This is a question that seems to come up quite often. It is also a question that we as a church have attempted to answer. In our setting we are a newer church plant who is committed to planting more churches. As a result we need to equip and send leaders. We also are in a military community, this results in only having guys for a few years at a time. You can sense the priority.
As far to our process we identify a guy as a potential elder spend time with him to sync up philosophically, interview him and then work through an appointment ordination process where there are various examinantions of theology and life.
As far as how we get there, here is something of the process:
We have begun a program to train leaders called ELI – Emmaus Leadership Institute. It is not necessarily ”elder training” though it can be. More, it is a men’s discipleship and training program. Here is the link and the schedule. We just finished the first class and are writing as we go.
- As far as potential elders we want to make sure they are theologically sound before taking them to the interview stage. Therefore, as pastors we are trying to spend the time on the front end to assess guy’s theology and its application (life) as we go.
- I am very concerned about philosophy. I want to make sure the elders get it. I take them through Trellis & The Vine, What is a Healthy Church-Member? and The Shepherd Leader. This helps construct the big picture of discipleship, shepherding and local church priority. We do this before interviews or examinations. These are the initial steps.
- I am also very concerned about tone. I take guys through A Bruised Reed, and some historical accounts of praying pastors like Taking Hold of God and The Secret Life of Prayer.
- Once they seem like they are qualified, synced up philosophically, and hitting the appropriate pastoral tone, then we bring them in to be interviewed, proceeding on with ordination.
Let me give this disclaimer: we are young and trying to work this out. We have not ordained a ton of guys. However, we now have this process in full swing with a number of guys identified and/or in the process. I think it is wise to move slowly and ensure that potential elders are on singing from the same sheet of music. This framework seems to help achieve that end.
Hopefully this is helpful on your end. Feel free to add your own contributions to make it better.