A Voice in the
January 11, 2000
First of all, we should understand that the term "Baptist" has a broad spectrum. Baptists range from the staunchest legalistic KJV-only Independents, to the most liberal that believe "God is dead" and use the most liberal perVersions, they call the "Bible", out there today. When a person considers the 'range' of these groups, the more conservative they are, the more 'pope-like' the pastors tend to be viewed. What the pastor says -is- "gospel". If you go against what the pastor says, you can essentially be "excommunicated" from their fellowship. And in these same groups, "church membership" is almost equal unto "salvation". (Invitations to come forward for 'church membership' are given side-by-side with pleas for 'salvation') So, taking things to their logical conclusion; if a person speaks against the pastor and is excommunicated, he might as well be damned to hell, because... if you're not a member of their church, you're not a Christian. Or, if you are a Christian, you are terribly 'backslidden'. The 'pastor' rules the board meetings and runs the church. It is 'his' church.
Jesus said about those in leadership, "You know that the rulers of the nations exercise lordship over them, and the great ones exercise authority over them. But it will not be so among you. But whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your servant; Even as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mt20:25-28) Or as Peter says, "nor as lording it over those allotted to you by God, but becoming examples to the flock." (1Pt5:3 -mkjv) This is written to those who have the "oversight" of the "flock of God". (vs2)
Whether they are called "pastors" (Eph4:11), or "elders" (1Tm5:17,19, Jas5:14), they were "appointed" (1Tm4:14, Tit1:5). And they were "leaders" (1Tm5:17) Their responsibility is to "feed/shepherd" the flock with God's Word and Doctrine. (Mt24:45, 1Pt5:2, 1Tm4:13, 2Tm1:13, Tit1:9,2:1)
How many leaders are there in any given congregation? It seems obvious that in a group of any substantial size, there is a group of elders. 1Tm4:14 speaks of "elderhood" (LITV). But that verse also speaks of the elderhood appointing -specific- 'individuals' as leaders. Even with the early apostles, as much as the Church grew by the thousands and scattered, there seems to have been a leader that they all gravitated towards, James, (Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:18, Gal2:12) the Lord's brother (Gal1:19); who apparently was saved after Jesus' crucifixion, because prior to it, he was taunting Jesus in unbelief. (Jn7:3-5)
Perhaps we can gain understanding from Moses and Israel in the wilderness. Israel has just come out of Egypt, and Moses is trying to be "sole judge" over people's everyday concerns. And at the advice of Jethro, his father-in-law, he 'appoints' people to be in leadership over progressively smaller groups of people. And so they had "rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens." (Ex18:25) Paul exhorts Timothy, "And what things you heard from me through many witnesses, commit these things to faithful men, such as will be competent also to teach others." (2Tm2:2)
And, of course, this is the only way the early Church could have functioned, going "house to house". (Acts5:42)
Ultimately, the teaching of God's Word is a "family" function. God had instructed, "And you shall teach them [God's Laws] to your sons, and shall speak of them as you sit in your house, and as you walk in the way, and as you are lying down, and as you are rising up. And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand; and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house, and on your gates." (Deu6:7-9) And where Paul instructs women to "be silent" (1Tm2:11, 1Cor14:34) he lays the burden of responsibility upon the man/husband of the house. (1Cor14:35)
Churches, instead of having so many women's "teas", should be having training times for the -men-. Sadly, one typically doesn't hear of very many congregations that do that! And then, they wonder where the 'apostasy' came from!
However large (or small) the congregation is, the leadership trickles down to progressively smaller groups. Ultimately, the leadership, training and worship of God is a 'family' matter...led by the -Dad- of each family. And, if your 'church' -is- your family, your 'pastor' -is- the Dad.