Pastors As Teachers

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James K's picture
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One observation stands out:

One observation stands out: never in the New Testament does one find pastors making decisions in behalf of congregations or enforcing decisions upon congregations without their consent. Indeed, Peter explicitly forbids elders from leading by fiat (1 Pet. 5:3). Whatever pastoral leadership means, it does not involve pastoral authority to force churches to act against their will.

Apparently Kevin knows two options: emasculated pastor or dictatorship that Kim Jong-Un would envy.  I am curious, does anyone on here actually believe this series is accurate?  I have seen those who don't agree with me question it as well.  I haven't really seen hearty support.

 

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Pastoral leadership model

James K wrote:

Apparently Kevin knows two options: emasculated pastor or dictatorship that Kim Jong-Un would envy.  I am curious, does anyone on here actually believe this series is accurate?  I have seen those who don't agree with me question it as well.  I haven't really seen hearty support.

Well, I've seen a bit of stone-throwing from those who have expressed opposition to this series, but not much in the way a competing position with support.

In what way do you believe pastors/elders exercise their leadership?  (And to be clear, I'm asking for details, not something like "between emasculated and communist dictatorship.")  Let's say the pastor in what you see as an ideal church believes there needs to be a change to the doctrinal statement in the constitution.  Does he just announce it and then it will show up in the document?  Or what about changing the way services are done?  Again, is this just told to the congregation and then they do it?  Does the "whole church" have input into anything in your model?  If you are not talking about a dictatorship (or maybe an oligarchy with multiple elders), I'm really interested to know the way you believe pastoral authority functions, if what Kevin is describing comes across to you as "emasculated."

Dave Barnhart

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Dave,

Dave,

While James and I are not exactly on the same page, we have generally been making the same kinds of observations regarding this series. I think you ask some good questions. I start with the principle level, looking at the language employed in scripture. The title of the pastor, in particular bishop, mean something. As well, the commands given to the pastor and to the congregation, such as rule and obey, mean something. In general, I always approached my relationship to my pastor from the vantage that if he expressed a desire in his pastoral role, I followed his lead unless I had a biblical reason not to. On your specific question, I don't think the pastor, or elders if you have multiple leaders, can make changes to the doctrinal statement. I think James would disagree with me here, but he can speak for himself. However, I would see order of service as something within the purview of the pastor. Now, that doesn't ignore the fact that there are wise and foolish ways to in which to lead. Teaching and opening the topic for discussion prior to change is wise, but does not change the ultimate authority of the pastor in the matter. This was actually something I dealt with during my pastoral tenure. When I suggested we alter one Sunday night a month for fellowship, we discussed this as a congregation. It was my desire, but not something I felt strongly about. When I altered the Sunday evening service to include a short lesson for the kids, I introduced and explained it but did not discuss it because I felt more strongly about it. When I made some major changes to the morning order of service, I spent several week preaching on worship first and then tied the changes directly to the lessons we were doing to provide biblical reasoning for the changes, but again, we didn't have a formal vote like we did when we changed the doctrinal statement.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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Observations ... large groups (congregations) cannot lead

Observations ... large groups (congregations) cannot lead.

  • The can choose (A, B, or C)
  • They can affirm or deny (Yes or No)
  • They can vote with their feet (to be there or not)

But they cannot lead

(I would suggest that even a small group - say a committee of 5 - cannot lead)

At some juncture someone needs to step up and set direction. If a church has a weak pastor, it will be a strong deacon.

True leaders know how to communicate and how to quietly win allies

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Jim

You wrote:

At some juncture someone needs to step up and set direction. If a church has a weak pastor, it will be a strong deacon.

True leaders know how to communicate and how to quietly win allies

Very good point. It is this balance that needs to be struck. Well said. 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

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Analogy: hike

Consider a group going for a hike. They maybe haven't hiked the route they're going to take, and maybe they have some members who have little hiking experience. 

So they hire a guide. He helps them prepare, pack, choose their route, etc. Then they hike. He watches for the group, helps the stragglers, warns against coming dangers, etc. 

In his "leading," is he a dictator? No. Because he teaches and explains why X should be packed and not Y. He helps the members learn to hike. 

But some more experienced hikers in his group might have different opinions about how to do some things. Whether to pack something, whether to take a "shortcut," etc. Sometimes the "dictator" comes out. In he end he just says, "I'm the leader and we're sticking together as a group. We're not doing that shortcut." I'm sure that Dr. Bauder's view of leadership occasionally includes such a thing.

