Summary: Are we patterned on Rome, on America, or on the Bible in our church? Who is in charge?
If Paul were to visit other American congregations, he might be just as appalled at the male leadership as at the female. He would see that, in the main, congregations are built around one man. And with sorrow he would note that the size of the congregation is in direct proportion to the strength or weakness of that one man. He would realize quickly that the program of church planting that he began has been almost totally abandoned.
For, when Paul visited new territories in the first century, and preached the Gospel in power, souls were saved. Those souls assembled for edification immediately and constantly. After awhile,
at least long enough to see who in the fellowship was growing the fastest , Paul would lay hands on certain men whom he called "elders." Sometimes he had to move on before the process was complete, so he would leave a Timothy or a Titus (both apostolic men) behind long enough for them to ordain elders.
But wasn't Timothy the pastor at Ephesus? No. In fact, the words "the pastor" are never used in Scripture. Tracing Timothy's "career" through the book of Acts and the epistles of Paul is revealing:
16:1, meets Paul in Derbe
17:14, remains in Berea
18:5, joins Paul
19:22, goes back to Macedonia
20:4, joins Paul
I Corinthians 4:17, is sent to Corinth
Philippians 2:19, is sent to Philippi
I Thessalonians 3:2, is sent to Thessalonica
I Timothy 1:3, is sent to Ephesus
Hebrews 13:23, is arrested and set free
This hardly seems like the life of "the pastor" of a church, as we have it defined for us in modern terms.
It is assumed by Paul that the elders upon whom hands were laid by him or his co workers, these elders who are always mentioned in the plural, could do the work that needed to be done! After the original apostolic work is done in a church, you will not find any New Testament congregation governed by a "pastor" (singular), but always by" elders" (plural)
And look at this: Peter, though an apostle, calls himself an elder, and tells his fellow elders to "feed the flock." Now this is the job we normally assign to "the pastor." But it is the elders' job. Could elders and pastors be the same persons?
Did you know that "pastors" are only mentioned ONE TIME by this name in the New Testament, as a part of the ministry gifts given to the church? Since we know that pastors FEED, and ELDERS are told to FEED, yes, they could well be the same!
More! Paul, in his letter to Titus, equates elders with BISHOPS, too, and gives qualifications for them! Can you show me a place where a pastor's qualifications are given? That's right, that's what Scripture is saying, pastors bishops elders are ALL THE SAME, simply the spiritually mature men of the congregation passing on their faith to the younger.
I hear a collective groan..."If the church has a PLURALITY of leadership, who will be in charge?" Now, that is the question asked by those in Babylonian circles. Jesus even said that the Gentiles do things a certain way, but His people were going to be different. Just how do the Gentiles do it? One man is in charge, under him are his personal representatives, absolutely loyal to him or else, and then, under this hierarchy, "the people." That's how communism works. That's how Roman Catholicism works. That's how big business works. That's how the military works. Most Protestant churches work this way too. But Kingdom churches, Kingdom people, don't operate that way! No, the world's methods will produce the world. Flesh produces flesh. Jesus did not start a business or an empire. He began a fellowship.
But who makes the decisions? People who believe in the gifts of the Spirit, the unity of the Spirit, the essential one ness of the Body of Christ, know the answer to that one: The Holy Spirit makes the decisions.
And how? Through His gifts. Apostles, prophets, pastor teachers. Tongues and interpretation.
Words of wisdom and knowledge. Some will be gifted to lead a meeting. But leadership of a meeting must not be confused with leadership of the church.
The church has long assumed that "talented," "gifted" people are called to be "pastors." Not! They are simply called, like the rest of us, to exercise their gift!
Whenever the Body assembles and calls on the name of Jesus and believes God is leading, that which is necessary will be spoken and done.
Hence, let it be said of Christ's Church that Christ and not any man leads it. May a plurality of leaders be forced into leaning upon GOD for answers. May the lacking of a central figure in the church cause all to find their gifts!