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Is the office of Pastor biblical?

April 19, 2010

I have been attending a study on Church government which is being taught by a friend of mine and was disturbed to hear him say that there is no biblical basis for the office of pastor in the Bible.  He agreed that there is biblical basis for the office of bishop and elder and overseer and deacon but not for the pastor. His rational is that  there is only one place in the New Testament that mentioned the word Pastor: Ephesians 4:11.

This gentleman also believes wholeheartedly in the Congregationally Led Church model. In my view this places the inmates in charge of the institution and turns the pastor into a hireling. Consider the illustrations given in John 10 where Jesus refered to Himself as a Shepherd leading the sheep. Nowhere in any of Jesus’ teachings do we hear of the sheep telling the shepherd what pasture they would like to feed in.  In fact, when you look back in the Old Testament to times when the ‘sheep’ are in control, it is never a good thing and it never ends well. These are times when the people forgot God and did what was right in their own eyes. It always ended up in death and slavery. These are not positive things! 

The biblical model stands in stark contrast the above illustration for in it we find the flock described as being led by the Shepherd to good solid food and refreshing water. The office of Pastor is that of an under-shepherd who, having been called by the Chief Shepherd into the work of feeding the flock set before him; he seeks to emulate his Master Jesus who leads us into green pastures and beside still waters. The Pastor is responsible to lead and feed the flock set before him.

The congregation is responsible to grow into mature men and women of God who do the work of the ministry. And there must not be some dictatorial model here where the Pastor beats the sheep or fleeces them. Instead the pastor must be possessed of the attitude of humility and brokenness before God; of loving the flock and serving them as one who will give an account of himself to the Chief Shepherd!  He should not seek to  lord it over the sheep but should strive to bring them to maturity.  And the flock, if they have ears to hear, if they are maturing in the Christian life and growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, will be able to spot error and hold the pastor accountable.

Unfortunately too many men (and women who have no place in the pulpit) seem to arrive at the place where they see the church as theirs and those who would hold to the truth as interlopers/usurpers who must be weeded out! This is a great evil and I understand where my friend is coming from in his attempt to protect this church against such dictators. But in his attempt to protect these people he is leading them into further error.

And so as I listened to this man’s observations I grew more and more disturbed.

In my view I see the terms Bishop/Elder/Overseer/Pastor as interchangable and describe the office of Pastor: who he is and what he does. I believe that if it is possible there should be a plurality of elders to oversee the Church. I also believe that the office of deacon is an office of service not of oversight. The deacon is in place to meet the physical needs of the flock which frees the Pastor to meet the spiritual needs of the flock.

I would be interested in and welcome any comments concerning this subject.

Have a nice day


2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 22, 2010 12:05 pm

    I agree with you that the words are interchangeable. My opinion about why so many Christians want a congregationally led church is that so many Christians are full of pride and don’t want to acknowledge that they need to be taught and led. Everyone wants to be the chief and nobody wants to be the Indian.

  2. April 22, 2010 5:51 pm

    I think you hit it right on the nose!

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