What, I think, he wants to emphasize is that the group actually learns to hike and they really do actually hike. They take the path. He shows them, but they choose to follow, and he has only really led when they go with him and take the hike. In that sense, nothing can be done without their understanding (some more than others) and consent. 

There may be a lot of questions that the group sits down and discusses. How for do we want to hike each day? Do we want a more scenic route? Or a route with less altitude changes? Do we want this guy for our leader? Such things the group can vote on without leading. And the group will be led, even in voting. 

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Day to day

My first ministry was in a large church where I was an assistant. We had 3 secretaries. Also the school office was full of administrators and secretaries. 

In stark contrast my 2nd ministry:

  • I was the pastor (30 years ago if there was only 1 pastor, one wouldn't call himself the Sr. Pastor because there was no Junior Pastor). No secretary.
  • I printed and copied the church bulletin and did all correspondence (using a TRS-80 with a 5Meg hard drive and a daisy wheel printer (if anyone knows what these even are!) (the 5 meg drive was in a separate enclosure that was about 18' wide ... 7" tall ... 24" deep)
  • Eye openers for me:
    • I couldn't believe how much mail the church received: catalogs, promotional materials for schools & conferences, et cetera. Seemed like a large basket every day. A week's worth of mail would be the size of a large laundry basket.
    • Walk-ins: most asking for money. At least one a week (for money). Other lonely people just wanting to talk to someone
    • Phone calls: missionary candidates, et cetera
    • If I didn't start the day early I barely had time to study
    • Daily decisions: throw out most mail. What to preach. How to organize time. 
    • I would do the bulletin on Saturday morning. And photocopy 100. Because I hate folding .. I would leave in church office and somebody would fold on Sunday am. 
  • Decisions I felt comfortable making myself:
    • What I would preach (AM, PM, Wed, Saturday AM Bible study (I would normally ask the guys what they wanted to study next). For Sunday school, I would follow the regulary quarterly system our church was using. This was the easiest prep of the week
    • The order of worship. I really didn't make any changes. Just picked the hymns. We had a rotation of men who lead in prayer
    • I didn't try to change the constitution (which was a jumbled mess .. . but they muddled through with it) or the doctrinal statement
    • I didn't spend any $$ without authorization from the deacons. I remember once asking for $ 25 to buy some diskettes
    • I made all decisions about how I spent my day and where I traveled (visitation). I had an expense account of sorts and I kept track of my mileage for reimbursement. If I was going to be gone all day (say to a Pastor's conference), I would inform the leadership 
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One big decision I made: KJV ----> NKJV (1983)
  • During the candidating process (multiple interviews with leadership), I thought I was clear about my intent to use the NKJV (I had been using it in SS at the previous church for 3 years). But after arriving they had forgotten that conversation.
  • I preached from the KJV (their standard). Along the way I again brought up the direction I wished to go
  • The leadership agreed with my proposal that: each would buy a NKJV, each would use for a year (might have been 6 months), and that we would decide after that time. They did and on the 1st Sunday of January 1984 I began to use the NKJV from the pulpit. Along the way, before that date, we informed the church of the process and the decision. There was no congregational vote
Chip Van Emmerik's picture
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Curious Jim, since you said

Curious Jim, since you said you were the only pastor, who are you describing as "leadership" in your posts?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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@Chip

I consider Deacons leaders

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I concur

I don't mind a little sloppiness in my terminology.

Jim wrote:

I consider Deacons leaders

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

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dcbii wrote:

dcbii wrote:

 

James K wrote:

 

Apparently Kevin knows two options: emasculated pastor or dictatorship that Kim Jong-Un would envy.  I am curious, does anyone on here actually believe this series is accurate?  I have seen those who don't agree with me question it as well.  I haven't really seen hearty support.

 

 

Well, I've seen a bit of stone-throwing from those who have expressed opposition to this series, but not much in the way a competing position with support.

In what way do you believe pastors/elders exercise their leadership?  (And to be clear, I'm asking for details, not something like "between emasculated and communist dictatorship.")  Let's say the pastor in what you see as an ideal church believes there needs to be a change to the doctrinal statement in the constitution.  Does he just announce it and then it will show up in the document?  Or what about changing the way services are done?  Again, is this just told to the congregation and then they do it?  Does the "whole church" have input into anything in your model?  If you are not talking about a dictatorship (or maybe an oligarchy with multiple elders), I'm really interested to know the way you believe pastoral authority functions, if what Kevin is describing comes across to you as "emasculated."

