Elders’ Education Fund — what are your plans to grow as shepherds and teachers?

Listen to leaders as they talk about their work: elders, deacons, preachers.

  1. Some are upbeat, excited, interested, asking questions, sharing new information.
  2. Some are discouraged, flat, defeated, and confused.

What’s the difference?

One of the differences I’ve noticed is one group is learning, reading, discussing, and participating in opportunities for growth and development.

The other group rarely looks for ways to grow.

As a young preacher, I had several preachers and teachers warn me about the danger of thirty years of age. They said many preachers come out of school excited and looking forward to great ministry. They studied, prepared sermons, taught lessons from the overflow of what they’d learned.

After a few years — two to five — they ran out of old material. They decided they’d done about all the good they could do in their present place and moved to another location. In the same amount of time, they ran out of old sermons and decided they’d done all the good they could do in that location and started looking for another opportunity to repeat.

I faced the decade of the thirties with fear and trembling. I planned to dedicate time and money to continue to read, learn, and go to events to increase my effectiveness.

I’ve been fortunate in my preaching relationships to have congregations designate money for attending lectureships and special classes.

From the beginning of full-time work, we’ve had a place in our budget to buy books, materials, and equipment to help me continue my education.

Elders Education Fund

If that’s true of preachers, and it is, it’s also true of elders. Shepherding is overwhelming. Teaching, counseling, warning, seeking, comforting, understanding, and advising individuals and families require continuous learning. Unless a shepherd is regularly studying, reading, and listening, he will be among the discouraged, flat, defeated, and confused.

Suggestion: designate an adequate amount each year in the church budget for elders, as well as the preacher, for continuing education. Read books and discuss them. Attend at least one special event together each year to learn ways to be better shepherds. As I often told people who attended leadership workshops I led, “I don’t know if you’ll get much from the workshop, but if you travel together, the time with each other will be worth the time and money.”

Two Questions

  1. Why not let elders pay for their own growth opportunities? That’s fine. If individuals want to do that, they can contribute anonymously. There will be an elder at times who would have difficulty with the expense at this time in his life. He’s not likely to say that and make excuses for not participating.
  2. What if I don’t have time? You may not have time to be designated as a shepherd. People find time to do what’s important. Read five pages a day and you’ll read a book every two months. Use shaving and driving time to listen to the Bible, podcasts, and audio books on CDs or your smart phone.

One’s attitude can change when he knows he doesn’t know what he’s doing but is learning how to improve.

Recently, I had a group of elders ask me for a list of books I found helpful. Here’s the list I sent: Helpful Books .

What suggestions do you have for the continued growth of leaders?

(Visited 353 times, 11 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

2 Responses to “Elders’ Education Fund — what are your plans to grow as shepherds and teachers?

  • Jann Dirk Diamante
    3 years ago

    Greetings from Metro Manila, Philippines. Thanks for this article. Appreciate the insights. Will share this with others. 🙂

  • Jerrie Barber
    3 years ago


    Thank you for reading, responding, and sharing with others.

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