Leader’s Ministry

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood.” —Acts 20:28 (ESV)

In the book of Acts, Paul warned the Ephesian Elders to be alert because he knew how their faith would be challenged. Paul spent years training and equipping the leaders of the early church to be anchored in truth, knowledgeable in theology, and grounded in the Gospel, and then he warned them of the dangers of “men speaking twisted things.” At CDM, we want to help you train and equip your leaders to be pillars of strength in your church.

As we prepare leaders to step up and serve, we must equip them for a different kind of leadership than the world promotes. We must teach them to be humble, sacrificial, knowledgable, wise and courageous. The responsibility of leading in the church is not to be taken lightly, and the kind of servant leadership Jesus modeled doesn’t come naturally. That is why it so important to provide all of the leaders in our churches, from the small group leader to the elders and pastors, with the training and wisdom they need to protect the peace and purity of our churches.

As we collect resources from PCA churches across the country, we are continually updating the Leader’s Ministry Resources page. If you have a resource that you would be willing to share, we would love to hear about it!


We will help you find the answers to your questions about leadership. Feel free to call or e-mail us and tell us about your church. At CDM, we are committed to helping you find the answers you need. Here are some questions we frequently hear:

Depending on the size of your church, the structure of shepherding your leaders can be simple or complex, but it should include:

  • Equipping – Leadership that follows the example of Christ doesn’t come naturally. Leaders need to be equipped with a Biblical understanding of servant leadership, and they need to be equipped for the ministry they are called to lead. It has been said that every leader should be a learner. We would agree. Training for leaders should be ongoing. CDM can help you. Bring CDM to your church or presbytery by emailing us here.
  • Accountability – Jesus warned his disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14).  No leader is perfect, but accountability is an important part of learning to depend on the Holy Spirit in the face of temptation. Have a system in place where your leaders are allowed to share their struggles and are held accountable. See our own sample  accountability questions here or look under our Leader’s Ministry Free Resource page!
  • Prayer – In the epistles, Paul often encouraged church leaders by telling them how he prayed for them. Your leaders need to know that you and your church are praying for them regularly, and they need to be encouraged to pray for each other.

Paul said “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Though Paul’s claim seems bold, it is very much what we are looking for in a discipleship leader: someone whose pursuit and devotion to Christ can be imitated, but what that looks like from leader to leader may vary. How do you discern a potential leader’s devotion to Christ? Pray, pray, and pray some more. Dependence on the Holy Spirit is crucial as you ask these questions:

  • When was the last time you read your Bible? What has the Lord been teaching you lately in your Bible reading? Do you have a plan or system that helps structure your devotions? A good leader should be spending regular time in God’s Word that they can then share with their group.
  • When was the last time you attended corporate worship? Commitment to your church and obedience to observing the sabbath is an important part of leadership.
  • What Bible verse have you committed to memory, and how has God used His Word in your life? A good leader should be able to share how God’s Word is living and active in his life.
  • What does your prayer life look like? A good leader should be able to model an active prayer life.

Some churches require discipleship leaders to pass a class on the basic Biblical knowledge and theology. Depending on the level of teaching required of your leaders, that may not be necessary, but it would probably be beneficial.

As you recruit leaders, don’t forget the importance of ongoing training and shepherding. Check in with them regularly to see how their groups are going, and make sure they have access to the tools and accountability that will make them effective leaders. Here is a list of Accountability Questions from our Leader’s Free Resource page.

The Constitution of the PCA consists of the doctrinal standards set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith, together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, and the Book of Church Order. The Bible is not part of the Constitution because the Constitution is subject to and subordinate to the Scriptures since they are the inerrant Word of God (Preface to the BCO, Section III).

Two words are important – relational and incremental. Be diligent to watch for those God is preparing for leadership. Take the initiative to speak with potential leaders, listen for their passions, and find ways to use their gifts. Not all are called to lead. That’s why we encourage making the road to leadership an incremental process. In many churches, potential leaders begin by serving on ministry teams or as assistant teachers.  Allow potential leaders to gain experience, confidence, and credibility with the congregation, while at the same time giving your experienced leaders the opportunity to observe and evaluate them.

