How many people ignore the qualifications for pastors presented in Scripture? Do your pastors meet the qualifications?
The noun form of the word “pastor” is found only in one verse for a church position besides that of Christ in Ephesians 4:11. From Ephesians 4:11, pastors are set apart from apostles, prophets, and evangelists. The verb form of “pastor” meaning “to shepherd,” and besides Christ as the Great Shepherd and literal shepherds, pastors are elders who do the shepherd the church. “Pastor” comes from the Greek word poimein means “shepherd,” which the Greek word for pastor is used repeatedly in Scripture for church elders especially the Chief Pastor, Christ (Matt 9:36; 25:32; 26:31; Mark 6:34; 14:27; Luke 2:8, 15, 18, 20; John 10:2, 11, 12, 14, 16; Heb 13:20; 1 Pet 2:25).
What the Bible has to say about pastors may surprise you. Those who are to shepherd are clearly presented in Acts 20 and 1 Peter 5. In Acts 20, Paul called the “elders” of Ephesus to him in Miletus (v17). Paul referred to these elders as “bishops” or literally “overseers.” In Paul’s discourse, he instructed these elders to “shepherd the church of the Lord” (Acts 20:28). The only other occurrence of church leaders shepherding are again by “elders” in 1 Peter 5:2, “shepherd the flock of God that is among you.” These elders are the overseeing bishops and pastoring shepherds of New Testament churches. Evidently, the official position of pastor in shepherding congregations are “elders” who are also called “overseers” as presented in the above Scriptures. There are no other positions in the church for which one is to be a pastor of the flock. Ministers and evangelists are never referred to “shepherds.”
The Scriptural titles for elders includes “overseers” and “pastors.” The position of elder comes the word “presbyter” and in biblical Greek, presbuteros, which means “elder.” A bishop is the position of “overseer,” which the KJV renders as “bishop” from the same Greek word, episkopos. The position of pastor comes from the apparent meaning “shepherd,” which are translated from the same Greek word, poimen. Elders, presbyters, bishops, overseers, pastors, and shepherds are all the same position in the churches of Christ throughout the Christian Scriptures. A bishop is also called “God’s steward” (Titus 1:7). Notice that there are no higher leaders than elders in the church besides Christ in the Scriptures (1 Pet 5:4). There are no archbishops, high councils, popes, or hierarchical presidents. There are a plurality of elders who shepherd one congregation as an “eldership” (1 Tim 4:14). Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in each church (Acts 14:23). Each congregation is led by elders who lead no other congregations (Acts 20:17; 21:18; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 4:14). Note that there is a convention of Apostles and elders in Acts 15. Being a preacher, minister and, or evangelist does not make someone a pastor. However, when one is older, he may become an elders.
Such men must meet the qualifications listed in the Scriptures. Give attention to the necessary qualifications of the pastors of Christ’s church. Those desiring this position by title are working to pastor and oversee. These men are also to be elders meaning elder in age. Two lists of qualifications for pastors are presented in 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9.
First Timothy 3:1–7:
*One must seek the office
*Must be without reproach
*A husband of one wife
*Able to teach
*Not a drunkard
*Not violent but gentle
*Not a lover of money
*Must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive
*Must not be a recent convert
*Moreover, must be well thought of by outsiders
*A husband of one wife
*His children are believers not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.
*Not a drunkard
*Not greedy for gain
*A lover of good
*Must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught
These shepherds being pastors have specific responsibilities. Most importantly church elders are to lead like Christ, and thus behave as examples to the congregation rather ruling over the church. In 1 Peter 5, Peter as a fellow elder exhorted, “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not lording over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet 5:2–3). By overseeing, church elders are to shepherd by opposing false doctrine and teaching the Truth. Elders are not authoritarian rulers (Mark 10:41–45; Luke 22:25–30). However, Christians are to yield to these leaders (Heb 13:17). As seen in the qualifications for these pastors, elders serve in responsibilities loving good and holding to the Word as taught. In Acts 20:28–31, the Spirit of Christ teaches elders to “pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock,” to be “overseers, to care for the church of God,” and to “be alert,” because Christ “obtained with his own blood” the church. Paul warns elders that “fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Therefore, the Spirit teaches that an elder is to “be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). While elders do not have to labor to financially support oneself in preaching and teaching as 1 Timothy 5:17 reveals, those that labor are worthy of pay and even double pay and honor for such work. Pastors also are to be there for the sick of the congregation when they are called as James 5:14 affirms, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Elders also oversee the collection being the treasury (Acts 11:30).
Is this a picture of the pastors among most churches today? Maybe like most churches, they do not really have these kinds of Scriptural pastors. Instead they have a number of “pastors” who are hired ministers and who do not meet these qualifications. While supporting evangelists who minister to the congregation is Scriptural (1 Cor 9, 1 Tim 4), these individuals are not necessary qualified “pastors” unless they are older married men with faithful children.