Dave, can we both agree that something can be pointed out as false without also giving the correct response?  Kevin has offered sloppy exegetical work for the authority of the congregation in decision making and used a cleaver to chop off pastoral authority.

He has regularly referred to the extremes of Brethren holding baptists in contempt and dictatorships.  I am sure poisoning the well is approved in some research positions, but to those who read the NT and believe it is sufficient to communicate truth, we will reject his man made systems.  Does it benefit a seminary hurting for dollars to have weak pastors?  Probably, but I wouldn't go so far to think that is what is driving this series.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Jim wrote:

Jim wrote:

I consider Deacons leaders

Based on...?

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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De Facto\De Jure

I would say it's a matter of they are de facto leaders rather than de jure.  Many Baptists treat their deacons in many respects in the same manner as the Presbyterians treat their ruling elders.

James K wrote:

Jim wrote:

 

I consider Deacons leaders

 

 

Based on...?

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

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Rob Fall wrote:

Rob Fall wrote:

I would say it's a matter of they are de facto leaders rather than de jure.  Many Baptists treat their deacons in many respects in the same manner as the Presbyterians treat their ruling elders.

 

James K wrote:

 

Jim wrote:

 

I consider Deacons leaders

 

 

Based on...?

 

 

This is true Rob, but is it right? Baptists first abandoned, in general, the model of multiple elders. Then we elevated the deacon to the unbiblical role of leadership to replace the loss of elder. Now we find ourselves arguing for pastors with no authority while we hand authority over to the deacons. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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Now we find ourselves arguing

Now we find ourselves arguing for pastors with no authority . . .

Chip, If you've done this before, I've missed it, but can you briefly sketch the extent of your idea of elder authority and provide a couple of examples?

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Stirring the pot...

James K wrote:

Dave, can we both agree that something can be pointed out as false without also giving the correct response?

Of course we can agree on that.  There's a place for such things just as there is a place on campaign signs for things like "I'm pro-life" or "Down with ObamaCare," because there is no room for a big explanation, and with some ideas none is necessary.  However, when it gets down to using those declarations to do something useful (like passing laws protecting the unborn), there has to be much more explanation, defense of the position, etc.

Since we are on a discussion site, I would say such pronouncements are "interesting" in order to throw a stone at the hornet's nest and start a discussion, but when no further explanation is coming, I personally think such statements are less than useful -- a bunch gets stirred up, but we don't get any lasting results.  And when it happens too often, the end result is that people will start ignoring the source of such pronouncements, even if they would otherwise have something interesting to say.

In this discussion, I think it would benefit the readers for those who think this series is way off base to show why that is true.  Otherwise, what we are mostly going to get is "move along, there's nothing to see here" from many readers who have seen this type of thing before.

The reason I asked the questions I did is not to try to trap you, but to understand.  If a pastor is not, according to you, supposed to act as a dictator on one hand, but if he doesn't command instant obedience on the other he is then emasculated, I'm not sure what that leaves.  Hence, my example questions.  I had more, but those were just a start.  I think the bible is clear that church members "obey those that have the rule over them," but that is only half the equation.  That statement by itself says nothing about what the sphere of the pastor's authority is that members are required to obey.  If it's everything, then you *do* have a dictatorship, and if it's nothing, then obedience means nothing either.  That means defining that sphere of authority is very important.  That's what my questions were trying to flesh out.  And of course, you also then need to define the authority of the "whole church," since that clearly means something in scripture as well.  With a dictatorship, the whole church is then relegated to an unbiblical position, just as you claim is happening to pastors in this series.

Dave Barnhart

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Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

 

Rob Fall wrote:

 

I would say it's a matter of they are de facto leaders rather than de jure.  Many Baptists treat their deacons in many respects in the same manner as the Presbyterians treat their ruling elders.

 

James K wrote:

 

Jim wrote:

 

I consider Deacons leaders

 

 

Based on...?

 

 

 

This is true Rob, but is it right? Baptists first abandoned, in general, the model of multiple elders. Then we elevated the deacon to the unbiblical role of leadership to replace the loss of elder. Now we find ourselves arguing for pastors with no authority while we hand authority over to the deacons. 

