Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH

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Plural Pastors Pt. 2

Thursday, January 18, 2018
I just wanted to follow up on your reply to "Plural Pastors".  The verses you cited for having no single pastor as leader, but a plurality of elders in a local congregation, are a bit unclear to me.  In Titus 1:5, the verse states "and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you"; that doesn't necessarily mean more than one elder for every congregation.  It would be like saying "the governor appointed mayors in every city".  This phrase doesn't mean more than one mayor was appointed in every city.  Could you clarify?

Sincerely,
Baptist Believer

Dear Baptist Believer,

We are happy to clarify!  Tit 1:5 might leave the issue vague if that were the only verse on the topic, but we also have plenty of other places to see that every congregation had a plurality of elders.  Acts 14:23 says that they appointed elders in every church.  Acts 15:2-6 points out that the church in Jerusalem had multiple elders.  In Acts 20:17, Paul called for the elders of the church that met in Ephesus.  Jas 5:14 recommends that the sick call for the elders of the church to pray for them.  Also, Peter exhorts the elders of each congregation to tend the flock amongst them (1 Pet 5:1-3).  There is not a single example of a lone elder in the New Testament.  Every congregation was led by a multiplicity of pastors.

Plural Pastors

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
I belong to a local, independent Baptist congregation, and we go by the Bible in all matters of faith and practice.  My pastor of twenty years is going to retire next month (God bless him), and our church is bringing prospective replacement pastors to preach on Sunday.  At some point, we will be asked to vote on a new pastor after careful prayer and consideration.  My question is: is this a biblical method of church structure?  I can't seem to find anything in the New Testament that resembles what we are doing.  Please help.

Sincerely,
Baptist Believer

Dear Baptist Believer,

We applaud your desire to follow the Bible pattern in all things – this is exactly what God expects us to do (2 Tim 1:13).  The way a congregation organizes itself should always be based upon the standard and pattern found in the Bible… after all, the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth on this planet (1 Tim 3:15).  So, let’s look at the Bible pattern for church leadership.

The Bible makes a distinction between preachers and pastors.  In Eph 4:11, notice that evangelists are listed separately from pastors.  An evangelist, also known as a preacher, is any man that is preaching God’s Word.  Philip was an evangelist (Acts 21:8), and so was Timothy (2 Tim 4:5).  Preachers are given the task of preaching and teaching God’s Word.  They have no authority beyond the ability to appeal to the hearts and minds of those in the congregation by explaining the Scriptures to them (2 Tim 4:1-5).  A congregation can support and hire a preacher as long as he is a faithful man that preaches the truth (1 Cor 9:14, Lk 10:7).

The job of a pastor is entirely different from that of a preacher.  ‘Pastor’ is a term only used once in the New Testament (Eph 4:11).  ‘Pastor’ is another name for ‘elder’ because elders shepherd the flock (1 Pet 5:1-2).  Elders/pastors are in charge of guiding and leading the church.  They have authority to make decisions for the congregation, and they have the responsibility of watching over the souls of those in the local congregation (Heb 13:17).  The Bible never gives us an example of a pastor leading a congregation on his own.  Every faithful congregation functioned with multiple elders (Tit 1:5), and those elders had to meet strict requirements and standards because of the authority they wielded.  The qualifications for pastors can be found in Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7.  Pastors should be picked out from amongst the congregation (Acts 14:23) – they don’t need to be shipped in.

It seems like your congregation has the common misconception of using a single pastor to run and lead the church.  The Bible shows many examples of a congregation bringing in preachers to teach and share the good news, but pastors should always come from within a congregation; they must meet the Bible’s qualifications, and there should always be more than one of them.

Mission Plan

Friday, January 05, 2018
Hello.  Are there organizations that I could go on mission trips with even if I don't belong to a certain church?  I really feel like God is pulling me toward missions, and I would love to reach out to others and share God's love. Thanks much.

