I suspect this post has the potential of being a hot topic. Some may disagree with me and that's fine. You are entitled to your opinion - even if it is wrong! (Sorry, just couldn't resist). We're going to look at what has become known as the "office" of the "pastor" in today's modern church. I'm not speaking of the person who fills this office but rather the "office" itself.
Today's pastor is the focal point of the church. It has been said, "A good pastor will take a church a long way. A bad pastor will wreck and destroy a church." Remove the pastor from the equation and you will see a church struggle as they search for the next man to lead God's church.
Would it surprise you to realize there is no Scripture in the NT that supports the existence of the modern day pastor? He didn't exist in the early church. Again, we're talking about the role and office of pastor in today's church, not so much the people who fill that role. The only place "pastor" appears in the NT is in Ephesians 4:11, "And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers". This is the only verse in the NT where the word "pastor" appears. The word is used in its plural form. It appears whoever these pastors are, there are more than one of them in the church. There appears to be no support for the single pastor in the NT church. The Greek word translated "pastors" literally means "shepherds". This word "pastors" is a metaphor to describe a specific function in the church, not a position or office. This idea of professional clergy holding a position of pastor was foreign to the NT church. I have believed for a number of years that Ephesians 4:11 speaks of various functions in the church not officesor positions.
A shepherd's role is to provide nurture and care for the sheep. First century shepherds were the local elders and overseers of the church. That's different than what pastor has come to mean in our day.
Mankind has for centuries wanted someone to lead them. Even Israel wanted a human king instead of living directly under the headship of God (1 Samuel 8:19). Along with man's desire for a human spiritual leader (does that sound contradictory to anyone else?) is his obsession with a hierarchical form of leadership. We've brought in a worldly system to rule and lead God's church. Does anyone else see the problem with this?
The NT never distinguishes between those who do ministry and those to whom ministry is done. There is no clergy/laity distinction. Its just not there. Yet we embrace it while it literally chokes the life out of God's people keeping them from functioning as God intended.
What ever happened to the priesthood of the believer? The church today has become hierarchical with man as it's head. Where does Jesus fit in to the modern church? Or does He?
Being a pastor, in today's modern church, has become more of a career than a calling. There are no second class Christians in the family of God. There is go be no clergy/laity distinction. God intends to for us all to function and minister to one another. Check out the "one another" Scriptures and you'll get a better understanding of this.
The church has become secularized. Through the centuries pagan ways have crept into the church. Having dedicated professional clergy is pagan not Christian. Look at church history.
The apostolic workers of the early church would plant a church, leave and revisit that church after a period of time. In their absence, God would raise up elders in the church. It was a God thing! This was a natural thing. These elders weren't appointed or voted on. They were recognized as elders by virtue of their spiritual growth, maturity and service to God and the church. It’s a natural organic thing. It wasn't meant to be a popularity contest like is so often the case today.
The modern day pastoral office hinders the fulfillment of what God intends for His church. "How so?", you ask. I believe God's intent was and is for an every member to function under the headship of Jesus Christ. I'm talking free, open, mutual participation - the body ministering to the body type gatherings. As long as we set up a man to be the human head of the church we are limiting God's people from functioning as God intended.
Jesus gave His life for the church. Let's not bind up God's people. Let's turn them loose to function! Let's turn them loose to minister to one another. Let's turn them loose to be the church God intends them to be!
Until next time, enjoy the journey!
This blog post is another in a series looking at the practices of churches today and how they line up with the New Testament. Perhaps this series could be better called, "Kicking Over Sacred Cows". For further reading and research, I recommend the book "Pagan Christianity?" by Frank Viola and George Barna.
I want to thank those of you who are sharing this blog with others. I so appreciate it. It's my desire to encourage and challenge believers everywhere to be the church Jesus has called us to be. Leave the baggage or organize religion and serve Jesus in freedom following the leading of the Spirit as we gather in His name. Please feel free to continue to post a link to this blog on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or even email it by using the icons below. Let's see what God will do!