Elders’ Development

The following events have been offered periodically, typically as whole day courses. If your eldership/Synod Area would be interested in holding an event locally (on these or other topics relevant to elderships), please contact the Development Officer.  

A. “Thinking about eldership….”

AIM: To explore the United Reformed Church’s vision of eldership, enable elderships to reflect on how they can be more effective, and enable serving elders and those considering eldership to reflect on the priorities of that role and their own calling to it.


  • Elders who are new to the role
  • Elders and elderships who wish to consider afresh their own role as such  
  • Church members who have been asked to think about becoming elders but who wish to explore what the role entails. A Synod-organised event would offer them the opportunity to consider these issues in a context where there will be “no strings attached”.

[This training has typically been carried out in the form of consultations with particular eldership(s) but the Development Officer would be pleased to run this as an open event if there were demand.]

B. “Be shepherds of God’s flock”:

Pastoral Oversight and Pastoral Care

BACKGROUND: the elders’ meeting has the responsibility to “ensure pastoral care of the congregation”.

AIM: To enable elders to develop a Biblical and theological understanding of the nature of pastoral oversight and pastoral care so that they are better equipped to develop these within their own congregation


  • Serving elders, preferably several from the same congregation
  • Elders who have never received any training in the above or wish to have a refresher
  • Non-serving elders with ongoing formal responsibilities for pastoral care (e.g. have pastoral lists)
  • The ministers of other attendees
  • We particularly encourage attendance by groups of elders from the same church.

[This event was last offered at Streatham URC on 5 October 2013. Similar training will be made available if there is demand]

C. “Effective Pastoral Care – putting it into practice”

AIM: To enable elders (and other pastoral carers) to identify ways of developing pastoral care (in the full sense) in their congregations; in particular to develop their use of the Bible and prayer in their pastoral relationships.

COMMENT: One of the challenges identified in training sessions on Pastoral Oversight and Pastoral Care has been to take seriously the need to assist people in their faith journey. Hence the need to explore using the Bible and prayer.


  • Serving elders
  • Non-serving elders (or other carers) with ongoing formal responsibilities for pastoral care (e.g. have pastoral lists)
  • We particularly encourage attendance by groups of elders from the same church as elders
  • The ministers of other attendees
  • Those who attended training ‘“Be shepherds of God’s flock”: Pastoral Oversight and Pastoral Care’

D. “Planning Worship: an Introductory Workshop for Elders and Worship Teams”

AIM: This event will consider some general principles of planning worship, with group work to enable participants to work out how they (in particular as a group of elders) might plan a Sunday service in an emergency.


  • Elders, particularly those who have not trained for worship-leading (N.B. One of the functions of the elders’ meeting is “(ii) to see that public worship is regularly offered and the sacraments are duly administered…..” even though elders as such have not typically been worship leaders)
  • worship groups, particularly those who have not received training for leading worship or studied the theology of worship
  • Any who undertake occasional tasks in worship (e.g. lead prayers of intercession) or might be interested in doing so
  • Any who wish to gain a better theological overview of worship.

E. “Called to preach? A workshop for newcomers”

BACKGROUND: Whereas the emphasis of event D (“Planning Worship”) was is to enable students to plan an order of service from scratch in an emergency, “Called to preach? A workshop for newcomers” is designed to enable newcomers to write a short sermon (talk).

It is notoriously difficult to tell whether God may be calling someone to preach or teach without their actually trying it out, so I hope that the event will provide a safe environment for experimentation.

Aim: To understand what preaching is, basic techniques of sermon (talk) writing, and write a short sermon (talk) based on a specified Bible text, preach it and reflect with other members of the group on the process of doing so.

Suitable for:

  • Serving elders, particularly those who have not trained for worship-leading, who might be required to preach in an emergency
  • Any who are interested in the process of preaching, feel potentially interested in preaching but have not yet undergone formal training for the task.
  • Leaders of study groups who have to give short talks on Bible texts within those groups

[This event was offered twice during 2012. Similar training will be offered again if there is demand.]