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  • 11.21.2005

    Pastor's Log for November 2005

    About every three months, I print a tri-fold for the church called "Pastor's Log." (How original is that!) Our church just recently adopted bylaws, established membership, and is now in the process of selecting its leadership. Lord willing, we will have three elders, two deacons, one minister of finance, and one minister of records, and a partridge in a pear tree...

    I have spent the last several months preaching through 1 Timothy (see sidebar) hoping to lay the groundwork for our future ministry according to Scriptural principles. We are always open to innovation, good ideas, and fresh perspective; however, I want to be rooted in Scripture rather than current fads or hard-headed tradition for our philosophy of ministry.

    I have recently been convinced of the plurality of elders that should lead a local assembly. I believe it is Scriptural and carries with it many benefits.

    Anyway I thought I'd post a short 2 paneled section of the Pastor's Log.

    What Are Elders and Deacons?

    Elders Lead the Church:

    Acts 20:17, 28 show the three words for the same office: Elder, Bishop, and Pastor

    From Miletus he [Paul] sent to Ephesus and called for the 1 elders of the church... Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you 2 overseers (bishops), to 3 shepherd (pastor) the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

    The rest of the New Testament continues to use these words to describe the spiritual leaders of a local congregation.

    Elder: This word speaks of spiritual authority rooted in spiritual maturity. He is an example of a believer in the assembly.

    Bishop (Overseer): This title reflects the responsibility of overseeing the church. A bishop cares for souls and sets the direction of the church while providing spiritual protection.

    Pastor: A pastor is a shepherd who feeds the flock and tends to the health of the congregation. It is a noun form of the verb “to shepherd” or “to feed.” Pastor’s teach.

    Notice how the apostle Peter uses the same three terms describing one office in 1 Peter 5:1-4.

    The 1 elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as 3 overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

    Notice that elders are in the plural. Philippians 1:1 also follows a plurality of elders. Here Paul uses the word bishop.

    Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

    Paul refers to bishops and deacons as plural. There was more than one elder/bishop/pastor at Philippi--as well as more than one deacon.

    Deacons Support the Church:

    The idea of serving makes up the word deacon. Deacons serve the church by supporting the elders in the “physicality” of the ministry. Acts 6:1-7 lays the groundwork for this office. Deacons were to execute the church’s ministry to the needy. Deacons were just as godly as elders; however, the qualifications for elders require that elders must be “able to teach.”

    14 Comments:

    At 3:40 PM, Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

    Who in the Church today has the authority to appoint elders?

    God Bless

     
    At 3:47 PM, Blogger John Rush said...

    Timothy was told to appoint elders in every city... He was an evangelist...a missionary.

    I believe that where a local church is assembling ,the local church has the right to select their elders...pastors.

    If God calls or leads a man, the church recognizes him.

    Whadayathink?

    JRush

     
    At 3:36 AM, Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

    I do not think that anyone has the authority to appoint elders today. In the New Testament, elders were appointed either by apostles or by individuals such as Titus and possibly Timothy, who received the authority to appoint elders. There is nothing to indicate that being an evanglist confers any authority to ordain elders.

    That we have no true elders today is a reflection of the ruined and apostate condition of the Church. It is not a good idea to make light of this state and to pretend we have power to appoint people to office in the Church. Authority is a serious thing. We should not presume to it where it is not given.

    Every Blessing in Christ

     
    At 7:55 AM, Blogger Jeremy Weaver said...

    I'm with you John.

     
    At 9:31 AM, Blogger John Rush said...

    Dyspraxic,

    Are you saying then that we have no authority to ordain anyone to the ministry? No pastors? Elders are Pastors...

    Pastors are Bishops, Bishops are Elders...

    Are we to have no leadership? Is the Church held hostage to an idea of "broken succession?"


    Pleased that you read Anvil and Fire,
    JRush

     
    At 10:27 AM, Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

    Yes. The Church is in a state of irrepairable ruin, which is part of God's judgment on its apostasy. To presume to restore the eldership of the Church would be like Ezra or Nehemiah re-building the Ark of Covenant. God placed elders in the Churches and only He could restore them.

    God Bless

     
    At 9:07 PM, Blogger J. Wendell said...

