Mark Driscoll on Qualifications of a Church Leader

I had planned on an early night tonight! However, despite my best intentions, this session looks like it will keep me up late once more tonight. I may duck out half way through if I can’t keep my eyes open.

Driscoll began by claiming that, statistically, the only variable that makes a difference to the life or death of a new church plant is the gifting and qualifications of its leader.Pastor Mark Driscoll Driscoll will be bringing a book out on church leadership this summer.

The first and most important officer in the church is God—Jesus is the Senior Pastor of your church. Jesus should be on the organizational chart! He is the Chief Shepherd. Don’t assume ANYTHING. Under Jesus are qualified men, both pastors and elders. The words “pastor” and “elder” can be used interchangeably.

To be qualified, you must be called by God. Driscoll confessed to being functionally charismatic “with a seatbelt.” God calls people today. Acts 20—“Shepherd the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you.”

There has to be a sense of call or desire—it’s not just a matter of being nominated and voted on. There must be a desire to be an elder. God has to clearly call you. Not in an arrogant, proud, or controlling way. If you don’t have that sense of call, you will end up quitting the ministry. You must not limit the ways that God can call you. There needs to be a strong desire to care for God’s people.

1 Timothy 5. The ministry can be described as “ox-like” in the sense of carrying a load, grinding it out, staying faithful.

1 Timothy 2:12 ff—gives the qualifications of an elder. Once you sense a call, then look at the qualifications.

Don’t call the trained. TRAIN THE CALLED.

Driscoll strongly supports the complementarian position. He was very clear that anyone wanting to plant an Acts 29 church needs to agree with the teaching that eldership is male. The government of home is the foundation on which eldership is built. In the family the woman is the helper, the man is the head.

Driscoll made the point that you have to get to know someone over a period of time to see if they are qualified to be an elder. There are lots of character issues. “Beyond reproach” is a catch-all. Must be able to teach in some context or another, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be preaching. This could be in smaller groups—one-on-one or in a discussion group. All your elders do not need to be preachers.

You have to take care of your family first. God takes care of your family THROUGH YOU. God first, family second, ministry third. Be a one-woman man. Ministry will magnify and expose holes in your character. Do you help your wife? Do you care for her? Do you pay attention? Do you train her? Are you alive in conversation with her? Paul and Jesus were single. But in our culture it is very hard for an elder to be single. Most of what you learn about being a pastor will be by being a daddy. Pastors are fathers. Don’t let your children think that the church stole their father. Let your kids love what you love—the church, etc. Take kids whenever possible. Seeing your kids love Jesus is so much more important than church leadership.

Must be emotionally stable. Eldership is a front row seat for sin and depravity. Must be able to live there. Must have self-control. An elder needs to be disciplined in every area of life. Think through every decision and make a plan. No addictions. It is not biblical that alcohol is a sin in and of itself. Jesus took it, and gave it to others. Basically elders should be examples such that others are able to point to them and say, for example, to their daughter, “I want you to marry a man like that.”

Hospitality is crucial. Elders should be welcoming to strangers, new people, non-Christians, etc. Pastors need to be evangelistic. BUT, be discerning and guard your home and family. Don’t close your home.

Anger is more of a challenge to the average pastor than many people realize.

Also, you will need a gift of apostleship—a church planting/missionary gift. Someone who pastors a church that is an existing body is a different guy from one who starts something new. In planting a church, you need to be entrepreneurial and have the ability to attract people to follow you.

You will also need to have the ability to preach and defend the gospel. You will need to refute false doctrine. You can’t be frightened by wolves! Too many shepherds are just sheep. You don’t know if you have a sheep or a shepherd until a wolf turns up!

You must also be an equipper of others. (Ephesians 4:13)

Define the role of your wife. Don’t make her sit in the front row or be present at every event. It’s not a two-for-one deal. You want her to be a mature Christian who is serving in the church as appropriate. She must love you and care for your children. The pastor needs emotional support and sexual companionship. Marriages in the church will imitate the leaders.

Some elders are like prophets, some like priests, some like kings. As a prophet, Jesus proclaimed the truth—corrected elders. Some elders are like that. Can call to repentance. The priest loves people. They do hospital visits and weddings. They are compassionate. They like to encourage people and shepherd them. The prophet yells over them at the crowd. Kings like systems, teams, measurable results, leadership.

Most of the prophets are reformed. Most of the priests are doing the whole emerging thing. Most of the kings are in the mega-churches. Some will be both. Need an eldership that has each of these aspects and learn. Read outside of your tribe. For example, learn to get organized by reading a book and get some systems together. Be humble enough to learn from all of them! And be discerning enough to know what not to agree with.

We want to build biblical, loving, effective churches.

Well, I kept my eyes open, but am off to bed. If you want to follow other sessions, you can do it live online at

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