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Friday, October 26, 2012

Who Is Qualified To Oversee A Church?

Who is qualified?

1Timothy 3:1 Faithful is the saying, If a man seeks the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.
A "bishop" is defined by the scriptures as an "overseer", and is one who watches over the "called out ones".
The modern church has perverted the term "bishop" into a titled position in an ecclesiastical structure unknown in scripture. The apostles never ordained solo pastors or a priest over the churches. 
A "bishop" is not a pastor overseeing other pastors in a pyramid shaped organizational structure. He was an elder and most often supported himself as he ministered..

We will look at who and how God calls and qualifies with the responsibility of an overseer; that is, to watch over and tend the flock of God.  1Tim. 3:1-7

      1  Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.     (bishop means simply  "overseer" and is not a pastor over pastors)
2  The bishop therefore must be without reproachthe husband of one wifetemperate, sober-minded, orderlygiven to hospitalityapt to teach;
3   no brawlerno striker; but gentlenot contentiousno lover of money
4   one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjectionwith all gravity;
5   (but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
6   not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 
7   Moreover he must have good testimony from them that are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil

In Titus 1, he wrote a second time regarding elders:

 Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every cityas I had appointed thee: 
Here are the qualifications for those elders that are to be "overseers" of the churches:
      6)  if any man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children that believe, who are not accused of riot or unruly.
7) For the bishop must be blameless, as God`s stewardnot self-willednot soon angry, no brawler, no strikernot greedy of filthy lucre;
8)) but given to hospitality, as lover of goodsober-mindedjust,holyself-controlled;
9)  holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the opposers.

Did you notice the ordained "elders" in "every city" are called "bishop? 

1Peter 5
1)   The elders among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2)   *Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversightnot of constraint, but willinglyaccording to the will of Godnor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind (*tend means "feed")
3)   neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves examples to the flock.

Although this may upset a few people, the most often repeated qualification begins with the nouns "man" and "he", a total of 14 times. 11 in 1Timothy and 3 more in Titus.  

Masculine nouns are used repeatedly in multiple verses and is the first qualification specified and is referenced 14x times. The office itself "bishop", Greek "episkopos", is also a masculine noun. (Strongs 1985). 

 So when the Scriptures speak in terms of the office of an overseer and the elders that rule, it always does so with men. Even the word "pastor" (poimen in Greek), is a masculine noun, and there is no such thing as a wife being "co-pastor" or "pastor" over an assembly.

Having swallowed some "meat" from the Word, let us look at the points Paul gave in 1Timothy 3.
In our 24 years of church involvement and leadership, we never heard these taught or reviewed in regard to the people who were appointed or put in places of leadership.

This is a good example of how the church departs from scriptures as church leaders are usually those who demonstrate loyalty, financial support, natural gifts for speaking, or a willingness to support and volunteer.

We also see that among the scriptural elders that ministered, no one office such as the pastor, prophet, or apostle, is given pre-eminence above the rest.

Nor are Formal Titles are mentioned for those exercising oversight of the churches in these qualifications which apply equally to all ministries and the elders.

In 1Timothy 3

1.   without reproach:
      not open to censure, irreproachable. He is honest and his word and motive is good. He is not hiding any sin.  
2.   Husband of one wife
      He is a "husband" of one wife. He does not divorce and remarry another, unless the first wife committed adultery,  or she died.
3.   temperate; 
      sober, not given to alcoholic drinks and not a food glutton.

4.   sober-minded: 
      curbing one's desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate, prudent , sensible
5    orderly:  
      well arranged, seemly, modest. This speaks of his life not being disorderly or out of control.  
6.   given to hospitality:  
      He is hospitable and generous to guests. Their home is made comfortable to others and they are made to feel welcome.

7.   able to teach: 
      He is apt and skilled in teaching in order to benefit and spiritualy mature others in the Scriptures.
8.   not a brawler: 
      Not ready for a blow, not a pugnacious, contentious, or quarrelsome person. "Not" means not. Contentious means argumentative. He is peaceable.
9.   no striker: He does not hit others, nor his wife, nor his children. seemingly, suitable
equitable, fair, mild, gentle

10.  gentle:   
      He is reasonable, listens and considers the words of others. He is equitable, fair, mild, and gentle. He is not over-powering, a bully, overbearing, stubborn, or hard.   
11. not contentious:
       Right after "gentle" comes not contentious again.
That is posturing as not to be withstood, acting as invincible, and abstaining from fighting whether it be with WORDS or ACTIONS
12. not greedy of money
      He is free from the love of money, and not given to deals and scams.

