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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

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