Biblical Church Leadership
GETTING IT RIGHT
When you're baking, it's important to follow the recipe. Once when my wife was making chocolate chip cookies, she didn't have any baking soda, so she added baking powder instead. The cookies were alright, but they weren't as good as they could have been. Of course, not following a recipe can lead to more disastrous results-like when salt is mistakenly added instead of sugar.
In the Bible (specifically the NT), we find God's instructions for church leadership. These instructions are sort of like a recipe. In many churches, God's recipe for leadership is not followed. Not following God's recipe for church leadership might not result in disaster for a church (though sometimes it can). But, as Christians, we should strive to understand God's instructions for leadership. We shouldn't merely want church leadership, but biblical church leadership.
THREE NAMES, ONE OFFICE
In the NT, three words are used to describe church leaders:
- ''ELDER'' (presbyteros) - church leaders are to be men of SPIRITUAL MATUR-ITY. ''Elder'' is the predominate NT term for local church leaders. The qualifications for elders can be found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. ''The list of qualities is not intended to be exhaustive but pictures a person of mature Christian character, one whose faith has had tangible impact on his behavior'' (ESV Study Bible, p. 2328).
- ''OVERSEER'' (episkopos) - church leaders are to be MANAGERS of God's church. In the KJV, episkopos is translated ''bishop.''
- ''PASTOR'' (poimen) - church leaders are to be SHEPHERDS of God's church. Surprisingly, ''pastor'' occurs only once in the NT when referring to a church leader (Eph. 4:11). In 1 Peter 5:2, the elders are told to ''shepherd [pastor] the flock of God'' (1 Peter 5:2). The elders of the NT were ''pastor elders,'' not ''board elders.''
In summary, a church leader is called an elder who oversees and pastors a church.
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