Tag Archive: pastor


Organic Church proponents, of whom I am one, are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water when it comes to our view on preaching, teaching and big meetings. The typical style of a modern church meeting in the west, where teachers and preachers speak to large audiences sitting in rows, is getting a bad rap from some in the organic church.  Frustrated by the stifling of their gifts and the lack of participation of themselves and others in church life, some have responded by seeing the activity of meeting in buildings and listening to a teacher or preacher while looking at the back of another person’s head as the problem.  But is it? Isn’t the problem rather that this kind of meeting has usurped the many other expressions of church? In fact, hasn’t this happened to the extent that this meeting is even commonly known as “church?” And, isn’t it true that these meetings get handled as if they had premier status over any other that the church may have?

Firstly, is the idea of sitting in a large building to hear a man teach or preach unbiblical? While homes were undoubtedly the most commonly used venues for church meetings in New Testament times, nevertheless, these larger meetings played a major part in Jesus’, Paul’s, Peter’s and others’ ministries.  And, this was not only in the temple while it still stood, and in the Jewish synagogues, but this practice of speaking to large groups in ad hoc and formal setting happened at various times in various places. Jesus addressed crowds on many occasions, for example, on a mountain with the Sermon on the Mount, and similarly in a valley, and also from a boat, in the Temple and in synagogues. Peter, Paul and others did so too. In fact, on one occasion, Paul chose to use a hall for the ministry he had in Ephesus and he did so for two years.

“But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation (synagogue), he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.  This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.  And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them…many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices” (Acts19:9-12,18).

While it can be rightly argued that the home became the common place for church meetings, they certainly were not the only place. In the above text we see that while Paul was in Ephesus he chose to use a “hall” as a place to minister from.  Although homes became wonderful venues for the church to meet in, larger venues were great and effective places for certain forms of teaching and preaching.

Let’s not bark up the wrong tree!

I believe that the problem is not with these larger meetings, but it’s rather with the typical church governance practiced in most churches. Up-and-coming preachers or teachers usually embrace the common system of church governance in front of them, unaware that it’s unbiblical. In its basic form, they get given the title “Pastor” and get to preside over a church. An unbiblical hierarchy is established and as a result, these “pastors” are treated differently. Unintentionally, but nevertheless automatically, they come across as being above the common folk (their brothers and sisters).  With a system that puts such a “man of God” is in charge, it’s easy to see why Sunday morning becomes the premier meeting and sadly often times the only meeting. It’s also easy to see why his gifts become the focus at the expense of those in the flock.

To counter this, let’s not swing the pendulum away from having these larger meetings or from championing those who teach or preach effectively to large audiences, as most church pastors do. In doing that we would not only be losing out on a valuable form of ministry, but also be in danger of not growing teachers and preachers for the next generation. Preaching or teaching to a large gathering is not a problem. Rather, wrong church governance is!

Rob Morley

Rank or Respect

These are my comments taken from LinkedIn XPastor Group in answer to “How much control should the Senior Pastor have? Other than God, should the pastor be answerable to anyone?”

Personally, I believe that single pastor and pastor/board leadership cannot be justified biblically and I’m afraid that the longer we persist with this paradigm the longer we maintain its limitations and its poor results. On the other hand, mutual submission across the entire body, with multiple eldership can clearly be seen in the New Testament. The word that was proclaimed and lived by was the authority. The idea that some elders had authority over others and even that some elders had more than others is easily, but mistakenly read into the passages because of our paradigm. We mustn’t confuse function or role for rank.

This was Jesus’ heart for His people: “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes {position} of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them {position}, and they that are great {position} exercise authority upon them {position}. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (servant); And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (slave).” – Matthew 20:25-27.

I believe that if we look carefully at Jesus’ words in Matthew 20:25-27, we see that He is not only saying that we mustn’t lord it over one another, but also that we are not to have authority over one another period. Paul’s words, “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves” – Phil 2:3b, best capture the attitude we are to have toward one another. Creating hierarchy automatically undermines this attitude.

