One of the newest Web sites for church leaders, this comes from the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation — the same folks who provide resources at www.TheThoughtfulChristian.com — developed by Presbyterians for Presbyterians, to provide the inspiration and the information necessary to cultivate new congregational leaders and support existing ones. Using the same model as The Thoughtful Christian some resources are available free (Presbyterian social witness statements and a series of Leading Voices essays) while others are available for a fee (approximately $5 per session; some come in packs of multiple sessions) or you can pay a $99/year subscription fee for full access to the Presbyterian Worship Planner, devotions for sessions and committees, leadership development resources, a bi-monthly leader newsletter (that can be e-mailed to all your officers), and other resources.
Developed by five reformed denominations in North America, Opening Doors to Discipleship provides a series of three online courses in the Presbyterian/reformed tradition to equip teachers and leaders. The three courses are Teaching Skills, Bible Background, and Presbyterian/Reformed Faith. The online learning model works with individuals as self-paced instruction but is better suited for a group of officers learning together. PC(USA) congregations, once registered, will have free access to all three courses. Register online or contact Candace Hill, [email protected], at our denominational offices for our denomination login number.
This publication’s own Web site has a wealth of resources for church leaders. (Shameless plug: provide your officers with a yearly subscription to the print version!) The online version has news articles (current and archived), analysis, and opinion pieces to keep your officers informed about the larger church. (If you find an interesting article it can be e-mailed to your officers.) In addition there are sections for Reports and Resources for Church Officers, blogs, discussion forums, a Facebook connection, and much more. (Note: We provide print copies of the Outlook for our officers and occasionally point them to a specific article via e-mail).
The denomination’s Web site has a rich collection of resources to help inform and educate your officers, such as downloadable copies of the Book of Order, The Book of Confessions, and catechisms. In the “Who We Are” section you’ll find brief summaries of Presbyterian beliefs and practices, how we are governed, how we are organized, and the history of the PC(USA).
Officer development curricula
Common Faith, Common Mission, The Office of the General Assembly, Louisville, Ky.
This four-session resource includes session plans, worksheets, and case studies providing a simple, hands-on introduction to Presbyterian life. The four sessions are: Discovering our Foundations, Our Common Faith (The Book of Confessions), Our Common Mission (Book of Order), and Living Out Our Common Faith and Common Mission. There are specific suggestions for using this resource in officer development. It is available online at http://www.pcusa.org/oga/publications/cfcm-workbook.pdf or through your presbytery resource center.
Making Disciples, Making Leaders: a Manual for Developing Church Officers by Steven P. Eason, Louisville, Ky.: Geneva Press, 2004
This book offers a model for selecting and training church officers that is grounded in both teaching Presbyterian content and developing officers as spiritual leaders in your congregation. It provides Biblical principles for team leadership that empower church members to do the work of ministry. It also offers practical help for the nominating process; a structure for four officer training workshops; resources for worship; lesson plans and worksheets for theology, polity, and small groups; and suggestions for reinforcing the model in subsequent years. Note: buy copies for your leaders only unless you want your officers to have the answer keys to the worksheets.
Called to Serve: A Workbook for Training Nominating Committees and Church Officers, edited by Eugene D. Witherspoon Jr. and Marvin Simmers, Louisville, Ky.: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Curriculum Publishing, 1997
This collection remains an excellent source of lessons, worksheets, summaries, and learning activities covering Presbyterian history, beliefs, and government. Four major sections include congregational leadership, training nominating committees, pre-ordination training for officers, and resources for continuing education. A discerning facilitator can pick and choose material to suit any length or setting.
Selected to Serve: A Guide for Church Officers by Earl S. Johnson Jr., Louisville, Ky.: Geneva Press, 2000
This is a great handbook and text for church officer training. Easy to read text with study questions covers the typical issues officers face and the content required for examination. Chapters provide overviews of governance, worship, discipline, the confessions, ordination vows, ethical and professional standards, and helping your church to grow. Scriptural, constitutional, and general indices make for easy reference.
Presbyterian Polity for Church Officers (third edition) by Joan S. Gray and Joyce C. Tucker, Louisville, Ky.: Geneva Press, 1999
This is an in-depth and comprehensive interpretation of the Book of Order. The book’s chapters correspond to the chapters of the BOO providing historical background, a summary of content, and contemporary commentary on the Presbyterian way of doing things. Two detailed indices make this a classic reference tool.
