The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘overseers

Elders and pastors

with 2 comments

I appreciated this post from Conrad Mbewe in which he seeks to give a brief defence of the distinctive use of the terms “elder” and “pastor” within an eldership. He concludes,

. . . let me make it clear that my goal was not to convince anyone who already holds to the position that all elders are pastors and all pastors are elders, and that, therefore, the terms should be used interchangeably. Because that was not my aim, I have not answered the usual questions that arise from the position I hold on to. Rather, my purpose was to simply show that those of us who see things differently do have some biblical premise on which we do so. We are not simply upholding unbiblical practice and tradition.

We believe that a healthy eldership in an already established church ought to comprise those who claim to have the call of God upon their lives to the preaching ministry and those who simply express willingness and a desire to serve as overseers. Whereas the Bible uses the terms “overseer” and “elder” interchangeably, it seems to leave the term “pastor” to those with a very distinct call to the preaching ministry—like apostle, prophet, and evangelist. I hope I have also shown that to argue that the Bible uses titles merely on the basis of what people do in a general way in the church would render other titles meaningless. And finally, please remember that the issue of titles is not a hill that I am willing to die on.

Personally, I imagine that – while I would hold that elders/pastors/overseers are the one office, with the names employed substantially interchangeably – in practice the distinction that I would make in terms of gift and function within the pastorate/eldership would put me substantially in the same place as my brother. Frankly, as long as the distinction does not lead to a downgrade in the responsibility and authority of those deemed “elders” as opposed to “pastors” I should hope that little if anything would be lost. However, I also recognise that the lack of a distincton can lead to a downgrade in responding to and embracing a definite and defining call from the Lord, endorsed by the church, to preach the word as a matter of vocation, and that would be tragic.

Read it all.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 19 November 2011 at 08:29

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