In Romans 12:8 (and elsewhere) the word “leads” or “rules” is translated. This however, has some possibilities of meaning and also application. Often a hierarchical interpretation of “leads” or “rules” is how many read it because that’s the paradigm they’re used to. However, the word used for “leads” or “rules”(Gk. proistēmi) as used here can also mean – to be a protector or guardian; to give aid; to care for, give attention to.

If we had never experienced church governance that was top down then the word “leads” would be fine as it wouldn’t be misunderstood as ruling over. I believe the passage should read something like, “He who guides and protects let him do so with zeal.” The word “rules” could be fine too if “is an example” or “is a measuring standard” is understood. We cannot be sure of the translators’ intentions, whether they were caught in an unbiblical paradigm, or whether the meanings they afforded to “leads” or “rules” were without rank. I somehow doubt it’s the latter. What these words mean to us is what’s important. In the light of Jesus’ ban on His people ruling over one another, I believe we can only have one conclusion.

Also, some translations use the word “over” when “among” is more appropriate when speaking of leaders in Heb 13:17. Also, the word “Obey” here doesn’t imply unquestioned obedience, but rather “allow yourselves to be persuaded”. Submission is a requirement of everybody, summed up in, “submitting to one another”. A pleasant yielding attitude was what was encouraged, and in this case particularly toward the leaders among them, whose aim was to help them.

The word “leader” is used throughout the New Testament, but these people were servants of God and of those they served. They were without rank; however their character, lifestyle and the anointing of Jesus evidenced their calling and drew respect. Jesus and His word was everyone’s authority.

Leadership in the church does exist, but it is so utterly other than the world’s form that it’s called servanthood. Someone has said that “leadership is influence” and there is more than one way to influence someone in a direction other than using rank. For example, it’s God’s gentleness that leads us to repentance. We don’t need rank!

For more on leadership see https://realchurchlife.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/shepherds-of-the-flock/

Blessings, Rob

Shorter answer to “How much control should the Senior Pastor have? Other than God, should the pastor be answerable to anyone?” –

There shouldn’t be a Senior Pastor. No one should have any control through rank, but rather influence through respect. Everyone in the body is answerable to the word and one another. Like a prophet in the OT could only speak God’s word, but not enforce it, so too we can proclaim it, but we cannot enforce it. Nor can a leadership group. In fact consensus is the only way to govern in the church. Even disciplining someone is the whole church’s responsibility in the light of God’s word.

Elders who are without rank and among the flock, not over them, influence through respect. Any rank is the same spirit as the Papal system.

Rob

The Bible passages with the inserted {words} are from a very insightful presentation http://biblicalelders.com/presentation.htm (Note: not all views in the presentation are supported by Light and Life Bible Ministries).

Shepherds of the Flock

In one sense all elders are pastors, but not in every sense. The terms elder, bishop, overseer and shepherd are synonomous terms, and are synonomous with the term pastor. However, this is not always exactly true.  Context dictates a terms meaning.

Many in the church, because of their character, knowledge in the faith, life experience and ability to teach should be recognized as elders able to pastor or shepherd the flock (see 1 Tim 3:1-7). However, some of these elders are specially gifted as pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets and apostles (see Eph 4:11-12).  These specially gifted elders don’t outrank the other elders; they just offer richness in their specialized area of gifting for the benefit of the flock. Like players in a team have different roles and specialize because of their abilities, so too should the elders in a church.

Perhaps you are an evangelist, apostle, or prophet or maybe you are none of the above. Perhaps some of us are trying to attain to something that we aren’t and some of us aren’t what we could be. Freedom and blessing comes from finding out who we are and living that out. Note rank has no place in the body of Christ. We are to accomplish the role or function that we are called to, not achieve or receive any rank. Rank is of this world. (Anyway, we are all Sons of God. What more could one want!)

All elders pastor in a general sense, but not in the specific way that some do in the church.  Many a modern day “pastor” is clearly not one at all, and many a “lay” person is so much more pastoral and more likely one of many who are gifted to the church in this role. Some modern day “pastors” are not the specific gift to the church spoken of in Eph 4:11-12, but are rather one of many elders called to shepherd (see 1 Peter 5:11-12 and Acts 20:17,28).  These “pastors” may be more of a gift to the church as administrators, helpers, etc., while others may are more likely teachers, prophets or evangelists.

