Do you believe pastors are specially called to ministry and that call carries with it some level of authority?

Yes, true pastors are generally called specially to the ministry and a level of authority is included in that call
53% (8 votes)
Yes, but pastors have no more authority than lay elders
20% (3 votes)
No, pastors are not specifically called but do have more authority than a lay elder
7% (1 vote)
No, pastors not called and have no more authority than lay elders
7% (1 vote)
Other
13% (2 votes)
Total votes: 15
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There are 13 Comments

Ed Vasicek's picture

My son just graduated from Moody and is now a student at STBS. He has even been a rare participant to SI. Anyhow, he was opining to me that part of the post-modern "creep" into the fundamental/evangelical world is a negative view of authority, a trend that began with the Baby Boomers but is rampant with the Millennials. One result of this is many are beginning to deny a special call to ministry, because such a call carries with it a level of authority (or superiority in some areas).

My son's conclusion is that pastors should have a double vote on the board of elders (based on the principle of I Timothy 5:17), as long as there are enough elders to out vote him and keep him accountable.

Quote:
The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. NASB

So what is your viewpoint? I am sure that the "other" category will get some hits, but if another viewpoint ALMOST fits where you are at, please defer to it. Thanks!

"The Midrash Detective"

Teri Ploski's picture

Please explain what you mean by authority and how it relates to me, the common Jane in the pew. Because of an experience in a former church, I have a difficult time with a pastor telling me he has authority over my life, without defining the parameters of that authority.

(The previous church was in CA. The pastor told us that he had total authority and responsibility for us, down to what we wore, what we watched on TV, what we did for recreation, who we affiliated with. This was a GARBC pastor. Interestingly enough, I found out quite by accident that 7 years ago this same pastor was arrested on molestation charges and is currently in jail. Coincidence? Am I consequently jaded - obviously yes. Do I respect and admire my current pastor and subject myself to his authority in many areas? Yes. But I learned from that experience.)

Ed Vasicek's picture

Teri Ploski wrote:
Please explain what you mean by authority and how it relates to me, the common Jane in the pew. Because of an experience in a former church, I have a difficult time with a pastor telling me he has authority over my life, without defining the parameters of that authority.

(The previous church was in CA. The pastor told us that he had total authority and responsibility for us, down to what we wore, what we watched on TV, what we did for recreation, who we affiliated with. This was a GARBC pastor. Interestingly enough, I found out quite by accident that 7 years ago this same pastor was arrested on molestation charges and is currently in jail. Coincidence? Am I consequently jaded - obviously yes. Do I respect and admire my current pastor and subject myself to his authority in many areas? Yes. But I learned from that experience.)

Absolute authority corrupts absolutely, according to Lord Acton. He is right. Limited authority, accountable authority, authority only in legitimate domains -- that is what I am talking about. Everyone needs boundaries, and the leader you speak of overstepped both his domain and certainly the Scriptures. Being a control freak is a great danger indeed. Child molesters are often harsh, unhealthy people. Sad to say, but a lot of people go into the ministry, in my opinion, to try to fix themselves or to feel important. They are not called servants but control freaks; some would either have no influence if they were in a secular job or they would be cut-throat hard-driving executives. They control people but are not actually social if you think about it.

I am talking about the opposite reaction where a pastor is considered just one of the elders, period. I am arguing not that he should have absolute authority or always get his way, but that he should have MORE influence because he is called and should spearhead the direction of the church with the support of his other elders. He has to be a team player, but a team without a coach is a fiasco.

My argument is one of balance. Unhealthy people are drawn to an authoritative leader, and sometimes people with a fear of authority are drawn to a weak leader, as are people with agendas. Once agendas enter the picture, any leader can be labelled a villain. Balanced people tend to appreciate a balanced leader.

"The Midrash Detective"

Shaynus's picture

Erm. I don't think the authority lays in the call. I see all elders and pastors in the same category as far as authority. It's a practical matter of who gets paid or not. Additionally, the call to be an elder may not coincide with actual eldership. Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but an individual man may feel a call in his heart to be an elder one day, but then doesn't have authority until a church calls him as an elder. I'm willing to admit those two calls may be different, and aren't specific biblical categories. But we use the term "call" differently in different circumstances.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I voted "Yes, true pastors are generally called specially to the ministry and a level of authority is included in that call". I agree that there is some confusion about terms such as "call" and "authority".

I've had to unlearn much of what I thought was true about authority figures in the church. It was a big wake up call to realize that first and foremost there is an authority of the individual, which is my responsibility and accountability to God. That 'ministering' and 'submitting' flow both ways. However, any time we as humans see a loophole, our desire not have anyone 'judge' us tempts us to toss out Biblical authority structures.

Lee's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:
...My son's conclusion is that pastors should have a double vote on the board of elders (based on the principle of I Timothy 5:17), as long as there are enough elders to out vote him and keep him accountable.
...

The elder elder, so to speak.H:)

Actually, in practically every church I've ever seen with an "elder" board, the de facto operation, even if not written and acknowledged, is that there is a "superior" elder who is almost always what us commoners reference as "the pastor."

As a friend of mine often states, "anything with two heads is a monster." Throw my vote to #1.

