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Thread: Appoint elders in Every Town

  1. #1
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    Appoint elders in Every Town

    The Greek for pastor means shepherd. Elders are told to shepherd their flocks. Overseers are told to shepherd their flocks. (Acts 20:28). The position elder seems to be the same position as shepherd and overseer.

    Question 1: is there any biblical evidence for pastors being a separate position to elders?

    Titus was told to appoint elders in every town (Titus 1:5). Elders in Jewish tradition and in the early church were appointed over towns, not over congregations within a town.

    Question 2: A group of Elders should be appointed over each town. Is there any evidence in the Bible that elders had a more limited church role like we see today?
    Last edited by DurbanDude; Jul 24th 2019 at 10:50 AM. Reason: Emphasizing group leadership

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    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    Pastors are often full of faith, and anointed. They would make the best town elders, in a group with mutual accountability. They are already in a position of authority in their neighborhoods.

    If 3 or 4 pastors in a neighbourhood join together as a town eldership team and sell their church buildings, this would easily finance their salaries for a long time.

    The previous elders and deacons can serve as deacons, helping to run house churches. Those with the gift of teaching, teach in the house churches.

    This is a far more biblical model and less of a financial burden on the church.

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    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    Quote Originally Posted by DurbanDude View Post
    The Greek for pastor means shepherd. Elders are told to shepherd their flocks. Overseers are told to shepherd their flocks. (Acts 20:28). The position elder seems to be the same position as shepherd and overseer.

    Question 1: is there any biblical evidence for pastors being a separate position to elders?

    Titus was told to appoint elders in every town (Titus 1:5). Elders in Jewish tradition and in the early church were appointed over towns, not over congregations within a town.

    Question 2: Elders should be appointed over towns. Is there any evidence in the Bible that elders had a more limited church role like we see today?
    I think it's somewhat ambiguous, as evidence by the diverse church organizations we see today. A strong central figure appears to model itself after kings and kingdoms, which God does not seem to favor--see the story of Samuel and Saul.

    Neither does God take to democracy, or by majority rule. God's Kingdom is a theocracy, but knowing the fallibility of all men, both leaders and non-leaders in the church have to remain accountable, and may not assume absolute authority.

    The church consists of "elders," who are older, more experienced Christians, who provide leadership in a variety of ways. Guiding the church as a shepherd, or pastor, is only one form of church leadership.

    There may be several pastors over a church, whereas most often there is just one, to avoid division. But if there is just one pastor, the elders need to hold him accountable.

    I don't personally like the idea of a single pastor, nor the idea of authoritarian leadership or pastoral dominance in the church. Edification is based on every responsible member expressing himself or herself in the church. This happens much less the more a pastor insists on exercising all phases of church operations, including the sermon and the business of the church.

    So I recognize the need for acknowledging elders, or mature Christians, in the church. The young are much more susceptible to error, both in doctrine and in judgment.

    It is a huge mistake to look strictly to the pastor for church ministries and operations. The pastoral role should include giving sermons, but sermons should be shared with other "prophets," and then be judged by consideration of all the "elders."

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Even older Christians are susceptible to pride, sin, and errors. Looking to a single man, who is given absolute authority in the church, is, I think, a big mistake.

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    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    Quote Originally Posted by randyk View Post
    I think it's somewhat ambiguous, as evidence by the diverse church organizations we see today. A strong central figure appears to model itself after kings and kingdoms, which God does not seem to favor--see the story of Samuel and Saul.

    Neither does God take to democracy, or by majority rule. God's Kingdom is a theocracy, but knowing the fallibility of all men, both leaders and non-leaders in the church have to remain accountable, and may not assume absolute authority.

    The church consists of "elders," who are older, more experienced Christians, who provide leadership in a variety of ways. Guiding the church as a shepherd, or pastor, is only one form of church leadership.

    There may be several pastors over a church, whereas most often there is just one, to avoid division. But if there is just one pastor, the elders need to hold him accountable.