It seems that the term pastor or shepherd has a more specialized meaning and expectation in Eph. 4:11-12 than the broader idea for all elders to “shepherd the flock that is among you” as used in 1 Peter 5:1-2. I propose that in one sense all elders (barring perhaps those who are aged, but yet still babes in Christ) are shepherds, see Acts 14:23; 15:4,6; 20:17 and 1 Peter 5:1-2, but that not all of these shepherds (elders/pastors) are the specific gift of pastor that Ephesians 4:11-12 speaks about.

Are you an elder who pastors in the general sense it’s expected of elders, or are you an elder gifted with special pastoral gifting with a more specific role as a pastor? Like the term apostle has more than one meaning, perhaps so too does the term shepherd or pastor. In a sense all elders are shepherds or pastors (see Peter’s expectation of elders to be shepherding in 1 Peter 5:1-2) however, I propose that it’s from among these elders that some will clearly emerge and be seen to be gifted as the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers as mentioned in Eph 4:11-12. Pastors are specially gifted Elders/Bishops/Shepherds.

From this, we can see that the same train of thought can be used for the term teacher, that is, all elders should be able to teach, but not all elders are gifted as a teacher in the sense it’s used in Eph 4:11-12. So, while all elders should pastor and teach (1 Peter 5:1-2 and 1Timothy 3:1-7) and in a sense are therefore pastors and teachers, this does not make them gifted as the pastors or teachers seen in Eph 4:11-12.

There are different roles, focuses and levels of gifting (I speak of levels as gift ability and frequency of use and not hierarchy) for pastoring and teaching. Every elder needs to be competent to teach and uphold the basics of our faith and guide and assist those around them. Yet, not every elder has the gifting to teach or pastor as well as others among them who have been set apart as gifts to the church, clearly gifted in teaching and pastoring seen in Eph 4:11-12.

Like prophesying once or twice doesn’t make you a prophet, so too the ability to teach may help qualify you to be an elder who teaches, but not have the gift of teaching as expressed in Eph 4:11-12. Similarly, all can and should be involved in evangelism, but try as I may the simple message Billy Graham spoke will never have the effect through me as it did through him unless I’m specially gifted as an evangelist.

To find out who you are in the body of Christ, and live that to the full, will be the best way to bless God, yourself and those around you. Who we are to the body emerges as we allow the Spirit of God to work in and through us. When this happens, those around may recognize your role and gifting more easily than you do. A church environment that allows one another to grow in their gifts is a great help to experiencing the fullness of what God wants to do in and through one’s life individually and together through the body corporately.

By Rob Morley

Part 2 (Go here for part 1, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6)

In Part 1 I said that when hierarchical church leadership is removed many hindrances and limitations will fall away. This is because voice is given to the people through whom the Spirit wishes to speak. No single person has authority over another and nobody is able to veto anything, whether intentionally or not. Also, people are able to act more freely. Instead of the feared mayhem the opposite will be true. We will begin to see the Body act under the direction and leading of the Jesus alone, who not only is able to lead each individual, but also the group as a whole.

Many a pastor will be released from the burdens that they have unnecessarily carried when released from single pastor leadership or tiered leadership of any sort. The single pastor or tiered leadership model creates huge limitations in vision, insight and implementation. Often pastors carry the bulk of the work and responsibility that’s intended for many to share. If multiple elders in the body are seen as pastors, then the burden that one or a few carried will be greatly reduced.

If change is made to our church models and pastors are released from the undue weight that they carry, we might even see other gifts surface in some of their own lives. Previously hidden by the title of “pastor,” some might be better teachers, evangelists or maybe administrators.  If this begins to happen, then the role of pastor will be seen more clearly as distinct from the others.

Flawed systems, like those with hierarchy or even the single pastor model, come about unintentionally and somewhat innocently as they appear to be Biblical and useful ways of exercising control.  The truth is we cannot control people in the body of Christ. It’s not our job; it’s the Lord’s. Freedom to explore, learn and grow under the word of God with Jesus’ leading should be given to all.  It can get messy, but loving eldership rather than controlling leadership can help “get the clothes picked up.”

In part 3 I will discuss some obvious challenges of this model.

By Rob Morley

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