Lee

Ed Vasicek's picture

Shaynus wrote:
Erm. I don't think the authority lays in the call. I see all elders and pastors in the same category as far as authority. It's a practical matter of who gets paid or not. Additionally, the call to be an elder may not coincide with actual eldership. Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but an individual man may feel a call in his heart to be an elder one day, but then doesn't have authority until a church calls him as an elder. I'm willing to admit those two calls may be different, and aren't specific biblical categories. But we use the term "call" differently in different circumstances.

I would suggest that option 4 was a good fit for your view,

Quote:
No, pastors not called and have no more authority than lay elders

You really do not believe in a call to ministry, IMO, but a leading. By the term call, I mean something more profound that merely "desiring" to be an elder, as per I Timothy 3:1. I mean something more on the line of Paul's call on the road to Damascus, only not necessarily as dramatic. I am talking about the conviction that God has his hand on you for vocational ministry.

Your viewpoint is the rising one; yet, even today, most ministers will tell you that they have the conviction that they were specially called by God for ministry -- at least that's what I hear and what my pastor buddies say.

If your viewpoint is correct, then being a pastor is a choice of vocation, although you certainly give room for the Spirit to lead. I am talking about a compulsion, a "woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ" kind of thing.

"The Midrash Detective"

Shaynus's picture

Ed,

Thanks for your very clarifying comments. I'll give you an example of my own church to try to clarify what I'm saying, and maybe offer a different viewpoint. This is where semantics can influence how we believe. I went to Bob Jones University all my life and heard the invitations to "full-time Christian service" thousands of times as if it were some kind of higher level of . I honestly think this is mildly warped thinking that produces some unhealthy ideas about what the Christian life is all about. All of us are in full-time Christian service. All elders are to be apt to teach.

I'm in a church plant. We have two elders currently with more in the pipeline. One is paid and one isn't. Both of them feel the call of God on them to be elders as long as He gives them breath. Both have vocations they could pursue (and well). Both preach often, but the paid one more. The paid one does more of the organizational work than the other. I would bet that my currently paid pastor could go back into secular business no problem for a paycheck, but still have the compulsion to serve as an elder and preach.

My own grandfather was a bi-vocational pastor, and I'd like to toot his horn for a second. Ken Gamble Sr. was a New Jersey school teacher for 35 years (and therefore a great pension and benefits, thanks Democrats!). He has been the pastor of the same church for 58 years (and still is). He has been the member of that same church for 75 years. Was he a teacher? Yes. Was he also a pastor? Yes.

Paul chose to be paid or not based on circumstances helpful to the body. In some places he was, in others he wasn't. He still saw himself as an apostle whether or not it was a vocation. He still had the fire in his belly to preach paid or not. We probably disagree on this, but it's a minor one.

Best,

Shayne

Shaynus's picture

"Yes, true pastors are generally called specially to the ministry and a level of authority is included in that call"

"No, pastors are not specifically called but do have more authority than a lay elder"

Ed,

The way this is worded, if lay elders aren't called in the same way as vocational pastors, then logically they would not be "true pastors." I take those terms as synonymous in Scripture. It's this assumed dichotomy of pastor and elder that doesn't give me an option besides "other."

Shayne

Dan Miller's picture

I said, "Yes, but pastors have no more authority than lay elders."

But I need to point out that on my view, pastors are elders. And elders are pastors. They all must be called. And they all have "authority."

Ed Vasicek's picture

Shaynus wrote:
"Yes, true pastors are generally called specially to the ministry and a level of authority is included in that call"

"No, pastors are not specifically called but do have more authority than a lay elder"

Ed,

The way this is worded, if lay elders aren't called in the same way as vocational pastors, then logically they would not be "true pastors." I take those terms as synonymous in Scripture. It's this assumed dichotomy of pastor and elder that doesn't give me an option besides "other."

Shayne

I personally think that there is a difference. Guys called and educated for ministry may be technically elders, but their calling is distinct from lay elders. They are not just elders, but more like a Timothy. Whether they are bi-vocational or not is a separate issue. Lay elders generally arise from a congregation and serve that congregation, whereas those called to pastoral ministry often move in to serve. It would be unusual for a church to appoint a brand new member to the elders' board, but it is not unusual for a pastor to become a pastor once hired (obviously after examination). In practice, at least, this distinction is in itself a recognition that professional clergy are not the same as lay leaders.

"The Midrash Detective"

Shaynus's picture

Ed,

Would it be fair to say your distinction here is based on traditions and practices that have grown up into our American context rather than the Bible? Tradition and practicality are fine ways to decide to do things, but are you saying this is the biblical pattern?

Shayne

Dan Miller's picture

Ed Vasicek ][quote=Shaynus wrote:
...Guys called and educated for ministry may be technically elders, but their calling is distinct from lay elders. They are not just elders, but more like a Timothy. Whether they are bi-vocational or not is a separate issue. Lay elders generally arise from a congregation and serve that congregation, whereas those called to pastoral ministry often move in to serve. ...
In Scripture, the predominant pattern was elders from the church. There were a few who were recruited from away (Timothy, Paul, Titus). I think it's easy to see these guys as temporary (Paul and Titus). So recruiting doesn't seem to be an ongoing aspect of the church.

So I see nothing wrong with recruiting pastors, but I believe that developing unpaid elders from the church is sadly neglected.