    John,
    I love your postI just concluded a study on the two offices of the local church with my ABF class (soon to be a post). I finished with a bit of ongoing controversy between my pastor and myself. I argue for one pattern of church authority. He argues for another. His includes a mild form of Elder Rule, but mine does not. Of course I am right, ;-) but, if the church, which happens to have authority, goes along with his model, I will not jump ship. This is not a fundamental of the faith. I am open to the discussion.

     
    At 10:38 AM, Blogger John Rush said...

    John,

    I do agree that there is latitude in how church government in instituted. I do believe in the autonomy of the local assembly and the pattern of elders/deacons in plurality.

    Is your belief of church government a strong eldership vs. mild. Or do you believe otherwise...

     
    At 10:05 PM, Blogger J. Wendell said...

    John~
    I am not as graphically inclined as Rose...I can't even draw stick figures on the computer. I'll try to explain my position;

    Christ is the Head of the local church He is the true controller. He ordains,and calls bishops/elders/pastors (as you have pointed up these are aspects of the same office, I will hence reference the pastor as one and the same) to oversee the local church and deacons.

    The pastor is not the hired man or men of the church subject to all the whims of the members, he is God's man and to be held in high esteem (1Tim.5:17; 1Thess.5:12,13). He is not to be rebuked (1Tim. 5:1) unless he is walking in sin (cf. v.20). His authority rests in the power of a godly example, as well as in the fact he holds a biblical office (1Pet. 5:3; Eph. 4:11,12). However he is NOT to be autocratic, dictatorial, nor domineering, no one exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit should be. The pastor is NOT an overlord (1Pet. 5:1-4).

    Deacons are officers too. You are familiar with their qualifications found in 1Timothy 3 following those of the pastor. The decennia are to be servants of the church and assistants, and counselors to the Pastor/s. The end. Deacon "boards" which conceive themselves as a board of directors in charge of the "corporation, and think that under their direction the pastor, and the church must move in complete obedience are no longer decennia (servants) they are overlords. This unbiblical pattern flies in the face of Jesus who came not to be served, but to serve!

    Neither the pastor nor the deacons can rule the church. The church as an organization and an organism makes the final vote. The principal the church having the final authority seems clear to me from Matt. 18: 17 (also cf. Acts 15).

    The so called "elder rule" is not, in my view, the best model; This is why... it elevates deacons to a higher status than is biblically allowed (i.e. in my view). Make no mistake, this is the risk! A deacon is now "called" an elder, now he feels he has a basis for imagined authority. God has not ordained this pattern (in my view).

    The authority structure is Christ (the outcome controller), the two offices (the shapers of plans and ideas) and the church (the finalizing plans, goals and ideas) ALL in submission to Christ the Head of the body called the church.

    My pastor sees a mild form of elder rule in that he feels the authority structure is Christ (the outcome controller), the elder board, finalizing plans, goals and ideas. Deacons and the church, shapers of plans and ideas. ALL in submission to Christ the Head of the body called the church.

    Another model which neither of us like is: Christ, the outcome controller. Deacons finalizing plans, goals and ideas. Pastor/s and the church, shapers of plans and ideas. ALL in submission to the deacon board and Christ, the Head of the body called the church.

    Whadayathink? ;)

    brother John

     
    At 8:41 AM, Blogger J. Wendell said...

    Hi Pastor John,
    I have been having quite a time in discussing the pastorate on a post about "Saved regenerate membership", and I am working on my next post on the "Two offices" of the local church. Since I value your opinion (because of your biblical depth and knowledge of the Word) I am hoping you will consider a responing to my question here in this older post. :-)

    thanks John,
    brother JOhn

     
    At 9:32 AM, Blogger John Rush said...

    J. Wendell,

    I believe there is latitude in the Scriptures for how church government is organized--along general biblical principles.

    On elders and deacons:

    I like to use Bible terms because they have meaning--otherwise they are useless.

    In my Pastor's Log, I have in a short way listed why I believe in a plurality of elders. Elders are indeed pastors. They are indeed overseers. They are indeed elders. The congregation must be taught the qualifications for and roles of elder/pastor/bishop.

