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                                                              Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons
                                                                                                  by Thabiti M. Anyabwile
                                                                                                 (9Marks/Crossway, 2012)

                                                                                                      by Fred G. Zaspel

I think very highly of my friend Thabiti Anyabwile, and when his new book was released I ordered a case of them sight unseen. I expected it to be a very helpful part of our leadership training and development process in our church - which now it has been. What I did not expect was that it would so quickly be added to our “Required Reading For All Future Deacons and Elders” list. But this book very easily merits this distinction.

This book is simply a practical exposition of 1 Timothy 3-4. Thabiti walks us through the qualifications for the office of deacon and then of elder (1 Tim. 3) and then proceeds to a display of the elders’ function and responsibilities (1 Tim. 4). Each virtue (qualifications) and each exhortation (duties) is examined, defined, and practically applied. And all along the way we are given suggested questions for evaluating and interviewing prospective church leaders.

On one level this book is designed to show us, as per 1 Timothy 3-4, what biblical leaders in the local church are and what they do. And it does so very well, clearly and simply written, easily within the grasp of any reader. These biblical passages are familiar to us, of course, and we have all heard and/or read expositions of them. But the expositions here are genuinely fresh, and the book is much more than a “Here’s what a biblical church leader looks like” - although it is that, and very helpfully so. Quite frankly I have never been so struck with the need, the value, the beauty, and the nobility of the church offices - especially that of deacon - as I was while reading the brief treatment given it here. Indeed, this is one of the leading values of the book. Its characterization of local church ministry as biblically conceived is invigorating. I was not five minutes into the book before my heart was already swelled with its biblical vision for effective local church gospel ministry. Thabiti does not write primarily as a motivator, but his reminder of the apostolic emphasis and focus on training church leaders for each new generation is so exciting, and the specific, practical, biblical counsel he provides is so clear and useful that any reader will walk away from the book with both a clear vision of the shape of local church ministry and a new desire to see it become a reality - and to be a part of it - in their own local church.

The value of Nine Marks ministries to local churches has been proven many times over, and we are thankful for them. And with this book their strategic helpfulness has taken yet another giant step forward. Brief, easy to read, clear, informative, effective, valuable. Buy it by the box-full, and place a copy in the hands of every leader and potential leader in your church!