Sincerely,
Wanting to Reach Out

Dear Wanting To Reach Out,

The church is God’s organization for spreading the good news.  We applaud your zeal to spread God’s Word, so let’s see if we can give you some information that can help focus that zeal in the most effective way.  God tells us that zeal is only effective when combined with knowledge (Rom 10:1-2).  There is no such thing as a christian that isn’t a member of a congregation – even the apostle Paul was a member of the Antioch congregation (Acts 11:26).  The great evangelism efforts that Paul and Barnabas spearheaded all started from their work with the local church in the city of Antioch.  The church is God’s tool to protect and spread the good news of Christ (1 Tim 3:15).  In fact, we are warned against forsaking the assembly of the church (Heb 10:24-25).  Christians aren’t meant to function without the support of the church.  We would be happy to point you toward a congregation in your area that is faithful, evangelistic, and ready to use your zeal to spread the good news.  If we can help, just e-mail us at askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org.

Parental Paradox Pt. 2

Tuesday, December 26, 2017
To follow up on your response about calling men ‘father’ (the post entitled “Parental Paradox”), are you saying it is all right to refer to men as ‘father’ as long as you are not putting them above God?  Including, not only a biological parent but even a person of spiritual fatherhood?  Some folks in my Lutheran congregation refer to our pastor as ‘father’ or ‘reverend’ or even ‘brother’ but never revere him above God as you pointed out in your post.

Sincerely,
Taking Titles

Dear Taking Titles,

In order to understand why it is wrong for religious leaders to take the name of ‘father’, we need to put that statement in context.  Jesus said to not call anyone ‘father’ (Matt 23:9) at the same time as He condemned the scribes and Pharisees for loving the praise and honor of men (Matt 23:4-6).  When ‘father, ‘rabbi’, and ‘master’ are given as titles of prestige and honor, this is exactly what Jesus was condemning.  The titles you mentioned are often used in exactly the same manner – ‘reverend’ especially.  The word ‘reverend’ is never even found in the Bible.  The only one who deserves our reverence is God (Heb 12:28).  Anytime that religious leaders take on titles like these, it is a sign that they are seeking to distinguish themselves from other christians.  This is the exact opposite of what the apostles did (Acts 10:25-26).

Singular Sensation

Friday, December 22, 2017
Is there one true church? Jesus said, “Upon this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”  Notice He said ‘church’ not ‘churches’.    Also, the Bible says, “Narrow is the way to heaven, and few will find it, but wide is the way to destruction, and many will go there in.”

Sincerely,
Looking For The One And Only

Dear Looking For The One And Only,

There was only one church in the first century, and today there are well over 33,000 different denominations all professing to belong to Christ.  This is not only tragic, it’s wrong.  Christ died for one church, and He gave us one doctrine (Eph 4:4-6).  Christianity can only be preserved in the “unity of the Spirit” (Eph. 4:3).  This means that the only way we can have unity is to use the standard the Holy Spirit has given us – the Bible.

All the denominations have their own creed books, statements of faith, organizational structures, and opinions.  Christ’s church has none of those.  It has one book, the Bible, as its rule and standard for all behavior.  It is our guide for all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3).  It is the book that was handed down once and for all to the saints (Jude 3).  We cannot have faith without hearing this Word (Rom 10:17), and we cannot please God without obeying its commandments (Jhn 15:14).

The Catholics trust their Vatican leadership, the Protestants reform a broken system, and the community churches pledge loyalty to their communities and social programs.  The only solution to the religious confusion is a radical step… restoration of Bible-only principles.  Let us go back to the Bible for everything that we do, and if we cannot find Bible authority for something… we must refuse to practice it.  A church that finds its roadmap and structure in the Bible alone is the real solution to the division that exists in the religious world.  When the Bible speaks, let us speak – and when it is silent, let us be silent.  There are congregations that take this attitude and follow the one pattern for the church.  If you would like help finding one, feel free to e-mail us at askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org.

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