    Elders and deacons are two distinct offices. Hence, elders are not deacons in wolves' clothing :) They may be deacons in wolves' clothing but not elders :)

    If we have wolves in leadership, at that point, it does not really matter what they are called. They should soon be called "REMOVED."

    Men who promote a dictatorial methodology are troublesome in any arrangement of church government. They should be removed from their position because they are not putting the welfare of the congregation above their personal need for power, prestige, and (most of all) control.

    I have found the best men suited for leadership are the ones who do not need or demand the office. They are whole in and of themselves: with or without a title.

    A godly desire to serve is another thing altogether and is, indeed, necessary for a man to be an elder. Men like this will usually be serving long before they are placed in an official role of leadership. In fact, that is how we are to find those for official positions.

    In our church, the elders will listen to the deacons, but the deacons will not be a part of final decisions. They are here to serve at the direction of the elders.

    I do agree that the leadership appears to be approved by the congregation in the New Testament. We are not going the route of absolute elder rule. Our church will be elder led. The congregation will not vote on everything, but we will present major decisions to them. If leaders care for the people, they will communicate with the people.

    Putting men in leadership is a risky thing--no matter the "structure" or "flow chart." The qualifications must be kept in front of the people. And the people must take them seriously. This atmosphere must be cultivated in the pulpit.

    This week, we will interview the men recommended for positions in our church. We will go over the qualifications with them before they are presented to the church for a final vote. Those who are willing and qualified will be presented. Those who do not feel ready at this time or who are unqualified will not be presented. This is why I find myself in earnest prayer. It is a crucial time for us. I will not be doing this interviewing alone, either. All things must be done with the welfare of the church in mind. One man must not be ram-rodding the process.

    I would never recommend that nominees be put on a ballot without having them interviewed as to their qualifications. This should be done in the context of a church who is also praying through and meditating on the spiritual qualifications.

    The issue is leadership. Some pastors confuse that with "control." It is a difficult and nebulous thing to describe, but leadership must involve putting the cause of Christ first, a willingness to lose one's position, and laying out a clear, Biblical path for people to see.

    If the congregation sees that the pastor, elder, bishop is first and foremost concerned with the cause of Christ and the truth of Scripture... If they know the leader loves them and communicates with them (keeping people in the know and repeating himself at the risk of boredom so know one is thrown off by surprise...), most people will follow.

    Some say everything rises and falls on leadership. I am currently revising that statement to say, "Everything rises and falls on leadership and followership." Leadership and Followership for the Cause of Christ can also be called "UNITY."

    Christlikeness and spirituallity connected to Bible terms and guidelines are more important than flow charts.

    Whadaythink?

    JRush

     
    At 9:36 AM, Blogger John Rush said...

    Forgive my use of the word "know" for the word "no."

    I was letting my fingers do the typing.

    Brilliant.

    JRush

     
    At 6:08 PM, Blogger J. Wendell said...

    Hi John,
    You did it again! you ask a question at the end, I'll get back to ya.

    Thanks for your time.

    brother John

     
    At 7:00 AM, Blogger J. Wendell said...

    Hi John,
    I like your explanations.

    I think I agree with you (and my pastor) more and more. While I still reject the notion of complete elder rule in respect to finalizing decisions on leadership. I still maintain that this is the responsibility of the church. Yet..

    You seem to be saying that… the church in harmony with the leading of the Holy Spirit votes on the selection of B/E/P to affirm God's placement of a leader or leaders. B/E/P then LEAD the church with the deacons as servants to/of the church and B/E/P.

    The elders will listen to the deacons, but the deacons will not be a part of final decisions. They are here to serve at the direction of the elders.

    The church is informed of major decisions and act accordingly and in harmony with God who is the true Overseer.

    I think I am closer to this model, and will have to revise my "flow chart" from...

    The authority structure is Christ (the outcome controller), the two offices (the shapers of plans and ideas) and the church (the finalizing plans, goals and ideas) ALL in submission to Christ the Head of the body called the church.

    to…

    The authority structure is Christ (the outcome controller), the B/E/P (finalizing plans, goals and ideas) the deacons (help to shape plans and ideas) and the church involved and informed (submit to the plans and ideas if all is done biblically) ALL in submission to Christ the Head of the body called the church.

    Whadayathink?

     

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