Monday, February 15, 2016

STUDIES IN TITUS (pt 4)

FOLLOW THE BIBLICAL INSTRUCTION

After listing the qualifications for an elder/overseer/bishop/pastor in the church, Paul gives the reason for oversight in verses
10 through 16—
those who would deceive the church through false teachings.

(I will go over the qualifications as listed later.)
The point I have been making is the necessity of having more than one person in leadership within the local church.

Having only one person in charge opens the door for deception.

There is a prophetic proverb given in Zechariah 13:7—“…smite the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered…” (spoken prophetically of the Lord Jesus and His disciples).

With only one overseer, it is fairly easy for the enemy to destroy a flock.

Satan easily finds the weakness within the lone individual and exploits it so that the group is rendered ineffective for the work of the ministry. Whether that weakness is moral or doctrinal matters not to the enemy of our souls.

We’ve all seen a church become a tumbleweed when the pastor is taken down through a moral failure. That church can survive, but is weakened in the community.

What we don’t see so readily are the devastating effects of a pastor led off into doctrinal deception.

Without a plurality of leadership, the opportunity for the enemy to gain entrance through the lone leader is always available.

Of course, there is no guarantee that plurality is an impenetrable wall. I have experienced that first hand in the second church I helped establish.

What, then, does plural leadership look like?
Is there someone who has the ‘final say’?
Must there be consensus for every major decision?
How do we shift from a pastor/leader to a leadership team?

Good questions that are not easily answered—
  • due to only knowing what we’ve always known; 
  • due to the lack of clear explanation in scripture; 
  • due to fear of something new; 
  • due to men and women wanting to protect their position

As one who has studied and observed this situation for a few decades, I offer my opinion. Please understand it is ONLY MY OPINION.

A LITTLE HISTORY

Denominationally, the Presbyterians are the closest to operating from a plural leadership model. Many will say that the episcopal form of government followed by the Episcopalians, Methodists, Catholics and others also use a plural form.

The Charismatic Renewal was known more for its emphasis on teaching than on the gifts, and that teaching led to many changes in how “church” was done.

One such aspect was the establishment of elders within the local assembly who functioned under the pastor in the oversight of the church. This model is still followed by many today.

Structurally, both the Presbyterian model and the charismatic model can work. 

The greatest weakness with the charismatic model is the charismatic pastor/leader—and I am not referring to whether he speaks in tongues or prophesies.

If the pastor chooses his elders, the weakness is obvious. He is only going to choose those with whom he can get along, thus effectively building a body of “yes-men.” “Yes-men” will go where the leader goes.

If the pastor is not to choose elders when trying to establish a biblical model of leadership, then who should?

Biblically, the answer is an “apostle,” or one sent by an apostle.

How many apostles do you know?
There weren’t many to begin with, and there aren’t many now.
And many of those who say they are apostles aren’t.
(Rev. 2:2)

In the face of the apparent dilemma, I believe there is a solution.

But first, a personal anecdote.
I was thrown out of the last church I was in by an autocratic leader for the sin of wanting to have a home Bible study. Four years before that, he had personally dismissed all the elders in that church, so that he was the lone authority. After I arrived, I brought up the question of plural leadership. I was told that it was being considered. I was also told that one particular person had been considered for leadership, “but he doesn’t bring anybody to church.”
Therein lies both the problem and the answer.

The problem, as stated earlier, is that we have left off the Bible in exchange for the doctrines of men. (Matt. 15:9)

This particular requirement was not presented within a list of requirements. It was given as the reason why a certain person could not serve in leadership.

I trust that you can at least agree with the ludicrous nature of such a requirement, let alone its unbiblical nature.


If you are the pastor of a congregation and you would like to begin the process of implementing plurality of leadership, then I make the following suggestion:

Follow the Bible

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