13.  one that rules well his own house
      He manages over, superintends, presides over, provides for, and is a protector or guardian
14. children in subjection with all gravity
      His (not adult) children  are under control, obedient, in subjection, submissive.   With dignity: the characteristic of a thing or person which entitles to reverence and respect, dignity, majesty, sanctity,honour, purity.
15. not a novice:
      He is not newly planted, a new convert, or neophyte (one who has recently become a Christian. -No matter how gifted they are, sincere, or giving of financial support.

16. Lest he be puffed up
      An immature overseer will try to meet his ego needs through the church. he will imagine himself to be above others, he will think those who disagree are going over his head, he will feel threatened easily.  He will see himself as being something he is not and entitled to things by reason of his position or title.
17. having a good testimony from outsiders:
     His bills are paid, his word is known to be good, he has a good name and reputation for honesty. 

In Titus 1:
18. blameless:
      He cannot be called into account, unreproveable, unaccused, blameless. What if he sins? If he is walking in repentence and forgiveness, he is blameless.  Except from the devil.
19. husband of one wife:  
      He is once married unless widowed, and did not divorce for any cause other than adultery by his ex-wife.
20. children that believe and are not riotous
      His children believe in the Lord and are not those that cannot be subjected to control, disobedient, unruly. His children are not in rebellion.

21. not self-willed:
     He is not self-pleasing, self-willed, arrogant.
22. not quickly angry:
      He is not prone to anger, irascible, hot-headed, fiery, hot tempered. 
23. not given to wine
      He is not a drunkard, given to wine, or drunken.

24. no striker:
      Not ready for a blow, not a pugnacious, contentious, or quarrelsome person. "Not" means not. Contentious means argumentative. He is peacable.
25. not greedy of lucre: 
      He is free from the love of gain, desire for wealth and substance, eager for base gain, or greedy for money.   
26. given to hospitality:
      He is hospitable and generous to guests.

27.  as lover of good
      He is of a sound mind, sane, in one's senses,
curbing one's desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate
28. sober-minded: 
      He is safe (sound) in mind, that is, self controlled (moderate as to opinion or passion): - discreet, sober, temperate.
29.  just: 
      In a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God
of those who seem to themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves in their virtues, whether real or imagined
innocent, faultless, guiltless

30. holy: undefiled by sin, free from wickedness, religiously observing every moral obligation, pure holy, pious.
30.self-controlledstrong, robust, having power over, possessed of (a thing) mastering, controlling, curbing, restraining, controlling one's self, temperate. He can control his apetite.
31. holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching:  He cleaves hard to the Word, the sayings of God, not just in head knowledge, but in action. He speaks as an oracle of God.
32. able to exhort in the sound doctrine:  To refute, comfort, establish, correct, reprove, to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort

In 1Peter 5:1
"The elders among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder",  the elders are to:
33. tend the flockto feed, to tend a flock, to rule, govern, shepherd
of rulers (overseers)
to furnish pasture for food
to nourish
to cherish one's body, to serve the body
to supply the requisites for the soul's need
34. exercising the oversightto look upon, inspect, oversee, look after, take care of the church which rested upon the elders, to look carefully after, beware in regard to protect 
35. not by constraint:
      not to shepherd and tend by using compulsion or force of title or position. (carnal authority)
36. willingly
      of one's own accord, voluntarily. -not as a hireling, but as a volunteer.

37. according to the will of God
     As a man sent from God, according to and from the Will of God, not by men or a Bible College Certificate.
38. nor yet for filthy lucre
     To do so NOT for gain, i.e. money. How plain that is. No tithes or salary
39. of a ready mind
     eagerness, willingly. Ready to help, work, and of the faith, fully persuaded.