What should someone do if one’s home congregation does not have Scriptural elders? Should Christians ignore God’s Word and think “Well, grace will cover this”? Jesus revealed, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 7:21). Evidently, grace does not cover those who do not do the Will of God (1 John 1:5–10). If a Christian attends such a congregation having an unqualified “pastor,” please examine the congregation by the Scriptures since such error is usually not alone. Encourage a minister to lead the congregation in selecting elders from among the congregation (Titus 1:5; cf. Acts 6:1–6; 14:23). Many congregations with unqualified pastors or leaders act like pastors are not Scriptural. Jesus built the church (Matt 16:18), saved the church (Eph 5:23–27), and bought the church with His blood (Acts 20:28). Churches of Christ bear His name. If the church as the bride of Christ bears another man’s name, ideology, organization, is this the church of Jesus Christ? Let elders lead the churches of Christ as Christ established.
“A Minister’s Work in Few Words“.
“Where is Christ’s Church Today?”
“Ten Characteristics among Churches of Christ”
I can understand your frustration, but I cannot go as far you have presented here. The Scriptures above present what the Spirit instructs about the organization of Christ’s church. Going to church is commanded (Heb. 10:25), and it is a huge part of a Christian’s life where one worships God, edifies others while being edified, loves others while being loved, and more.
The Ethiopian Eunuch was just preached Christ and somehow knew that he should be baptized. He knew more than what were initially told and who knows how many more trips he would make to Jerusalem. We are revealed much more concerning God’s will for His church in Scripture.
I’ll check out your site.
After a life time of attending various churches, several years ago I came to the conclusion that the “clergy/laity” system of churchianity is an entirely man-made religious system. “Pastors” displace the purpose of the Holy Spirit in the lives of church goers. In the four Gospels, Jesus Christ never gave “authority” to His disciples to dominate, control or rule over His flock. In fact Jesus never called anyone “Shepherd” other than Himself. Conveying the Gospel to the unconverted is a completely different issue, from playing nursemaid, to born-again Christians, for a lifetime in a concept called “going to church.” Going to church actually has nothing to do with being a follower of Jesus Christ. There is only one flock and one Shepherd, and Jesus Christ is the only Head of the Body. The idea that the lives of the followers of Jesus Christ, revolves around “pastors” and “going to church”, is foreign to everything Jesus taught in the four Gospels.
The story about the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, is a revealing account of how Philip, mentored the Ethiopian for a very short period of time, in one day, and then disappeared from his life forever. Philip did not use this man to start a private church, take up false tithes, and to be the “senior pastor” over his life. Pointing others to Jesus Christ is what real disciples do. Pastors, on the other hand all seek to gather personal disciples to follow the pastors and the churches, rather than make disciples for Christ.
I recommend the website http://www.batteredsheep.com, where anyone can read many articles about these issues.
I see what you’re saying.
I must say that a woman who evangelizes is not a pastor over a congregation nor does she meet God’s ideal in the Scriptures. Churches may differ on this, but God’s revelation in Scripture does not waver. Women may oversee ministries and minister in many areas, and still they are not to be pastors. I’m an evangelist and I’m not qualified to be a pastor by age. All Christians must be fine with the roles that God blesses them with.
Grace and peace in Christ.
Romans chap 1 and chap 16. Paul teaches something called “the obedience of faith”. I find it not uncommon the legislating of rules from the pulpit however personally I’ve found holyness to be a bi product of right believing and right thinking. The “obedience of the faith” calls for us to keep a firm grasp of “the faith” at all times. Ie… Were saved by grace through faith, we are to know our righteousness is based on Christ and not ourselves and this is true apart from how we feel or what we’ve done as a free gift to all so that none should boast.
Keep these truths and besetting sins and satanic powers that have harrassed and bound you for years will break.
It is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance, everlasting grace & mercy conditional only on us recieving Jesus
Do you believe that Paul and Peter were legislating for these congregations to have qualified pastors? Evidently, Paul had no reservation of giving qualifications for church elders/pastors/bishops. Peter did not think twice about addressing these church elders as church pastors, which he was one (1 Pet. 5:1-3).
Let me urge you to reconsider. The extent of forgiving grace is walking in the light for the cleansing of sins (1 John 1:7ff). As John shows, this does not mean that we are perfect and without sins, and so we walk in the light rather than in darkness. Our grace is in Christ and faith in Him is obedient (Rom. 1:5). Also, note “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Pet. 1:22-23). We have part in our purification in being saved and in remaining saved (Phil. 2:12). Our purification is not by works of the Law, man’s law, works of men, traditions, or of ourselves. For instance, the work to pray to God “the sinner’s prayer” for salvation is a tradition of men not found in the Bible. Rather Jesus told us to submit allowing Him to do the work by having another baptize us into Christ (Matt. 28:18-20). As Jesus said, “One who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 22:16, Rom. 6:3-7, etc.). Real faith is an obedient faith. Remember that faith is also a work (John 6:28-29), but this does not mean that we are saved by works when we are saved by the Faith and do those works. Our salvation is conditional (cf. “if” through the Bible).
