How to Develop Your Elder Board

How to Develop Your Elder Board
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

Developing Elders can sound like a daunting task.  Having a model or track to run on helps.

Here is a model I’ve used to develop Elder Boards called the "Development Notebook."  

The Idea:  Choose 4 areas to develop, make a list of key skills in each area, then rotate trainings on these topics monthly throughout the year.  At the end of the year, you have dived into 4 areas 3 times each.  You can then repeat the areas for the next year with new topics.

The Goal:  Over time, you are slowly and regularly pouring into your elders, as they create a Development Notebook to refer to and draw upon going forward.  The benefit is you are proactively developing your elders, instead of reacting when an issue arises.

The Details:

1. Pick 4 categories of development that best addresses your Elder Board’s needs.  I suggest:

  • Doctrine/Theology
  • Spiritual Sustainability/Health
  • Church Vision/Culture
  • Leadership Development

2. Come up with a list of 4-5 topics within each category.  For example:


  • Walking through a Statement of Faith
  • Theological issues (e.g. sexuality, stewardship)
  • How the Bible Talks about Elders and Pastors
  • Defining and clarifying “The Gospel”
  • Sharing your faith

Spiritual Sustainability

  • Healthy habits and disciplines 
  • Hearing from God in His word
  • Grounding our identity in Christ
  • Relationships—marriage, parenting
  • Sabbath and rhythms  

Church Vision/Culture

  • Missions Philosophy
  • Our church language: What do we mean when we say ___________
  • Defining church health
  • What is our Pastoral succession plan?
  • Elder Governance— role of Chair, how we are selected, how we make decisions


  • Stewarding our lives and resources/finances
  • Being right vs. being effective
  • Unity of leadership –philosophical, theological, relational
  • Conflict Resolution 

3. Assign different Elders, Pastors, or Lay Experts these topics to facilitate, set a monthly meeting time (Saturday morning breakfast), hand out binders, and then each month, have a training where they can add these handouts to the binder.

This is a great opportunity to lift the leadership of a staff member or elder by assigning them a topic to research and present.  It is also a way to bring outside freshness and insight by bringing in a guest.  For example, we had a person in our church trained in Conflict Resolution, and they came in to lead that topic.

4. When the year is done, rinse and repeat with a fresh set of topics.

Three thoughts:

  • You can add these monthly trainings to an existing Elder schedule, or make this time the training/prayer/fellowship meeting, while reserving the other monthly meeting for business.
  • If expertise is hard to come by, you can always choose a book/series of articles as assigned reading as the “outside expert.”
  • Consider inviting staff/potential Elders into these meetings as a way to bring them along as well as give them face tie with the Elder Board.

I often tell leaders, “I like the 80% plan we will actually implement vs. the 100% plan we never act on.”  So what step could you take today to start moving your Elders towards development?

Thomas helps pastors and Elder Boards navigate what’s next.  If he can serve you in this, reach out to him HERE.


Photo by Mike Tinnion on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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