Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My 95 Thesis - Point 12 - Leadership

Here's my 12th Point in My 95 Thesis.

Another topic I think the church should dialog on is leadership. Is there a place for hierarchy in the church? Are some brothers a type of leader who have some special authority over the others? And what about titles, positions, and offices? Are we really doing this by the book?

Of course, in any gathering there will be some who lead others. The guy who starts the wave at a football game is a leader. Not because he has any special authority, but because others see what he is doing and want to follow.

What about elders? I understand there were elders in the NT church... just like there were elders in the OT ... society. However the elders in the OT society were not viewed as spiritual shepherds or overseers. I'm not sure how this translated into the NT church. I suspect it was common to look to the older wise men in the community for advice and guidance. However I don't see Scriptural evidence that these elders made decisions on behalf of the rest of the body.

What about pastors and overseers? I find it interesting that nobody in the NT called themselves these titles. It may be that shepherding and watching for and caring for others is more of description of what we are all called to. It may have had little to do with a title for an office or position. Yes, some will be more gifted than others... so they should be leading by example to encouraging the rest of the body to shepherd and oversee as well. In my opinion the only one who qualifies to use the title Chief Shepherd (or lead pastor) is Jesus.

I suspect if anyone was going around calling themselves 'Pastor' in those days, Jesus would have added that to this list in Matt 23:8-12 (NIV):
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Church history is full of people using titles like preacher, pastor (shepherd), bishop (overseer), clergy, deacon (waiter or servant), priest, minister, reverend, archbishop, cardinal.

But I can't find any evidence those in the early church used any such titles. They refereed to themselves servants, brothers, apostles (sent ones), prisoner.... I think they understood their role and position in this new kingdom Jesus was establishing.

HOWEVER... just because I am questioning the use of the titles Pastor and elder, I do not want anyone to think I am against those who use these titles. I pray I can show grace and love towards my brothers who use these titles. My dad is a retired 'pastor'... and of course I still love him dearly. And I have other good friends who use these titles. I recognize that they are passionately seeking to love and follow the same Jesus I am seeking. In my opinion, it may not be so much about what we call ourselves that matters... but what we do. And I know most people who have used the titles pastor and elder have been doing shepherding, caring, feeding, etc. And we should all strive to follow that example.

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1 comment:

Frank said...

You have been reading my mail, or my thoughts!

I absolutely agree with what you have said here, and have been saying the same things for decades. My views of the hierarchical system did little to endear me to those who love their titles and positions, but it is after all, not their approval which counts, but God's. That is the reason I am now permanently out of the institution.

What you highlight is not just the error of the badges, offices and titles, but the sad fact that this system is broken. IT DOES NOT WORK. It maintains infantilism in the saints.

Feeding milk always makes babies lay back and sleep, and chasing after the Paul's and Apollos's of the church system is directly linked to this by Paul in 1Cor3v1

As one clear example, just take the most abused title of all. PASTOR. I won't look at the other 4 because the average pastor has banned them anyway.

According to Eph4v12 the pastor has the job of "perfecting the saints for the work of the ministry"
Mmmmm, that's a thought!
When I look at the average church, the pastor seems to spend THE WHOLE TIME DOING ALL THE MINISTRY. His prime target seems to be in keeping the saints in "lockdown" in the pews, or doing just HIS bidding.

The average church illustrates the utter failure of the pastor in his job of perfecting the saints. The proof, years later we still find the same saints filling the pews.

The very existence of the same pew fillers year after year is living proof that the pastor should seek another profession.

I just thought I would be a little controversial because so many pussyfoot around the subject.

P.S. who ever said that a Pastor should run the church. Whatever happened to the other four ministries?