 

BINGO!

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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DavidO wrote:

DavidO wrote:

Now we find ourselves arguing for pastors with no authority . . .

Chip, If you've done this before, I've missed it, but can you briefly sketch the extent of your idea of elder authority and provide a couple of examples?

David,

I'm sure you dont' expect me to produce a tome on this, so I will try to briefly explain where I am at.

I start with some principles. Command and leadership language is used throughout the NT for the elder, from one of the very titles he is given in Bishop to words like rule, obey, and others that speak to both sides of the equation (the leader and those he leads). None of this language is ever used of the deacon. He is a servant without any authority beyond what is delegated with any task he asked to perform. The deacon is always under the leadership of the elder, never set up as the buffer to keep the pastor in check and protect the congregation

I avoid dictatorship in two ways. One is having multiple elders. The other is congregational rule. In this second area, I think JamesK and I would part ways. Because the congregation always has the authority to remove the pastor, this is the biblical check and balance and the real seat of authority. This congregational authority is vested in the pastor at the time of his calling and can be revoked as necessary.

With this groundwork in place, the actual fleshing out of leadership can vary some from church to church. The bishop is the administrator of the daily business of the church. Practically, I think the congregation should be involved in financial decisions that will be an obligation to the body and in church discipline. I can't think of anything else off the top of my head where I think the pastor needs approval from the congregation. That doesn't preclude him from opening discussion about other matters, seeking advice or even calling for a vote. Often that is the wisest way to maintain unity and fervency. I just don't think it's necessary.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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No tomes necessary

Hi Chip,

Thanks.  Succinct and helpful.  And largely correct in my opinion.

I suspect any devils of disagreement would lurk in the the details of how the below was applied, but that would probably up to local congregational decision (or not depending on what a given pastor thought was appropriate to ask.  Or did you mean "he is asked"?).

He is a servant without any authority beyond what is delegated with any task he asked to perform.

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Oops - left out the "is, but

Oops - left out the "is, but you got the gist. The point is the deacon is given whatever authority is necessary to complete the tasks he is asked by the pastor to perform. That authority is not inherent to the deacon but is delegated from the pastor to the deacon along with the activity. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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Authority in the church

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Practically, I think the congregation should be involved in financial decisions that will be an obligation to the body and in church discipline. I can't think of anything else off the top of my head where I think the pastor needs approval from the congregation. That doesn't preclude him from opening discussion about other matters, seeking advice or even calling for a vote. Often that is the wisest way to maintain unity and fervency. I just don't think it's necessary.


First, I should say I largely agree with what you wrote. However, from my point of view, I don't think this section is complete. You said above you don't think the pastor should unilaterally change the doctrinal statement in the constitution, but you don't mention that or anything about the constitution in this section where you delineate what powers the congregation should have (unless you meant to include that in financial/disciplinary decision-making powers).

Since the constitution lays out the rights and responsibilities of all the parties in the church in addition to what the core beliefs of the church are, I personally believe that the congregation does have a voice here, just as they have the final say when vesting or removing a pastor. Within the broad statements of the constitution, the pastor(s) and congregation can act according to their biblical responsibilities, and for the pastor that does mean leading, teaching, and making general day-to-day decisions without any sort of direct democracy. However, where decisions affect the overall doctrine or direction of the church, given the examples in Acts, I believe the "whole church" should be involved in making those decisions.

I think I also mostly agree with you on Deacons not having leadership powers in the same way elders do. However, because the qualifications for those men as laid out in the pastoral epistles are almost exactly the same as for pastors/elders, except for being "apt to teach," they end up getting treated as part of the "leadership" of the church, because they are seen as particular examples of being full of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, ruling their houses well, etc. It is not their job to lead the church, except by being examples of serving, though of course Jesus said the greatest among you would be your servants. Hence, I think it is quite normal when a pastor or group of elders seeks the opinion of such men before making decisions of great import (i.e. the multitude of counselors principle). That is why these men are often seen as part of leadership, even if they lead only by being excellent examples. This sort of leadership has nothing to do with the good-old-boy-type deacons we have all seen or heard of who rule in some churches, but the fact of the matter is that in most cases, men that meet the scriptural deacon qualifications will be looked up to by those in the church.

Dave Barnhart

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I agree Dave. 

I agree Dave. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?