Sunday, August 2, 2015

Unavoidable: Home-Grown Elders

The modern pastorate is a thing foreign to the bible. The professional pastor (he who dominates the preaching, leading, and decision making) stems from man's traditions and not anything we find in scripture.

What do we read about in the bible? We see elders. Where do these elders come from? They come from within.

Below are some descriptions of elders in the New Testament:

Acts 14:21-23

"When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed."

Titus 1:5

"This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you."

James 5:14

"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord."

I Peter 5:1-3

"So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock."

Based upon the above passages, especially Acts and Titus, it is clear that elders come from within the body. This flies in the face of the modern pastor who is almost always an "expert" brought in from the outside in exchange for a salary; this is the exact opposite of what's been modeled to us by the apostles and the early church as a whole.

Who were these NT elders? They were simply mature Christian men who were already serving actively within their local bodies. Their character and behavior were recognized for what they were: mature in Christ. Their appointment was based upon what they were already doing. There is no sense that their behavior changed at all once they were appointed as elders.

Their behavior did not change because they were already a part of the church family.

Modern, professional pastors often struggle to feel as if they are actually a part of the church where they preach. Even after years of employment in one church, they feel like an outsider. This is because they are, in fact, an outsider.

The scriptural model is unavoidable: elders come from within. Many of today's church problems stem directly from the rejection of this paradigm by institutional churches.

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