What is the Biblical basis for a senior pastor or sole pastor model?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Greektim, May 30, 2012.

  1. Greektim

    Greektim
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    Not only does the NT see eldership in a plurality, but there is no hierarchy in that eldership. Where does the lead-man model come from?

    Confession time. I used to be the sole pastor of a church. No plurality at all. If God intended an equality and plurality of elders, then it is no wonder I failed.
     
  2. mandym

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    There is nothing in the Nt that suggests it has to be one or the other. It's just not there.
     
  3. AresMan

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    There is no Scripture that presents "one elder to rule them all." I actually had a small discussion of this in my book on tithing. In a chapter on "Double Honor for Elders" I observed the development of the hierarchy/single-elder position from the third-century seed of the Catholic church.

    The Biblical model is a plurality of equal elders. God instituted checks and balances in the church.
     
  4. jonathan.borland

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    Ignatius? Oh yeah, he's not in there, is he?
     
  5. mont974x4

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    I agree with the understanding of multiple, and equal, elders. The Bible does not command this however it is the model seen whenever they are mentioned. These should be spiritual leaders in the church. There should also be a plurality of deacons attending to the daily business of the church.

    This is something I am wanting to ensure is either in place, or is understood that it will be put in place over time, in my next church. The idea of a board, or worse congregational votes, is not in Scripture and is not healthy for the church.
     
  6. TCGreek

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    I'm in full agreement. However I want to take the matter further on the basis of texts like Eph. 4:11 and 1 Tim. 5:17, which speak of "especially those whose work is preaching and teaching."

    Neither do I consider Timothy and Titus as what we call Senior Pastors but rather as Apostolic Delegates.
     
  7. mont974x4

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    I understand the offices in Eph 4 as elders. They are all positions of spiritual influence and responsibility.

    I'd agree with your assessment of Timothy and Titus, though I would see them as evangelists , and prophets, based on the list of Eph 4.
     
  8. jonathan.borland

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    There is no such thing as a bunch of humans with equal authority ruling anything. All triumvirates eventually break down. Most countries' governments, ordained of God, don't have multiple leaders for good reason. Read Acts 15. If James wasn't the primary leader Luke could have fooled me. In the beginning the old people were respected and were natural leaders. Later on younger guys, e.g. Timothy, could assume the role. Also, the leaders of clans would be natural leaders of the churches that started in their homes, e.g. Cornelius, Philemon, Gaius, etc. You also have the generation just after the apostles, e.g. Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, and they were singly authoritative in their respective churches. Just because a baby sucks a pacifier doesn't mean he'll do so the rest of his life.
     
    #8 jonathan.borland, Jun 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2012
  9. Greektim

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    JB... you are arguing for a practice (an important one mind you) based on a principle of human government and Acts 15. You didn't cite anything prescriptive but only descriptive.

    I would argue that the very fact that "Most countries' governments, ordained of God, don't have multiple leaders for good reason" is an even better reason that those part of the Kingdom of God would practice something different! The Biblical model never places one individual to oversee a church by himself.

    Plurality and Equality of elders!!! (battle cry ;))
     
  10. freeatlast

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    I am inclined to believe that the whole western world of pastor authority or deacon authority or even in a plurality rule is incorrect based on scripture.
    The way the church is to be set up is to be lead by example, not by strong arm. The Pastor is to be so respected because of his walk with the Lord and his handling of the word that the people follow like sheep, not driven like cattle.
    So like i said I think the failure is in the thinking that deacons, elders, pastors are to be in some kind of ruling position either collectively or as with one being superior.
    I suggest that the word example be looked up in a concordance and see how it applies to the church and its leadership. They are never told to rule by authority or power.
     
  11. 12strings

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    I have yet to see any scriptures propose that "prescribe" plurality any more than single-or senior pastor. We have some descriptive passages that are unclear at best.

    I would say checks and balances are a must, but having a leader is also a must. If you have 2 senior pastors, or 5, especially in a smaller church, it is going to get very confusing very fast, espcially if you decide you need someone who is a full-time minister to devote more time to ministry...which one of them do you choose? If you do have one paid "elder" and 4 unpaid elders, do you not invest in the paid elder more responsibilities?
     
  12. The Archangel

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  13. The Archangel

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    Here also is a free .pdf download of Mark Dever's Book By Whose Authority: Elders in Baptist Life. Download it here.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  14. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    I'm wondering if multiple pastors was more of a practical requirement than an ecclesiological imperative, particularly in young churches.

    I'm thinking of the communal model in Acts, where everybody had everything in common. That's the last we hear of that, probably because it just didn't work. Nice try, no cigar.

    I'm convinced that not all elders were equal. Partly because it doesn't work. It doesn't work in churches today, and it certainly doesn't work in business. You can't have equal partners or there's probably going to be gridlock.

    When they had the big counsel in Jerusalem, didn't James preside? Wasn't he THE pastor of FBC Jerusalem? Even thought the apostles were also there for a while, James was the pastor, and I don't think he had any co-pastors with equal power.

    When Paul wrote to Timothy, I don't remember his greeting being to Timothy and the other pastors at Ephesus. It was to Timothy alone.

    I'm not necessarily advocating a hierarchy of elders; only that if there are multiple elders, one of them has to be in charge. Isn't that the way it is in most churches which have multiple elders today?

    So, what does my church have? It's elder-led. We have one elder. We call him pastor. Sometimes I call him bishop.
     
  15. 12strings

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    I don't necesisarily think a plurality of elders is wrong, I simply don't think it is in opposition to or incompatible with a senior pastor.

    It seems that elder, bishop, overseer, pastor are all used of the same office in the NT.

    In our Church, we have come to believe that a "plural-elder" model is a good one, but since "pastor" is the term most people are familiar with, we now have 3 paid "pastors" and one unpaid "pastor." We see 1 or 2 other men who seem qualified and willing who may likely become additional unpaid "pastors" in the near future.

    However, one of our "Elder/pastors" is the Senior Pastor. If we had 4 senior pastors, it wouldn't work as well.
     

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