    I don't personally like the idea of a single pastor, nor the idea of authoritarian leadership or pastoral dominance in the church. Edification is based on every responsible member expressing himself or herself in the church. This happens much less the more a pastor insists on exercising all phases of church operations, including the sermon and the business of the church.

    So I recognize the need for acknowledging elders, or mature Christians, in the church. The young are much more susceptible to error, both in doctrine and in judgment.

    It is a huge mistake to look strictly to the pastor for church ministries and operations. The pastoral role should include giving sermons, but sermons should be shared with other "prophets," and then be judged by consideration of all the "elders."

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Even older Christians are susceptible to pride, sin, and errors. Looking to a single man, who is given absolute authority in the church, is, I think, a big mistake.
    I couldn't agree more. A group leadership of mutual accountability works best.

    But we could take it one step further, and have a group of elders over a town, and the believers in the town attending home churches. This is what biblical elders are, a group of town elders running the affairs of the town in Jewish culture. And in the church a group of town elders running the spiritual affairs of believers in that town. That's the biblical model.

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    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    I think it’s important to remember that these were cities/towns where the gospel had not been preached and there was no church presence, prior to Paul’s (or another apostle’s) arrival. We should distinguish between that is is descriptive and that which is prescriptive in the NT.
    Some people don't mind contradicting themselves as long as they can keep disagreeing with you...

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    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    Quote Originally Posted by ChangedByHim View Post
    I think it’s important to remember that these were cities/towns where the gospel had not been preached and there was no church presence, prior to Paul’s (or another apostle’s) arrival. We should distinguish between that is is descriptive and that which is prescriptive in the NT.

    Yes certainly the gospel has been successful and believers have been discipled across the world under the current model. It has worked and I dont mean to be prescriptive here. I just believe there's room for improvement, if we go back to how it was originally.

    The church has had revivals when a few church leaders in a neighborhood have abandoned individual programs, and joined together in unity. Believers get excited in the holy spirit and begin to meet spontaneously in each other's homes. This is the nature of revivals.

    The early church is the example of how things should be run. Although the current model has certainly worked, I think things will get way more exciting and spirit-filled under the early church model.

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    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    Elders are the ones who shepherd (pastor) the flock in the Bible. The modern method of only having one shepherd (and his assistants are called elders) can be improved. The pastor/shepherd needs other pastors/shepherds to help him in a team/group situation. The assistants of that group of shepherds should correctly be called "deacons".


    Acts 20:17 Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them:..................28 keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God

    1 Peter 5: To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them

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    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    Quote Originally Posted by ChangedByHim View Post
    I think itís important to remember that these were cities/towns where the gospel had not been preached and there was no church presence, prior to Paulís (or another apostleís) arrival. We should distinguish between that is is descriptive and that which is prescriptive in the NT.
    Good point. What we have today is layer upon layer of church denominations coming in, breaking apart into liberal and conservative divisions, and then reformations and revivals changing them or evolving them. There are, as well, cultic groups laying claim to Christian territory. To just have a city gather together under a single Local Church fellowship is the ideal, but not likely possible in an age of constant attack by forces of Satan and by temptations to divide.

    I joined, by mistake, a cultic group that promised to do this very thing, unite city wide Christians in fellowship. It was called, by others, the "Local Church" cult. It fooled me by selling books by one of my favorite Christian teachers, Watchman Nee. But the leader of this cult, Witness Lee, had departed from the spirit of Watchman Nee, and was actually yet another division away from the orthodox Church. He advocated, at the time, modalistic teaching, even though he denied this.

    Fortunately, I was in that "fellowship" for only a very short period of time. But it did serve to prompt me to study more diligently Christian doctrine and theology. I became more "watchful" against false doctrine and manipulators of Christianity. This is indeed a very good reason to look not just to a single administrator, but more, to a body of elders who responsibly handle the word of God and the Christian creeds.

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    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    Quote Originally Posted by DurbanDude View Post
    Elders are the ones who shepherd (pastor) the flock in the Bible. The modern method of only having one shepherd (and his assistants are called elders) can be improved. The pastor/shepherd needs other pastors/shepherds to help him in a team/group situation. The assistants of that group of shepherds should correctly be called "deacons".


