Transition to Elder Governance

This book just came out this month, and it looks like one that will serve some churches well:

Daniel Evans and Joseph Godwin Jr. Elder Governance: Insights into Making the Transition. Eugene, OR: Resource, 2011. xvii + 120 pp.


When the leadership of Patterson Park Church looked for a book explaining the process of transitioning from a board-run church to an elder-led form of church government, a structure they had come to believe was more in line with Scripture, they found none. God honored their efforts and two of their elders decided a book still needed to be written. Elder Governance: Insights into Making the Transition examines church government from a biblical and historical context and tells the story of Patterson Park’s transition. The authors are hopeful that God will use their experience to help others considering such a transition.

Table of contents:


“This thoughtful expression of process for moving a congregation to elder governance also weaves together the biblical qualifications and functions of elders in the community of the redeemed in an expansive manner. What makes the book distinctive in the literature and thus worthy of high recommendation is the integration of process with theology.”
—James M. Grier
Distinguished Professor of Theology
Grand Rapids Theological Seminary

“For those churches who are attempting to make the difficult transition to a plural elder led form of church governance, this book fills a void that has long existed: assistance in how to navigate those treacherous waters. Through their own experiences in helping their church work through this metamorphosis, the authors have gleaned valuable insight that they have shared with us.”
—Alexander Strauch
Author of Biblical Eldership

An illustration from Kent Hughes’s foreword:

Over the years I have often told leaders who want to bring change in their churches that they must understand that a new church is like a ski boat that can turn on a dime, whereas as an established church (with some history and institutional pride) is like an ocean liner that takes seven miles at sea to turn around—and that you had better understand the difference or you will be in for a shipwreck! At the very least, faulty helmsmanship will mean that the erstwhile ocean liner will become a battleship—likely headed for a watery grave.

Of course, the authors of this book fully understand this and have provided, in the second half of this book, extended counsel on how to turn the ship around without running her aground. The strength of what they recommend lies in the fact that they have done it—successfully. Their chapter entitled “Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!” is worth the price of the book alone. (p. x)

Appendix A: Recommended Resources (p. 107):

  1. Dever, Mark. 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004.
  2. Getz, Gene. Elders and Leaders: God’s Plan for Leading the Church—A Biblical, Historical and Cultural Perspective. Chicago: Moody, 2003.
  3. MacArthur, John. The Master’s Plan for the Church. Chicago: Moody, 1991.
  4. Newton, Phil. Elders in Congregational Life: Rediscovering the Biblical Model for Church Leadership. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2005.
  5. Piper, John. Biblical Eldership: Shepherd the Flock Among You. Minneapolis: Desiring God Ministries, 1999.
  6. Strauch, Alexander. Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership. Colorado: Lewis and Roth, 1995.


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