Why we should go to a plural eldership? (for pastors)
Topic: plural eldership
by David Cox 1998
The question presented is one that can simply be answered, because the plurality model is the biblical representation of local church government. In other articles I wish to present, I will deal with specific issues and especially the biblical basis, but in this article I would like to present a general argument on the basis of some Scriptures and some common sense.
When we look at the local church, many typically have a single pastor which does the majority of the preaching, teaching, and administration of the local church. There are usually a small group of men who are called deacons who approve the financial affairs of the local church. The attitude of our typical local church is one that would be summed up in the following, “we pay the pastor to do the work of the ministry, so why should we get involved?” The exception is that of finances, but other than that and some Sunday School classes, most of the work of the ministry is laid on the shoulders of one man, the pastor.
Taken from a white paper by David Cox written August 11, 1994
The New Testament does not lay down a whole lot of foundational teaching on elders (some, but not a lot). This is because the concept of “elders” is already defined in the Old Testament. The idea of elders comes from the tribes of Israel, where there is in this culture a profound respect for “older people”. This respect extends to giving them a place on administration and group decisions as well as weighing in on many matters.
Let me say that there is a difference between an older person and an elder. The difference is that an elder is a person who is respected because of HOW he lived his life. Basically hard work, good decisions, and faithfulness to the basic tasks of work, home, family, nation, and church is what defines a person as an elder. In the Old Testament there were not churches of course, but “the congregation” or the people of Israel in their religious capacity. Before this structure came to be though, the elders of a group of people saw to the religious affairs of that group. Job is an example that is without date, but very old. Yet without the tabernacle nor the temple, Job was worried about the religious state of his children. The is a good man being an elder. We see Cain and Able offering sacrifices for their family, and Abraham as well. This leadership in life is what makes the difference between an old man and an elder.
In time, God brought chosen leaders onto the scene, and while in a sense they replaced the elders as leaders, they really only became more focused leaders given over to the ministry of administration and leadership. They both received support the elders, and they ministered to the elders.
Following our study of 7 Deadly sins of a dying church, the next one is that they have few outwardly focused ministries. The key here is introspection, or a selfishness of doing everything for their own selves. As a missionary, I have experienced some 50 years of watching things in local churches. At one time churches rallied around their work abroad, and today, church after church either just does not support missions at all, or their missions budget is sending their own people on joy rides around the world (mission trips) where the go to England to pass out some tracts, and mostly see sights.
Let me first of all define “being cynical”. By this I mean that the pastor “has a bad attitude”, is unnecessarily critical, makes fun of or comments about people’s problems, etc. By this he simply speaks unadvisedly with his mouth about things that are happening in his church, ministry, or even personal life.
Part of this is a reaction by the pastor towards people, events, etc. It is usually a smartellic type mouth or comments about other people failing somehow. This attitude destroys a man of God’s reputation and ministry.
Ruth 1:13Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me. Ruth 1:20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. Ruth 1:21 I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?
Bitterness is a reaction against things that God does in the life of a person. Bitterness is a grunt against God for having allowed these evil things to come to pass in the person’s life.