    Acts 20:17 Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them:..................28 keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God

    1 Peter 5: To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christís sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of Godís flock that is under your care, watching over them
    I agree. Deacons were to free up the body of ministers who minister the word of God. They took care of compassionate concerns and maybe administrative or business affairs. Then those who minister the word of God can focus on that for purpose of evangelism and instruction in the Scriptures.

    I don't necessarily oppose a central leadership residing in the main pastor. I just think it's important for every *individual* in the church to be accountable, since we are all susceptible to error, having sin in us.

    We are more susceptible to things like pride and defensiveness the less accountable we are. So we need "checks and balances," and need to have our "head lowered" a bit, so that we are not moved into a position of dominance. That detracts from the centrality of our one head, Jesus Christ.

    If only *one person* is doing all of the ministry, having the final say in everything, the diversity of gifts will not be possible. And worse, the one in charge will be overblown, and all of his personal errors will be distributed throughout the whole church.

    The corrective measure is a body of elders, holding the pastors accountable, and sharing in the ministry. It won't all be "equal ministry"--the pastors will do the most. But at least there will be a measure of equality in the body of Christ so that "all may be edified."

    It is rarely said that edification comes to the one ministering. But I believe that to be the case. It is not just the ones ministered to that are edified, but just as much, the ones doing the ministering. If the pastors do all of the ministry, others will be denied their ministry, and will not be thus "edified."

    1 Cor 14.6 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged.

    One of the worst problems in my own denomination, the AoG, is that Pentecostal leaders often believe "the Spirit is guiding them" to dominate in the preaching and in the prophesying. If the Spirit thus "guides them," then others are, by default, kept from preaching and prophesying themselves! But Paul, in the above passage, clearly shows that spiritual guidance is "subject to the prophets," and would not allow this situation to develop!

    In other denominations, it might just be that the pastors claim to be the legitimately elected and paid leadership so that their choice to dominate is their "right." This would be wrong for the very same reason I just outlined.

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    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    Quote Originally Posted by DurbanDude View Post
    Elders are the ones who shepherd (pastor) the flock in the Bible. The modern method of only having one shepherd (and his assistants are called elders) can be improved. The pastor/shepherd needs other pastors/shepherds to help him in a team/group situation. The assistants of that group of shepherds should correctly be called "deacons".


    Acts 20:17 Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them:..................28 keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God

    1 Peter 5: To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them
    There is a HUGE problem with the way some congregations are organized. The minister calls himself, and is called by the congregation, "Pastor". But his role is to preach the word, not to shepherd the Flock. Because they appoint themselves as "Pastors" they do not allow the congregation to appoint Elders to oversee the Flock. There is no example in Scripture in the First Century Church where a single "Pastor" or "Elder" was appointed over a Church or Town. In every case there were multiple Elders appointed. And the qualifications for being an Elder as clearly spelled out in at least 2 places in Scripture. Many of the "Pastor"s that I know wouldn't qualify as an Elder.

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    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Brents View Post
    There is a HUGE problem with the way some congregations are organized. The minister calls himself, and is called by the congregation, "Pastor". But his role is to preach the word, not to shepherd the Flock. Because they appoint themselves as "Pastors" they do not allow the congregation to appoint Elders to oversee the Flock. There is no example in Scripture in the First Century Church where a single "Pastor" or "Elder" was appointed over a Church or Town. In every case there were multiple Elders appointed. And the qualifications for being an Elder as clearly spelled out in at least 2 places in Scripture. Many of the "Pastor"s that I know wouldn't qualify as an Elder.
    Very true, the church often isn't run correctly. Especially with regard to this topic of a group of elders. Yet there have always been those who abuse power within the church, even in the early church.

    Though the modern church model isn't perfect, even modern pastors have sometimes met together in their neighborhoods, and chosen to be accountable to one another. Their "eldership teams" support them with this accountability to other pastors in the area. Although the labels are incorrect, the out working can be amazing. That group of pastors/shepherds should also be labelled elders, they are the town elders over that neighborhood's believers . And their eldership teams should be referred to as deacons, assisting the town elders/shepherds to shepherd that local neighborhood flock.