40. neither as lording it
      Not as to lord against, that is, control,subjugate: - exercise dominion over (lordship), be lord over, overcome.
41. ensamples to the flock
      an example to be imitated, of men worthy of imitation.

 In 1Tim 3, Paul also brings up deacon qualifications and likens them to those of the elders. 8 Deacons in like manner must be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not      greedy of filthy lucre; 9   holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.10  And let these also first be proved; then let them serve as deacons, if they be blameless.11  Women in like manner must be grave, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.12  Let deacons be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
13  For they that have served well as deacons gain to themselves a good standing, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

 Can you imagine the typical church reading these scriptures from the pulpit?
Deacons were not the titled, name tagged folks with offering plates in the original church. They were more typically the hosts of the people who met in their homes and they were servants to the church. 

Do you want to see a deacon's role model?  You have the church selecting seven of them in Acts 6, one of whom was Stephen.

"seven men of good report, full of the Spirit and of wisdom",
And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus a proselyte of Antioch;
And Stephen, full of grace and power, wrought great wonders and signs among the people.
Now there's some real deacons, full of FAITH and the Holy Ghost. No wonder the early church did not go to doctors.  

In Summary: we have given the direct instructions and meanings from the scriptures for those holding "positions" in the church. It is very convicting to realize how far our old churches had departed from God's Word on this. Do you realize a pastor is not above correction? Pastors were only one ministry among God's people, they were not singled out as the head of the church.

What is presented here should make it obvious that the church structure around us is hopelessly departed from the Word of God. It is as it was at the time of Christ when Jesus called His sheep out from the sheepfolds of the false shepherds.. 

Does this list sound like what any elders do that you know?
This is not a life of managing, giving orders, adjusting the thermostat, making announcements, governing, CEO'ing ... as many of our brothers practice today.
If we set aside the traditions we learned and look just at scripture, we can see an elder as a vigilant, self-sacrificing, humble, giving, working servant of the flock. He might be an apostle, he might be a prophet, he might be a teacher, he might be a pastor. He might just be an older seasoned  veteran in life and spiritual experience.
These older ones could recognize a wolf even when it looked like another shepherd. These older ones knew how to love, to care for and to feed God's sheep. It was not a job for the power-hungry or for those who like to manage others nor those who crave the pre-eminence.

The church at Ephesus Paul spoke to in Acts 20, was overseen by elders, not men ruling as "kings". Elders-bishops who were told to work and help the weak and needy.
 The pre-eminent pastors and Nicolaitanes Paul warned about would come later.
He called them "wolves", they would do the very things Paul and Jesus told them not to do.
Elders should serve not as a hired church official, but serve and protect the people. They should never plunder  for gain and building their own kingdoms called "ministries" seeking name recognition and the outward appearance of success..

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Elders are pastors?

Elders are pastors?

According to scripture, is the typical church to be a One Man Show? -or were "elders" to "pastor"?

  • Can one man really Pastor a congregation?
  • Did Paul start churches and move on putting them into the hands of one pastor, priest, or bishop?
  • Did any apostle establish a church board or turn a church over to a family to run it?
  • Were any of the church epistles sent to one man, i.e., to  Pastor XYZ?

After many churched years of functioning inside the system as an "elder", but not as an "Elder" , we see according to scripture, elders are  pastors.

Not a Pastor, or The Pastor, but simply as a shepherds, servants, and elders with the responsibility to serve, attend to, and feed God's people much as fathers who watch and care for a family.
 -Not as a sole authority ( .."lords"), but as one among others with various ministries, gifts, and callings in God's kingdom.
All of the so-called "five-fold" gifts of ministries are elders, but not all elders are "five-fold" ministers.

How did all this become evident?

For the past couple of years, I have been reading, studying, and re-reading the book of Acts, in order to learn and understand what form of church government was observed, and what was preached, taught, and ministered, and the manner in which the disciples carried out the commands of Jesus.

We saw how the Lord gave examples from Acts 20:28 in which Paul told the elders, the "overseers" (i.e. the bishops) of the church at Ephesus, to "take heed to yourselves, and all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost has made you (plural) overseers, to feed (other versions read "tend") the flock of God which he has purchased with His own blood".

