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The purpose of this doctoral project is to explore new options for healthy eldership processes at Springwood Church of Christ in Queensland, Australia. The church will face numerous challenges over the coming decade. Excellence in leadership and governance will be required to navigate these well.

For the project, a large amount of data has been collated. This includes a demographic analysis of the local community and the church itself, surveys of current and former elders, research into the history of the church, literature reviews, and a biblical exploration on the topics of elders, leaders, and shepherds. This project provides analysis of the data in order to discern appropriate next steps.

The biblical picture of elders that emerges, especially from Acts 20 and 1 Peter 5, is clear. Elders are shepherds who oversee the church. As shepherds, elders practice five functions undertaken by literal shepherds: feeding the church spiritually; caring for the people, especially the sick; guiding the church in godly directions; guarding the church from dangers; and watching over the church to be aware of their health and potential risks. Elders are also overseers who watch over four groups: themselves as individuals, the elders together as a group, the leaders who report to them, and the church as a whole. Their overall purpose is to help believers participate in the mission of God.

To apply this reframed understanding of elders at Springwood Church of Christ, a number of recommendations are offered. In particular, the recruitment, meetings, training, and relationships between elders should all be amended to reflect the biblical picture of eldership. If elders are important leaders who shepherd and oversee the church, actions and attitudes must adjust to reflect this biblical ideal. The desired result is a healthy church where disciples are made and God is glorified.

Content Reader: Randy Rowland

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Rowland, Randy

Document Type





Springwood Church of Christ (Qld.); Elders (Church officers); Churches of Christ (Australia); Christian leadership; Leadership


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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