As you seek to  equip your church’s discipleship leaders, you first need to:

  • Know Your Participants. A group of freshmen boys is very different from a group of young moms or a group of middle aged couples. And even within each of those groups, each learner can engage with information differently. Understanding the unique needs of those in your group  is essential as you seek to intersect faith with real day to day life. We have resources that can help you. Just follow this link to our Leader’s Ministry Resources.
  • Define the purpose of your groups.  Is your group meeting to build community, learn a new truth, develop better habits, deeply study Scripture, or to develop relational skills? Many groups might have a blend of purposes, but equipping leaders with a focused vision and purpose can be helpful in keeping each group on target. Knowing a group’s purpose also helps set reasonable expectations for participants. If someone just wants community, the may not want to commit to an in-depth study of Romans. By clearly defining the purpose of each group in advance, both leaders and participants know what the commitment means. A helpful tool from our Leader’s Toolbox has some great questions to ask as you organize your groups. Check out an article on Organizing Discipleship 
  • Provide trusted resources. Leaders need resources that make leading a group easy. CDM can help. We have a whole list of resources we have recommend for small groups. You can see them in our Bookstore here: Small Group Books

We also have lots of resources that can help you equip your discipleship leaders, just click here.

According to the Book of Church Order, the  Deacon is an office of “sympathy and service”, while the Elder is an office of “dignity and usefulness”.

The Book of Church Order outlines the roles of each in Chapters 8 & 9. You can order your copy of the Book of Church Order here.

When the Holy Spirit is calling a man to serve as an officer a manifestation of both desire and ability to serve should be evident. Other people in the congregation must acknowledge that desire and ability, ultimately leading to the man’s nomination. A session will then determine if the man is biblically qualified and competent to serve the church as an elder or deacon and will place his name before the congregation for election. If the man is elected by the congregation to be an officer, the session then ordains and installs him in the office. “Ordinary vocation to office in the church is the calling of God by the Spirit, through the inward testimony of a good conscience, the manifest approbation of God’s people, and the concurring judgment of a lawful court of the church (BCO 16-1).”

Click on the words to order your copy of the Book of Church Order

  • The Preface, especially the Preliminary Principles
  • BCO 8 The Elder
  • BCO 9 The Deacon
  • BCO 12 The Church Session
  • BCO 24 Election, Ordination and Installation of Ruling Elders and Deacons
  • BCO 25 Congregation Meetings
  • BCO 27 Discipline – Its Nature, Subjects and Ends
  • BCO 56-58 The Administration of Baptism, Admission to the Sealing Ordinances, and Lord’s Supper.

The issue of a limited term for church officers has been debated throughout the history of the PCA, but there is no definitive statement in the Book of Church Order (BCO) or from the General Assembly. BCO 24-7 states that ordination to an office is perpetual; however, an officer may be released from the active duties of his office. Some congregations use this principle as justification for allowing a man to remain ordained to the office of elder/deacon but not active in his service as an elder/deacon (i.e., “rotate off” the Session or Diaconate). Other congregations emphasize the perpetual nature of the office and decide to have an officer serve as long as he is able/willing to serve. If a congregation decides to have terms for the officers, it is prudent for the policy to be included in the church bylaws.

We offer a variety of options to help:

Visit our Leader’s Ministry Resources page, which includes resources on Discipleship for Leaders, Elders/Deacons, Pastoral Search, and articles for leaders.


Stephen Estock
CDM Coordinator

Stephen Estock has a B.A. in Political Science from Rhodes College, an M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Education from Capella University. When he’s not coordinating the ministry of CDM, he loves to do yard work and DIY projects around the house.

Dennis Bennett
Resource Coordinator

Dennis Bennett has a BA from the State Un. of NY (history) & a M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary; DRE, Trinity Theological Seminary. He was a professor of Christian Education at the Bible Institute of South Africa, and has worked for the PCA since 2006. He also serves the Metro Atlanta Seminary.