    But labels aside, the church on a whole has been doing a great job, and there are many faithful and anointed pastors who are accountable to their peers and "eldership team". If these leaders do not feel threatened when their flock spontaneously meet in each other's homes, then that is similar to the original church model.

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    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    Quote Originally Posted by randyk View Post
    I agree. Deacons were to free up the body of ministers who minister the word of God. They took care of compassionate concerns and maybe administrative or business affairs. Then those who minister the word of God can focus on that for purpose of evangelism and instruction in the Scriptures.

    I don't necessarily oppose a central leadership residing in the main pastor. I just think it's important for every *individual* in the church to be accountable, since we are all susceptible to error, having sin in us.

    We are more susceptible to things like pride and defensiveness the less accountable we are. So we need "checks and balances," and need to have our "head lowered" a bit, so that we are not moved into a position of dominance. That detracts from the centrality of our one head, Jesus Christ.

    If only *one person* is doing all of the ministry, having the final say in everything, the diversity of gifts will not be possible. And worse, the one in charge will be overblown, and all of his personal errors will be distributed throughout the whole church.

    The corrective measure is a body of elders, holding the pastors accountable, and sharing in the ministry. It won't all be "equal ministry"--the pastors will do the most. But at least there will be a measure of equality in the body of Christ so that "all may be edified."

    It is rarely said that edification comes to the one ministering. But I believe that to be the case. It is not just the ones ministered to that are edified, but just as much, the ones doing the ministering. If the pastors do all of the ministry, others will be denied their ministry, and will not be thus "edified."

    1 Cor 14.6 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged.

    One of the worst problems in my own denomination, the AoG, is that Pentecostal leaders often believe "the Spirit is guiding them" to dominate in the preaching and in the prophesying. If the Spirit thus "guides them," then others are, by default, kept from preaching and prophesying themselves! But Paul, in the above passage, clearly shows that spiritual guidance is "subject to the prophets," and would not allow this situation to develop!

    In other denominations, it might just be that the pastors claim to be the legitimately elected and paid leadership so that their choice to dominate is their "right." This would be wrong for the very same reason I just outlined.
    True, pastors often take on too much responsibility, I like what you say regarding "overblown". The faults and good points of the pastor are exaggerated at the expense of the congregation.

    Also the gifts of the flock are under utilized when the shepherd of the flock takes on too much responsibility.

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    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    Quote Originally Posted by DurbanDude View Post
    True, pastors often take on too much responsibility, I like what you say regarding "overblown". The faults and good points of the pastor are exaggerated at the expense of the congregation.

    Also the gifts of the flock are under utilized when the shepherd of the flock takes on too much responsibility.
    Thank you. I have a lifetime of experience in churches, and have seen the "leadership" problems. I'm not against pastors. Some of my good friends are pastors. But one thing I know for certain is that as sinners they are no better than any other Christian. We all need accountability. The less there is, the more danger exists for the problems of pastors to be spread throughout the church.

    On the other hand there is the danger of undervaluing the authority of the pastors and board. They are given, by God, to have authority to direct the church. As long as there is accountability, their authority should be submitted to. We are, in fact, to submit ourselves to "one another." We should let one another play out our individual roles. Then through the diversity of gifts we may all be edified and received from the *abundance* of gifts, and not just from the pastors.

  14. #14

    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    Quote Originally Posted by DurbanDude View Post
    Titus was told to appoint elders in every town (Titus 1:5).
    Are you sure that καταστήσῃς κατὰ πόλιν πρεσβυτέρους ("appoint, according to towns, elders") doesn't mean one elder per town?

  15. #15

    Re: Appoint elders in Every Town

    Quote Originally Posted by randyk View Post
    But one thing I know for certain is that as sinners they are no better than any other Christian. We all need accountability.
    That's what denominations are for: a "boss" for the pastor (i.e. a "bishop") or a group of other pastors (i.e. a "presbytery") provides the accountability.

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