Companion to the Constitution: Polity for the Local Church by Frank A. Beatie, Louisville, Ky.; Geneva Press, 1999, revised 2007
This resource is a summary of the Book of Order pulling together all the various references on a topic and presenting them in a summary form. It is designed to simplify the constitution and make it accessible to church sessions. For example, you will find all the duties of the session compiled from the Form of Government and the Directory for Worship and listed in outline form — a remarkable time saver when trying to get the “big picture.” The most recent (2007) version is available for download from http://www.pcusa .org/oga/publications/constitution-companion.pdf.
The Ordination Questions by Howard L. Rice and Calvin Chinn, Louisville Ky.: Geneva Press, 1996
This booklet focuses on the nine questions asked at ordination/installation. It is divided into eight sessions, which includes a commentary on the question(s) and suggestions for reflection and action — a simple, easy-to-read classic.
Devotion and Discipline: Training for Presbyterian Leaders by Guy Griffin, Louisville, Ky.: Geneva Press, 1999
This study guide uses the Ten Commandments and Lord’s Prayer sections of the Study Catechism to show how the twin virtues of devotion and discipline are central to a Presbyterian understanding of the Christian life. This eight-session group study is recommended for officer training, leadership development, and adult education. Leader’s guide available separately.
Spiritual Leadership for Church Officers: A Handbook by Joan S. Gray, Louisville, Ky.: Geneva Press, 2009
Just released. From publisher’s description: This leadership guide is written for church officers who are looking for a deepened relationship with God as they serve the church. Elders and deacons are challenged to see themselves as spiritual leaders serving alongside their pastors. The author lays out a variety of leadership styles and helps leaders understand when each might be appropriate. The book provides resources for dealing with interpersonal relationships in the church and identifies ways churches can create an atmosphere that is supportive of the spiritual leadership of elders and deacons.
The Presbyterian Elder: an Essential Guide by Paul S. Wright, newly revised by W. Ben Lane Jr., Louisville, Ky.: Geneva Press, 1996
This booklet is somewhat dated but provides a simple, brief overview of the role and responsibilities of elders.
The Presbyterian Deacon: an Essential Guide by Earl S. Johnson Jr., Louisville, Ky.: Geneva Press, 2002
This booklet provides a brief overview of the role and responsibilities of deacons in their ministry of sympathy, witness, and service.
Being Presbyterian in the Bible Belt: a Theological Survival Guide for Youth, Parents, and Other Confused Presbyterians by Ted V. Foote Jr. and P. Alex Thornburg
This simple and slightly irreverent (humorous) book tackles questions from popular culture (e.g. Are you saved or are you a Presbyterian?) and answers them from a thoroughly reformed/ Presbyterian perspective. Discussion questions end each chapter.
Presbyterian Beliefs: a Brief Introduction by Donald K. McKim, Louisville, Ky.: Geneva Press, 2003
This is an overview of basic Presbyterian beliefs. The book is divided into three major sections: The God Who Reveals, Creates, and Guides; The Christ Who Saves People Like Us; and, The Church, Where Faith Begins, Is Nourished, and Grows. Each chapter ends with discussion questions.
Presbyterian Creeds: a Guide to The Book of Confessions by Jack Rogers, Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1991
This book is an in-depth commentary on The Book of Confessions. Each confession is set in its historical context and a thorough commentary provides interpretation on the confession’s meaning today.
Presbyterian Questions, Presbyterian Answers: Exploring Christian Faith by Donald K. McKim, Louisville, Ky.: Geneva Press, 2003
Using a question-answer format the author tackles questions over a broad range of topics and answers each in a clear, understandable way from the heritage of Presbyterian confessions, polity, and practice. Sections include Presbyterian history, Bible, God, Jesus, humanity, Holy Spirit, Salvation, Church, and many more. This text can be used for individual study or easily adapted as a curriculum to cover basic Presbyterian beliefs.
Presbyterians: People of the Middle Way by Harry S. Hassall, Franklin, Tenn.: Providence House Publishers, 1996
Originally developed for new members classes at Highland Park Church, this two-book set (student text and teacher’s guide) provides a simple but comprehensive introduction to what it means to be Presbyterian. The summaries and outlines provide accessible explanations of our history, beliefs, and practices. Can be easily adapted for officer training.
Von Clemans is associate pastor for Christian Education specializing in adult education ministry at Myers Park Church in Charlotte, N.C. He is a facilitator for Healthy Congregations (Family Systems) workshops.