Must a NT Church have a plurality of Elders??

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Allan, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. Allan

    Allan
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    In another thread this question was sort-of brought up.
    Tom Bulter stated in a post in his thread "True Church Disqualifiers" this:
    To this TCGreek responded:
    So I stet up this debate thread to discuss this :)

    I responded to TCGreek with this:
    I think there is safety in a number of elders regarding doctrine and practice and Church disipline. But I have not found any scriptural mandate, command, or instruction that a church is required to have such.


    Let the debate begin :)
     
  2. Crabtownboy

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    Our church has no elders and no deacons. We have Ministry Groups and everyone, members and long-term attendees are expected to be a part of the ministry group they feel led to. The chairperson of each ministry gruop is a member of the Church Council ... but anyone can and is encouraged to attend Chruch Council meetings.
     
  3. Allan

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    Elders/bishops are pastors - I am 'assuming' you know this (and no - I'm not being trite or condesending just asking)?
    So your saying that your church has no pastor per-say but that everyone in your 'group(s)' is basically a pastor?
     
  4. Crabtownboy

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    Yes, we have a pastor but we never use the word elder. Perhaps it is simply a matter of semantics ... not sure. In fact, I have never been in a church where the word elder has been used. Yes, I have always been a Baptist.

    Instead of saying each person in the congregation is a pastor, I would say each person is a minister. Their ministeries differ. Our interim pastor is a counselor with those accused and/or accused of sexual abuse of others. Each person has their ministry in the world. I believe the primary job of the pastor of a church is to help prepare the other ministeries in the church to perform their ministeries in the world.
     
  5. Allan

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    Ok, I just wasn't sure what you were saying in your previous post.
    A pastor is an elder and though the a bishop is as well it I have seen it said that this term is the same for what we in the West call a senior or head Pastor. But I have also seen other who say it is a term that identifies a different aspect of the office as that of the elder/pastor.

    I understand about everyone in the church is a minister (with respect to a general sense in which everyone is gifted for 'their' ministries) and agree with in that sense. However we must differenciate between different ministries and the titles they might have so as not to confuse people. A minister is simply someone who has a particular ministry through and in which they are currently working. But we must also be careful to understand that words have various meanings and whithout elaboration about what 'you' mean by minister, many will assume they are pastors, or as in other churches they might think they are some form of a hierarchy.
     
    #5 Allan, Jan 2, 2009
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  6. Jim1999

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    This elder thing is somewhat new. I guess some new blokes to ministry had to introduce something clever.

    Baptists always had pastors and deacons. The pastor was called to lead the church and deacons were elected by the church. Whilst deacon were basically servants, they were also the spiritual "giants" of the church. Often deacons took over the pulpit in the absence of the pastor; the led the door-to-door visitation programs and so on. We hired a caretaker to take out the trash, mow the turf, clean up the church building and all.

    Most of our church doctrinal statements said we recognize two officers in the church; pastors and deacons.

    One pastor served a church up to say 500 families. Some took on a student to (1) help out and learn from the pastor, and (2) help him with school costs. We usually elected 7 deacons, but some churches were too small to have more than three or four deacons.

    Back in the 50's and 60's, we had not a few churches with a few thousand members and ONE pastor. The odd church had two pastors. It seems the better educated they became, the more assistants they needed.

    On the terms, bishops, elders, pastors, elder run churches some of us older folks call it the garbage run of modernity. The names listed above are all terms for the same office; the pastor (pastor) became a name because we didn't like being called the "Rev" and it soon caught on as a name rather than just an office.

    OK. Have a go as it.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  7. Allan

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    Cool, but Jim you left out the most important part--

    Must a church have a plurality of elders/pastors if it is a NT Church? :smilewinkgrin:
     
  8. Bob Alkire

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    NO,NO,NO!!!! If you read what Jim said and I'm a little younger than He but a lot older than a lot of folks here. Back in the 60's when I pastor-ed my first church, I don't know if I had ever seen a church with more than one pastor and quite a few of those churches had 500 to 800 at services. I knew there had been churches with more than one pastor but had never seen one, J. Frank Norris' First Baptist Fort Worth, Tx. had a few, I don't know about First Baptist Dallas at that time, but in years to come yes they did. I know as a child I had never seen a church with more than one pastor or a paid music man.

    Again I've seen what Jim said, the more education of the pastor the more pastors or elders the church had. If the pastor went to a seminary like Grace or Dallas the pastor seem to have less help, if he went to Southern he seem to have more help, and if you ever came across a pastor who had his Doctorate, he seems to need lots of help. Keep in mind in the 40's,50's and 60's money was very tight and churches tried to keep out of debt and the pastor, deacons and members did most of the work around the church house or that is the way it was where I am from.

    And again as Jim said, in a Baptist church I never heard the word elder speaking as a pastor till about late 70's or early 80's.
     
  9. Tom Butler

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    My take is that each church had the number of elders that its size required. Since there were likely a number of preaching stations (no big church building), most likely they met in houses, and needed an elder for each house meeting.

    In Acts 20:28, the men Paul addressed are all three---elders who were pastors and bishops. Elder refers to the man, pastor and bishop refer to their roles and responsibilities.

    So, I agree with Allan. Many early congregations had a plurality of elders out of practical considerations.

    As a result, many churches today have a plurality of elders, even though they may not call them that. We all know of churches which have a pastor and a bunch of associate pastors. Or they might call them Executive Pastor, Senior Pastor, Worship Pastor, Youth Pastor, Geezer Pastor, etc.

    I read where the huge Bellevue Baptist Church near Memphis has 187 deacons, for its 30,000 members. I doubt if it could function very well with only seven deacons.

    TC, help us out. What roles to your elders play in church life? What are their responsibilities?
     
    #9 Tom Butler, Jan 2, 2009
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  10. Allan

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    True enough and I understand that was the way it was and the term 'elder' was not used, however just because we do something does not always means it is correct.

    This is why I am asking the posters if a church 'must' have a plurality of elders as a proper NT Church. And if so please show where scripture commands or instructs it to be so.

    From your post I take you and Jim both agree that a church biblically does not 'have to have' a plurality of elders or pastors (or whatever you want to call them).


    I will go one step further and state that a church does not necessarily have to have deacons in order to be a NT Church either. (that might get a little more debate going :) ).
     
  11. Allan

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    So far I have 1 definate agreement that the Church does not necessarily have to have a plurality of elders, and 2 more possible (I'm almost sure but want them to state one way or another), as well as my own vote in the same catagory.

    That is a total of 2 definate and 4 potential total for "No" in that a Church must have a plurality of elders.
     
    #11 Allan, Jan 2, 2009
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  12. Tom Butler

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    I should have been clearer. Make mine a definite No, a plurality elders are not a must.

    Wait a minute. Should I have said Yes? Does No (what I said) mean Yes (what you said}?
     
    #12 Tom Butler, Jan 2, 2009
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  13. Allan

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    LOL.. Yours was the 1 definate one brother.

    The others (Jim and Bob) stated that they never heard the term elder and that some church during the time's of the 50's and 60's they had one pastor to a church with some possibly having more. Their were the 'potentials' that I am sure are actauly "no" you don't need to have a plurality of elders.


    EDITED:.. you're killing me with laughter Tom.

    Answering the OP question with a yes or no:
    Must a NT Church have a plurality of Elders??
     
  14. Allan

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    I editted my response to you Tom.

    Maybe I should have made this a Poll :smilewinkgrin:
     
  15. Tom Butler

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    Allan, you're doing just fine. I haven't been up long enough for the coffee to kick in. If that excuse for fuzziness doesn't work, I have a bunch more.
     
  16. Jerome

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    My answer: No, a NT church should not be governed by an oligarchy.

    I don't know what Bible that is from. My Bible says Paul was writing to a church of saints, with bishops and deacons.
    You'll find "plurality of elders" in your Presbyterian Book of Order.
     
    #16 Jerome, Jan 2, 2009
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  17. Bob Alkire

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    Can't speak for Jim, he does quite well on his own, but yes you have me correct.

    Good question!!! I've been a member of a few churches which did not have a deacon or didn't have one at that time. As of now I will say this and I might change my mind with more thought but many a church does not have enough men to have a deacon, as a child I've been to churches that the only man their was the pastor.

    With the above said, what does one do if a church has only women and children and no man, does the women give the messege? I know a pastor is a man, but from reading of church history in the west as well as other places, many a church was full of children and women and no men. I believe Ma Sunday was know to speak in churches.
     
  18. Aaron

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    There's no commandment for plurality; it just happens. We usually call the other elders "deacons," and perhaps there is a need for instruction in that area, but plurality just happens. It's inevitable.
     
  19. saturneptune

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    Deacons are not elders. They are servants, and have no governing authority. Phrases such as "deacons run the church" or "the deacons ran the pastor off" are either myths, or the congregation has given up its power to deacons that they were never authorized to have.

    Since there is no Biblical mandate either way on elder rule or congregational rule, I will go with congregational rule.
     
  20. Aaron

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    It doesn't matter what you call them. It's how they function that defines them. If a church calls a group of men "deacons," though they are functioning as elders, then they're elders.

    My point was that plurality of elders is inevitable.

    Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 1Ti 5:17

    It seems that God has given elders are given some authority to rule. [And, no, I am not a minister myself, and neither do I desire the office.]
     

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