Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pastoral Shift

"There is now in process a major shift in many churches of the Western world--a shift from clergy-centered ministry to a ministry of laymen equipped for service. This change in the Western world is gradually taking place all around us. Christian leaders are lovingly but firmly leading the Church out of the misconceptions and mistakes of the past to the proper scriptural pattern intended by God. The goal of many individual churches is to transform a congregation of spectators being led by a minister into an army of ministers being led by a pastor."

Bill Hull, Jesus Christ Disciple Maker, (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1993), 154.

3 comments:

EggsnGrits said...

This has virtually always been our approach. We do not ordain our ministers. They are not pastors. They preach and teach and lead in their own way by example. However, the primary leadership is by laymen appointed as elders.
Pastors/elders/bishops/presbyters/overseers (all congruent to us)serve as church leaders in a voluntary status. Generally, each congregation has five to ten men appointed to serve in this capacity.
Titus 1:5-9
1 Peter 5:1-5
1 Timothy 5:17-19
1 Timothy 3

Deacons are assigned tasks and responsibilities by the elders, overseers or shepherds, which are our preferred terms.
Eph 4:11-13 (Elders are to prepare others for service)
1 Tim 3

We have no central governing body leading us. Each church leads itself. We have a minimum of ministers, and we don't have a hierarchy of any kind.

It's the way that Paul managed the early churches. He didn't make them report day-to-day to him or anyone else. They had local leadership and that was enough.

Again, this is one of those issues that isn't said one way or another in the Bible. There is no prohibition against central leadership, In fact, Paul checked in on people from time to time with a eye toward correction and direction. However, he specifically designed the local leadership component and set forth specific guidelines for those men (and they are MEN). He didn't give guidelines for other leaders that lead regions or groups of congregations.

Anyway, we expect all people to take part in the church work. The book of James says that faith without works is dead. We expect all to lead in some way in their own sphere. It doesn't mean that everyone is carry a heavy load, but everyone is expected to do SOMETHING.

Andy Rupert said...

Eggs,

Other than what you've said here, I'm not familiar with your church's polity. But I think that we would be agreed that elders are God's appointed means for leading his church.

But whatever the case may be, leading a congregation of people toward Christlikeness is a difficult task. But I am confident that it can be done as we seek his face about it.

There are so many needs and only so much time. I'm beginning to understand Jesus' statement: "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into the harvest."

EggsnGrits said...

Yes.