Spiritual oversight by non-pastors, non-overseers in a church

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Marcia, Jul 3, 2006.

  1. Marcia

    Marcia
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    I have a serious question about spiritual oversight in the church.

    [Please do not bring in extraneous stuff like Calvinism/Arminianism, ruliing in the Kingdom, if God loves everyone, etc.!!!!! :smilewinkgrin: ]

    The Bible seems to be clear that shepherds (pastors) and overseers (elders) have spiritual oversight over a church's flock. I would assume this also carries a certain authority.

    My question: What is your response to roles set up in a church (by the pastors) which gives adults who are not pastors or overseers (elders) spiritual oversight and responsibilities over other adults in the flock? (Please leave out children's and youth ministries in this question). Is this biblical in your view? Thanks for responding.
     
  2. Ransom

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    You mean like a Sunday school superintendant, or something like that?

    The Bible says that a proper church is overseen by elders and deacons, but strictly speaking it doesn't say that other, delegated forms of authority are not allowed if there is a perceived need for them.

    Perhaps the argument could also be made that a superintendant or a choir leader or the guy in charge of the audio-visual equipment is also functionally equivalent to a deacon with a specific administrative task. (I'm also assuming that final spiritual oversight remains with the pastors.)
     
  3. El_Guero

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    Marcia

    Not being trivial, cavinistic, arminianistic, or even not serious: but, wouldn't men in roles set up in a church for 'spiritual oversight and responsibilities over other adults in the flock', be 'elders' within the church?

    Wayne


     
  4. Marcia

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    Thanks for the replies, but I'm not talking about SS Superintendents or anyone with a specific job or duty in the church (like audio-visual).

    What about just regular congregants having a spiritual caretaking role over other congregants in small groups? There would be training, but they would not just be a facilitator of the group, but considered a shepherd of the group, with spiritual oversight. This includes women as well as men (women over women's groups).

    My understanding is that the NT is pretty clear on the offices of the church, and to set up another role that involves some of the same spiritual oversight a pastor has in a non-pastor person is what I'm wondering about.
     
  5. canadyjd

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    Maybe these verses will help.

    2 Tim.2:2 "...these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.."

    It really doesn't say these men must be "elders', simply "faithful".

    Titus 2:3-4 "Older woman likewise are to be reverent in their behavior.....teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, love their children...."

    It seems the older women have the role of teaching the younger women.

    Scripture gives congregations a large amount of leeway in the organization and government of the church.
    peace to you:praise:
     
  6. Marcia

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    jd, thanks for the scripture. Do you think the meaning of "teaching" in what you posted includes spiritual oversight, such as encouraging someone in their gifts (and how can they discern those gifts as a teacher?), and other things done by a pastor? These roles would be held by laypeople and they are called Shepherds.
     
  7. El_Guero

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    Marcia

    That is why I asked.

    Small group leadership? Since the average church is 60 to 90 (depends on who is reporting), most would consider deacons of 6 to 9 to be normal - that yields about 10% in leadership.

    Since I like biblical examples, I like what Moses was told by Jethro . . . now that was biblical.

    Women in leadership - now that might cause some trouble. ;)

    Wayne
     
  8. Marcia

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    It's a large church and most of the shepherds are not deacons. I am not asking about deacons or elders. I'm asking about lay people being given a role of spiritual oversight and called a shepherd.
     
  9. saturneptune

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    Marcia,
    This is strictly opinion, but yes, I think those who provide leadership in the church however minor are vital to the local church functioning for the purpose God intends. For example, maybe as simple as the leader of the ushers. Someone has to coordinate the offering. Someone has to take charge of the bus or van ministry to make sure someone is there to take those to church in need. There are many examples of leadership, and God bless them all.

    Deacons are elders, to me are two different types. Deacons are servents, seeing to the needs of the congregation. To me they lead by example. The phrase "deacons run the church" in unBiblical. Elders, on the other hand, (most Baptist churches dont have them), are more of a leadership role in governing the church. As said before, in most Baptist churches, a congregational vote decides many things elders in other churches do.
     
  10. Marcia

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    I don't think people understand my question. I am not asking if there should be leadership in the church besides the pastors. I am not asking about deacons or elders.

    I am asking if spiritual oversight can be given to laypeople, who are not deacons or elders or pastors, who are being called Shepherds.
     
  11. El_Guero

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    Then what would you call Jethro's plan implemented by Moses?