Let's notice the Holy Ghost made them overseers, not via ordination certificate, voting them in as Pastor, Bible College or Seminary, a denominational franchise, or a home missions board.  (see How To Answer A Call From God)

Whoops!, there we just wiped out the organizational flow-chart, church hierarchy, and staff diagram with the Pastor at the top of the pyramid..
You mean the Holy Spirit calls people, qualifies them, and puts them in as overseers WITHOUT sending them to Bible School?

How in the name of the "Nicolaitane" clergy can that be?

When the Holy Spirit does so, He does not put ONE man in charge over the rest of the ministries like the Nicolaitanes do.  (If you  do not know what a Nicolaitane is, please refer to the articles on this site.  God knew when He put that term in the scripture and said He "hates" it.)

What about those apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors, and evangelists?
They were all there at the church at Ephesus and not a one was painted with a title, salaried, collected  tithes, or in charge of a building program. No robed "Bishop", pope, Superintendent, Board, or frocked cardinal was seen in the entire church. -Quite a contrast to the local church scene, isn't it?

So we have found ourselves as functioning elders and helpers of the faith for many, feeding others from the Word itself, tending and caring for them, encouraging them, and even doing the work of an evangelist as we sow the seed of God's Word in many places. We are untitled servants of the Lord, not building own kingdom nor looking with expectation of financial gain from those we minister to.
God will see to it that our needs are met as He always has done as He told us in His Word.

We also find ourselves in the company of many others who have left Institutionalized Christianity.

These other elders function in their giftings and ministries as teachers, prophets, etc., and there are even a few apostles found, but the real ones don't sport titles, take tithes, or promote themselves.

1 Peter 5:1-3 Young's Literal Translation (YLT)

 Elders who [are] among you, I exhort, who [am] a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of the Christ, and of the glory about to be revealed a partaker,feed the flock of God that [is] among you, overseeing not by force, but willingly, neither for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind,
3  neither as exercising lordship over (God's) heritages, but examples for the flock,

1Peter 5:1 (in the ASV)
The elders among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder (Peter), and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
 2 Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint (by controlling), but willingly, according to the will of God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
 3 neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock.

We are to feed, not force feed; tend to and not be served by; give to and not take from; serve willingly and not for the expectation of a hireling.
In order to understand this, we had to leave the Institutional Church System and the unscriptural hierarchies that support it. We had to learn from the Lord what it is to serve others without the props of programs and a leaders "vision", which was most often his own and not Gods'.

Maybe you should pray for God to assemble you with others according to His Will, and if you are walking in the "bond of love", seeking His righteousness in overcoming the world and sin, our prayer and desire is to help equip you to be a Holy Spirit sent minister and equipping others to do likewise.

We are not about owning a bigger church barn, taking ownership of people, or being a "lord" over God's heritage. (1Peter 5:4)

We are no-name, no-bodies, called of God to feed, tend, and care for others that God has allotted us. Some of us work hard to get other sheep out of the mouths (those captured by their words) of the wolves behind many a pulpit.
  Jesus is Chief Shepherd according to 1st Peter 5:4, and Psalm 23. "The Lord is my Shepherd (PASTOR) I shall not want".
If the Lord is your Shepherd, you will recognize His shepherdship in those untitled, unpaid servants He is raising up.

Pray for us elders that His love and tenderness will flow through us as we die to self and become vessels through which He manifests His Shepherdship.

Scripture Summary:   Elders are pastors:

Acts 14:23 (NLT) Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church

23 And when they had appointed for them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord (ASV)

Acts 15:2 ... Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
Acts 15:4 ... they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.
Acts 15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
Acts 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
Acts 15:23 ... The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.
Acts 16:4 ...they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Acts 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

"feed the flock of God over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers"  

1 Tim 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

Leadership in the Early Church
1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness
"elder":  presbeteros Strongs 4245
elder, of age,
 the elder of two people
 advanced in life, an elder, a senior
 a term of rank or office
 among the Jews
 members of the great council or Sanhedrin (because in early times the rulers of the people, judges, etc., were selected from elderly men)
 of those who in separate cities managed public affairs and administered justice
 among the Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or churches) The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably