Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reason #8 - Professional Pastors Get Confused With Biblical Elders

Some disagreement exists within Christianity over whether or not elders and pastors had overlapping roles in scripture. Put simply, the question is whether or not elders and pastors were essentially the same.

That being said, there can be no doubt that the elders we read of in the New Testament are far different from today's professional pastors. When we look in the book of Acts and various epistles we see elders as godly men of the body who are simply recognized as being what they already are: those of Christian maturity who are helping others along that same path. However, modern pastors are largely paid experts from outside the body who are brought in to lead through decision making, lecturing, and program planning.

Despite these differences, many Christians believe that what we see today in the pulpit is what the bible speaks about. If you ask Christians to point out pastors in the New Testament, they will likely turn to passages dealing with elders (or possibly overseers). For example, when discussing qualifications, the passage that gets the most attention is I Timothy 3. However, that section of scripture talks about overseers, not pastors. In fact, the term pastor is rarely used in the New Testament.

I Peter chapter 5 does mention all three (elder, overseer, pastor), but even in that case the idea of pastoring has very little in common with what most professional pastors do today. To pastor is to shepherd. This has little to do with monologue sermonizing or planning the next Christmas program.

The church (at least here in the USA) is confused about what biblical elders are. Having professional pastors claim to be elders is a sham. The two are markedly different. To help clarify this situation, all professional pastors ought to resign today. If that occurred, the church might be forced to ask itself what elders actually are. Questions of that sort, while uncomfortable for many, sometimes lead to great improvements.

(This post is part eight of the series 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign).

No comments: