Friday, May 07, 2004

The "ONE MAN PASTOR" System is NOT in the Bible
-by Andrew Strom.

Most churches today are run using the 'Senior Pastor'
model, where one man (-almost always with a degree
from Bible College) does most of the ministering and
is looked up to as "the man of God". Few could deny
that pastors are truly the ones who are running the
church today.

But amazingly enough, in the Book of Acts, which is
the history of the first 30 YEARS of the early church,
the word 'Pastor' is NOT EVEN MENTIONED ONCE. In
fact, even in the whole New Testament the word is only
used one time - and that is near the bottom of a list of
ministries in the church: "It was he who gave some to be
apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists,
and some to be pastors and teachers..." (Eph 4:11, NIV).
-This is the only place where the word 'Pastor' can be found.

There were elders and 'overseers' (-these terms are inter-
changeable) in the New Testament church. But that is
totally different from the position of "one man pastor" that
we have today.

So how did Pastors end up running everything? And what
effect does this have on the church?

Well, when you study history it becomes obvious that we
mostly got this concept from Rome - not from the Bible.
As Beckham said (-quoted in one of our previous articles):
"Using a combination of the Roman governmental and
feudal systems, Emporer Constantine developed a church
structure that has lasted for seventeen centuries... People
go to a building (cathedral) on a special day of the week
(Sunday) and someone (a priest, or today, a pastor) does
something to them (teaching, preaching, absolution or
healing) or for them (a ritual or entertainment) for a price (offerings)."

In most cases, what we are seeing today is the
continuation of this "Clergy and Laity" system that
dominated the church during the Dark Ages. There is
very little difference, really. The titles have changed but
apart from that it is basically the old Roman Catholic
system of professional 'Priests' running everything. We
call them 'pastors' but the position is basically the same.

These are people who have gained a degree from Bible
College, and now we pay them to be our "minister". Never
mind the fact that we are ALL supposed to be ministers!

What this results in is two different 'classes' in the church.
-The "ministering" class and the "churchgoing" class
(or 'laity'). -Which is something that God utterly detests.
He cannot stand His people being divided up into 'classes'
like this. It is the doctrine of the "Nicolaitans" (Rev 2).

But is it really that bad? What harm does it really do?

Below are the specific ways that this "one man pastor"
model does enormous harm to the church:
(1) It puts one person on a pedestal - above all others. In
many churches this veneration of the pastor closely
resembles Idolatry. His word is law and the entire
church revolves around this one man.
(2) This leads directly to PRIDE. The position that we
place these men in is terribly dangerous for them and
for the whole church. It is very difficult NOT to develop
Pride when treated in this way. Pride is the most subtle
and spiritually fatal of diseases. It wreaks havoc wherever
it finds a home.
(3) Control, manipulation and spiritual abuse become
common where power is concentrated in the hands of
one 'venerated' figure. Power corrupts. Flattery corrupts.
Veneration corrupts. And before you know it, people
are being terribly damaged and wounded by the control
and the "management techniques" being exerted from the
top. Then new teachings on "covering" and "submission"
are wheeled out, to lend an air of legitemacy to the
oppression that is being visited upon people. Everyone
is told to 'submit' and not to question. The "one man
pastor" system lends itself to this whole scenario like a
hand in a glove. It is virtually made for it.
(4) It turns the church into a bunch of "spectators". In
other words, everybody sits around and watches while the
'professionals' do most of the work. It is their "job" after
all. -This is an absolute disaster. For we ALL have gifts
and callings and anointings from God.

(5) The position lends itself to "robes and titles". Jesus
said to his disciples, "You are not to be called 'Rabbi,'
because you have only one Master and you are all
brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you
have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be
called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ."
(See Matt 23:5-12, NIV). -None of this seems to stop
men from taking on "titles" today.

(6) Many pastors by their nature tend to be "play it safe"
types. They don't like the boat being rocked and they
are often resistant to real change. The fact that today's
church is in the hands of pastors, rather than apostles
and prophets (as it should be) who are the "risk-takers"
of the church, means that it is slow to react and is easily
out-manoevred by the enemy. We desperately need
anointed 'risk-takers' and change-oriented leaders today.

(7) Because the position of Pastor is usually the "only job
going" in the church, it forces many who are actually
evangelists or prophets to become Pastors, just so they
can get to minister. Often they are quite out of place, and
many times this leads to disaster.

(8) All of this creates such a load on the shoulders of
the man that is appointed Senior Pastor, that this job
has one of the worst BURNOUT rates in the western

(9) At the end of the day, just like church buildings, the
best reason for rejecting this model of leadership is that
it is simply NOT IN THE BIBLE.

Some people say that having a 'board of elders' who
can hire or fire the pastor keeps all of this in check. Not
so. It may keep the "control" side of things down, but
the mere fact that they feel the need to "appoint a
pastor" just shows how hooked into this system they
really are. It is centuries old, and all we are doing is
perpetuating it.

So how did they do things in the New Testament?

Well, the first thing we need to realize is that the
apostles were not "professionals". Apart from Paul they
had never been to Bible College. (-These were run by
the Pharisees!) Most of the apostles were simple
fishermen and tax-collectors. But they had spent MUCH
TIME WITH JESUS. -That was their qualification.

And it is clear that Pastors were never in charge of the
church. It was the APOSTLES who were given that role.
But they never "lorded it over" the people. And wherever
they went they appointed elders or overseers (plural) to
watch over the church in their absence. Unfortunately,
some translations of the Bible use the word "Bishop",
which gives the impression of a 'hierarchy'. But this was
not in the original. As Greek scholar W.E. Vine states:
"'Presbuteros', an elder, is another term for the same
person as bishop or overseer. See Acts 20:17 with verse 28."
So these were just simple "elders" - that's all.

It was only when the church fell into serious decline and
then into Romanism that the complicated "hierarchies"
began. Before this, it was all very simple. Perhaps one
day it will be so again.

Now, some will want to ask - Does all this information
make me "anti-pastor"? -Not on a personal level. In
fact, I tend to get on with pastors pretty well. I meet
them all the time. But we have to realize that a lot of
them are struggling inside a system that is completely
unscriptural - and change has got to come.

God bless you, my friends!

Kindest regards in Christ,

Andrew Strom.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

By Francis Frangipane
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One of the most common verses in the New Testament reads, "and great multitudes followed Jesus." The gospel of Matthew alone mentions over twenty distinct instances when vast numbers of people traveled great distances to be with Christ. People saw in Jesus meekness, unlimited power, and perfect love. If we would win souls, people must see in us this same Jesus.

When People Saw Jesus

"And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, 'I feel compassion for the multitude, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat.'" Matthew 15:32

There were two occasions when Jesus fed the multitudes. The first event occurred in a desolate region of the Judean wilderness, and it lasted one day. During the second event, the multitudes had been with Jesus for three days without food on a hillside near the Sea of Galilee.

The impact Christ had upon the local Jewish society was unprecedented! Their entire economy stopped. No one picked over or sold vegetables in the marketplaces, goats were not milked, gardens were left untended, and relatives watching little children did not know when the parents would return! For three days nothing at all was normal.

They Left All

These local communities left all when they heard Jesus was near. Without forethought, without packing a donkey, without so much as taking extra food or telling those who remained at home when to expect them, four thousand men, plus additional thousands of women and children, spontaneously followed Christ to a "desolate place." Perhaps ten thousand or more people left their villages, but we read of no one complaining that "the service was too long," or "the weather too hot" or "the message was boring." Whatever they lacked in comfort and convenience was overshadowed by the glory of being
with Jesus!

How wonderful it must have been to be with Jesus! The first time Christ fed the multitudes, the people were so overwhelmed they conspired together to "take Him by force, to make Him king" (John 6:15).

Such was Jesus. But a problem exists among many of us. People who do not really know God's Son seek to represent Him to others. Instead of testifying of His wonderful works, they testify only of their eligion. The unsaved do not see Jesus. They hear about church, they are told sin is wrong, lusts are evil, and drunkenness a terrible shame, but they do not see the wonder of the love of Jesus. Yes, these things are wrong, but people must meet the love of Jesus before they will abandon their love of sin.

Called to Silence

Plainly, Jesus called a number of people to silence concerning Himself. There were some whom He told, "See that you tell no one" (Matt. 8:4, also 9:30, 12:16). Others He outright forbade to speak, even though what they spoke was truth (Mark 3:11-12). Still others He warned would be doing great works, yet He neither sent them nor spoke to them, nor did He ever know them (Matt. 7:22-23). Indeed, there were even those of whom He warned whose zeal for converts took them over "sea and land," yet their proselytes became "twice as much a son of hell" as they themselves were (Matt. 23:15).

It is not our goal to discourage any from witnessing, especially when the need is so great in our society. Still, we must realize that what we are routinely - in attitude and deed - is a living testimony that, without our premeditation, is "known and read by all men" (2 Cor. 3:2). A "witness" is not just that which is "said"; it is that which is seen. If we will draw men to Christ in heaven, they must be eyewitnesses of Christ in us. But, if we have flagrant sin or self-righteousness, our witness is non-effective.

Let Your Light So Shine

Light, in the Scriptures, symbolizes the out-raying purity of the Holy God. When our hearts and subsequent actions are pure, the light of God's Presence shines through us into this world. It is with this in mind that Jesus tells us to let our light shine before men in such a way that they see our good works and glorify the Father (Matt. 5:16).

If good works glorify the Father, then bad works bring Him dishonor. Paul tells us that the "name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles" because of the sins of those who fail to represent Him (Rom. 2:24).

King David was a great witness of the Living God to his generation, but when David sinned his witness became a reproach. In the 51st Psalm, David's prayer reveals the right attitudes necessary to truly witness for God. He prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. ...Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee" (Ps. 51:10-13).

You see, the credibility of our witness is lost when sin rules in our lives. The world has heard too many Christians give testimony to a life they are not living. They cause multitudes of people to think Christianity does not work.

How to Know When to Witness

"But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you...for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." 1 Peter 3:15

Many Christians are told to witness for Jesus. Again, we would not discourage your witness for Jesus; rather we seek to encourage you to live for Him as well! Let people see Him in you before you testify. There are Christians who publicly sin in the work place: they lose their tempers and do bad work, they are often late or heard complaining about management and job conditions. Yet, they feel compelled to give their testimony. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him (Titus 1:16). A "voice" in their minds compels them to "witness for Jesus." Sometimes that voice is the Holy Spirit, but more often it is not. Undaunted, they are sure it is from heaven, since they feel "guilty" until they witness and
feel "good" afterward.

There is one sure way to know if the voice urging you to witness is from God: If the voice speaking to you is the audible voice of someone who has seen your good works and is asking about your way of life, that voice has been inspired by God. When people see Christ in you - in your patience when wronged, your peace in adversity, your forgiveness amidst cruelty - they will ask about your hope.

The Seed of Reproduction is in Your Fruit

If your conversion is genuine, you found a love for Jesus that is, in itself, a witness of His life. Unfortunately, we often seek to lead people into our religion instead of to Christ. How often we seek to convert our family and friends into a particular church structure. People must be led to Jesus, not merely to church.

Let us always remember, Jesus wants to reach people, not drive them away. How does God expect us to do that? First, let us make sure our conversion is real, that we have truly given over our lives to Jesus Christ. Then, determine to bear the spiritual fruit of love and humility in your life.

In the Garden of Eden the Lord placed trees with "seed in the fruit." Remember, beloved, the seed that has power to reproduce life is in the fruit. If you would like to see the life of Christ reproduced in your loved ones or friends, walk in the fruit of the Spirit, for the power of reproduction is in the seed and the seed is in your fruit. The fruit we must display comes from the Tree of Life, which brings "healing of the nations" (Rev. 22:2). It is not in the tree of knowledge of good and evil - legalistic laws, judging what is wrong in people.

A Sure Sign

Should you sin or stumble before them, which we all do at times, repent both to God and to those you have sinned against. A sincere repentance to an unsaved person is a sure sign that God is both real and in control of your life!

Parents: do you want your children raised for Christ? Do you want your words to impart eternal life? Walk in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. As your children are nourished by the fruit in your life, the seeds within your fruitfulness will reproduce in your family the same qualities. Would you convert your spouse? Your parents? Your friends? Walk in the fruit of the Spirit, in love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. Those who know you will find your life veryattractive, for through your life they will see the holy life of Jesus.

Adapted from Holiness, Truth and the Presence of God

By Francis Frangipane
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