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Lesson 5         Parish Ministry: Moving Forward

Two lessons ago I presented a history of the parish system, including its two goals of: 1) providing shepherding care to all members and 2) enhancing community. Then last week I diagnosed the problems that have hindered the parish structure from achieving these two goals.

Let’s review the kinks in the system:

1. PEs overly stretched

2. PEs and all elders not receiving necessary training and support

3. Failure to activate the inactive officers

4. Inability to keep up regular contact with all church members

5. Inability to develop a widespread network of small groups

6. Struggle to develop strong, consistent parish council teams

I then noted four necessary elements to address these problems.

            1. Training

            2. Activating all elders

            3. Development of the TCA network

            4. Putting the database into parish hands


Let’s start with training.

How to use the online training sessions.

            – discuss them: fellow elders, wives, deacons, me

            – email questions and comments that include other elders

            – let me know of needed topics

Good materials to read and study.

            – develop well-rounded library

Teaching one another.

            – in parish councils

            – informal elder gatherings

            – sharing good books, materials (through email)

Local and online courses

            – WTS and CCEF

            – PBU

            – Download courses from Covenant

            – WTS provides a list of educational links

            – invite you to send links of helpful sites


Life experience

            – already you have learned and been shaped; that’s the reason you selected elder

            – learn from both strengths and weaknesses; successes and failures

            – write down the lessons you have learned in life

                        – (construction lessons: pace self; look back)


Suggestions for a Ruling Elder’s Library



J I Packer, Concise Theology;

Packer, Knowing God

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, by J. I. Packer

R C Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith;

Berkhof, Summary of Christian Doctrine;

A A Hodge, The Confession of Faith;

Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied;


Westminster Standards – Confession, Larger and Shorter Catechisms Foundations of the Christian Faith, by James Boice

The Doctrines of Grace, by James Boice and Philip Ryken


Church History:

Howard Vos, Exploring Church History

Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, ed. by Philip Ryken


Bible Reference:

Baker has a quick Scripture reference guide for counseling;

Ryken’s Bible Handbook;

the Reformation Study Bible;


Church Polity


Book of Church Order

The Elder and His Work, by David Dickson

Pastoral Visitation: A Pocket Manual, by David Short and David Searle


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