    What do you call servant leadership? How can elders assist in leadership if they cannot lead in small groups?

    How would you implement leadership in small groups? How do you implement spiritual leadership in the Sunday School small groups? Are they or are they not under the leadership of the local church?
     
  12. saturneptune

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    Guess I am lost as to the subject. I can only relate what our church has. We have a pastor and deacons, which this op is excluding. Other leadership positions are those type I gave in an example above. Not sure what you mean by a shepherd.
     
  13. canadyjd

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    I think I am beginning to understand. Are you saying your church has developed an office called "shepherd" that is distinct from pastors and deacons? If so, I will repeat that the church has a lot of leeway in organizing, and as long as it doesn't violate specific scriptures concerning order, attendence, or the administering of the ordinances; I cannot judge what a group of believers has agreed upon.

    I believe with all my heart that it is the Christian duty of every mature believer to be a help and encouragement to less mature believers. This would include discerning gifts (though I personally have little use for "inventories" and other like "surveys".), and the exercise of spiritual disciplines. This is not a role reserved for Pastors, elders, and deacons.

    The qualifications of pastors and deacons in I Tim. and Titus (with the exception of the ability to teach) are simply behaviors and attitudes that every Christian should demonstrate in their lives. Paul is not asking them to be "super christians", he is asking them to model christian behavior for everyone else to follow. I hope that helps.
    peace to you:praise:
     
  14. Deacon

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    Cain asked God, "Am I my brothers keeper?"
    I think the correct response is, "Yes!"
    As part of the family of God we all have the responsibility to teach and care for one another.

    Paul encourages Timothy to develop this practice.

    You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
    The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

    2 Timothy 2:1-2 NAS

    Teachers have oversight responsibilities, it's part of the overall package.

    Rob
     
  15. Marcia

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    But the term "shepherd" in the NT only means the office of pastor. That carries its own requirements and specific spiritual oversight and responsibility, that laypeople don't have (I am not saying non-pastors have no responsibilities!).

    This is putting a layperson above another layperson with the similar authority and responsibility of a pastor, and basically calling them a pastor, when they aren't one. No one sees a problem with this?

    I realize that the character traits of pastors and elders are something all believers should have, but the Bible carefully makes distinctions between pastors/elders and those who are not.
     
  16. canadyjd

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    Question 1. Who decided to call them "shepherds"? Was it the pastor, the board of elders, the deacon board, (all of which represents the church) or the entire church body? Or did they just decide to call themselves "shepherds"?

    Question 2: Is your concern to preserve the authority of the office of pastor/elder, or to protect the congregation from a (non-specific) person who might not be qualified to give spiritual guidence and thus lead someone astray? or is it both? Or is it something else?

    I hope you don't mind the questions. I simply don't see why it matters what the leader of a small group is called, as long as they remain under the authority of the Church.
    peace to you:praise:
     
  17. bapmom

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    Marcia,

    I think I get what you are asking. Ive been in a very large church which had its Sunday School classes further broken up into "care groups". 4 or 5 families were grouped together under a Care Group leader (couple) who had a sort of spiritual oversight for that group.

    I didn't see any problem with this sort of thing, and I don't believe it would have been a problem to have called them shepherds. They are being given a small amount of responsibility in caring for the flock, and for a very large church these smaller groups are an essential part of being sure that everyone is cared for adequately.

    As long as these groups are not so tight-knit that they become essentially a little church within a church.....I see no problem.
     
  18. Marcia

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    I am not sure how Jethro's plan applies - I'll have to look that up.

    I'm not talking about elders.

    I can see people being facilitators to lead groups, but they don't have to be mini-pastors to do so, and have the responsibility of a pastor when they are not a pastor. There are churches with small groups or care groups led by facilitators who do not have specific spiritual authority and oversight over their groups.

    A facilitator is not a shepherd, according to the biblical definition of a shepherd.
     
  19. Marcia

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    As far as I know, it was a pastoral decision.



    Yes, you've understood! Thanks. Yes to the first question here about preserving authority of the office of pastor/elder, and yes to protect the congregation from person who might not be qualified. Also, the concern is the unbiblical use of giving someone who is not a pastor the spiritual responsibilities of a pastor as defined in scripture.

    Okay, I appreciate your feedback, jd. Thanks.
     
  20. mima

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    A person could make a study into the meaning of the word Nicolaitanes. If you make this study please do not get angry with the outcome. Your question by the way is very close to self-examination for the churchy.
     

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