I agree obedience is the bi product of real faith but faith works by love gal 5;6. People express love to the extent they percieve love toward them from God. The church as a whole generally misses this. We tell folks to come as you are, Jesus loves you but after they come we tell them to get right or God will be angry. Fact is church people generally get saved by grace then put under laws. Sin is forever settled on the cross. Isiah 54 will tell God will never again be angry or rebuke us. This new covenant is like the covenant of Noah. Were saved and made righteousness by grace as a gift. Sanctification holly, justified and redeemed all are gifts apart from work . Hebrews says it was done so we would have a clean conscious toward God. Anyone born again now has Gods law written on their heart and their new nature instictively wants to please God. People don’t need to know the rules, they need to know the love of God. He’s love, he is grace. 2cor 5. We are ministers of reconciliation as Christ was not imputing sin into people. Sin conciousness makes man run from God ask Adam. But love causes us to run to God
I don’t disagree. Yet, I must note the Gospel being the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ by which Christians stand and are saved (1 Cor. 15:1-4). I note the necessary obedience faith (Rom. 1:6) since we are justified by faith in obedience to the Gospel. As we should know, Christians are resurrected, born again, and saved when one is has died to one’s sins, been buried the one baptism, and resurrected unto the newness of life (Rom. 6:3-7, Col. 2:11-12). Those who have not embraced Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection are not saved yet (Rom. 1:16, Gal. 1:6-12ff), since salvation follows belief and baptism (Mark 16:16).
I didn’t mean break the rules of Christ.
Churches love to convert the guidelines set forth in various epistles as “qualification rules.” You have an excellent case in point in the Samaritan well woman account trumping the idea that women cannot run anything in the church. Many churches feel that the “qualifications” mentioned in Paul’s epistles to Timothy & Titus would have been grossly violated by a multiple-time divorcee woman, but nevertheless, she was chosen by Christ for the role. What one church considers a “rule,” another church considers a bygone misinterpretation. Where do we draw the line? With the gospels and the Rule of Christ, if you will.
There, I hope I made it mite more clear. Thanks for the sharpening…
I’ve just never thought about the Samaritan woman evangelism like that. That does again show that anyone can evangelize even one who imprisoned and murdered Christians.
I am curious what you base your understanding of grace and mercy allowing some breaking of the law of Christ. I wish I understood it better. I’d love to get some Scriptures on the matter. I believe as I believe you will agree that those who love God will obey His commands and His word (John 14:21, 23; 1 John 5:3, 2 John 6), but I must also point out that Christ commands that we observe all things that He commanded us (Matt. 28:18-20), which this would be reflexive in that in observing all things then we obey the command to observe all things.
Grace, mercy, and peace in Christ.
I have run into churches or Christian movements that take the “qualifications” for pastors/deacons so literally that they ignore God’s huge grace and mercy. They forget the fact that one of the first revivals of the NT was led by a female Samaritan divorcee who was living out of wedlock with a man. She was probably the most “unqualified” person possible, but Jesus tapped her…
I don’t question the need to maintain biblical standards, but we must also understand biblical contexts and, at times, realize that some of these “rules” are eminently breakable by precedent of the actions of Jesus Christ in the Gospels!
Thanks for an interesting and well-thought-out discussion.
I want you to know that I searched a lot of websites attempting to find out some helpful information on blessing the man of God for Prayer Meeting at my Church. I found your website to be the most helpful and informative. “Thank you.”
Just as you referred to the tribulation, the Bible says that the time is coming and apparently already here when people wish to worship preachers who tickle their ears (2 Tim. 4:3). We are called to follow after Christ, so I would advise one to teach and encourage positively the congregation to elect qualified pastors. Teach this as a positive and Biblical act that the congregation can do to be further blessed by the Lord. Now, the “pastor” may still have a place as an evangelist. He could still preach and teach the members under the oversight of the elders, the true pastors. The evangelists are still needed and can be paid (1 Cor. 9). If the past “pastor” is corrupt, then the elders should deal with this as necessary for this is their purpose as presented above.
If this does not work, then those willing to keep God’s Word in all aspects should unite and possibly seek the blessing of the congregation to plant another church. Take the positive position. With or without the blessing, these must obey God’s Word. Forget about the money and invested time that went into the past congregation and establish another at a public meeting place like the YMCA or a school until a more permanent place can be established. The wolves in sheep’s clothing will many times come in and take the building and monetary investments, but for the blessing of Christ, accept this persecution and do not take a lawsuit against the brothers that are there since this is a sin (1 Cor. 6). Please read 1 Corinthians 6.
If you’re on your own or close to it, there are most likely churches in your area who already have this government. I’d be happy to help you find one. Let me know if this is answer is not relevant and practical for your situation.
Grace and peace in Christ Jesus,
Scott Shifferd – e-mail: ScottJon82@yahoo.com
I agree with you completely, but what are people who disagree with the one pator system(hirelings) to do? This system is centries old and unchangeable, because all these one man pastors keep reminding the flock of how important they are. They twist and turn sripture(wolves among you) to substanciate their possitions(and huge salaries). I think we are in the tribulation now,as (our pastor) does not meet many of the biblical qualifications but is a talented speaker and entertainer(never mind what he says) The church thinks they can’t do without him. When will people stop worshiping preachers and start worshiping the Lord! Some advice please! Thanks, Ray