Five Tests for Wannabe Pastors/Elders/Church Planters

Here are five tests we use at Coram Deo and within Acts 29 to determine whether a man is called, gifted, and qualified to be a pastor/elder.

  • The Faithfulness Test (Luke 16:10) – have you proven faithful and fruitful over time in ministry and leadership? Have you established an observable track record of faithfulness to Jesus, steady leadership in your family, and gospel influence on people?
  • The Holy Spirit Test (1 Timothy 3:1; 1 Peter 5:2) – has the Holy Spirit given you a desire to shepherd the flock of God? Has He affirmed this desire and confirmed your calling through the counsel of wise mentors and spiritual leaders?
  • The Competence Test (Titus 1:5-9) – are you willing to put in the hard work, study, work, and preparation it will take in order to meet the rigorous biblical criteria for eldership? Are you willing to submit yourself to assessment and development?
  • The Compatibility Test (Galatians 2:7-8) – are you compatible with our unique context, DNA, and distinctives? (It’s possible for a man to be godly, faithful, called, and competent, but still not a good fit for the particular ministry and mission God has called our church to).
  • The Assessment Test (1 Timothy 3:4-10; Proverbs 22:1) – does your life stand up under scrutiny? Do you have a good and godly reputation among both Christians and non-Christians? Do your spouse, your kids, and your peers willingly follow your leadership and respect your character?


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  1. I have a question for you. As a church plant that is a year old now, is it too early to place an elder? I have a wonderful man who has functioned in leadership for the past year and who meets the qualifications of an elder. I would love to place him in as an elder, but I have heard concerns from some in the church that we are too young to have elders. What would be your advice with such limited knowledge on our particular situation?

    Thank you,
    Steven White

  2. Steven, this is a totally contextual call. I have seen guys make the wrong decision both ways. Depends on the size of your church, the missional health of your church, and whether the potential elder has the respect and trust of all your people. Installing an elder too soon can calcify the missional momentum of the church, moving you into a phase of building structures and processes before it’s actually time (and thus freezing your growth). Waiting too long can hinder your leadership development pipeline and build a cult of personality around you (which you don’t want). My advice: pray lots and seek counsel from wise people who know your church, your context, and the other man you’re talking about.

  3. Do you think the tide has turned? Meaning, that not enough men wanted to be pastors back in early Christianity (Paul’s statement about aspiration being a good thing). And now too many want to be?

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