The local church has begun to assume the lengthening shadow of a business—and the church has no business being a business. Biblically, the church is not a corporation. You won’t find the word board in the Scriptures. That’s a corporate term. You won’t find the word chairman either. We need to take these things seriously!
So let me encourage you to do some original work regarding the role of pastors, elders, and deacons in the church. Be sure you’re doing your study from the New Testament, because there was no church in the Old Testament. You won’t be able to start until Acts 2—that’s where the church begins. Acts gives you a model of the church, but it doesn’t talk about how a church is ordered, what we often call “church government” (that’s another corporate term). Revelation doesn’t address it either.
You and I need to be good students of the letters of Paul if we hope to understand the church.
Look at the Original: Churches and Leaders
When you go to the Scriptures, you discover how unique the church is.
- The church is not an extension of the state.
- The church is not a political precinct.
- The church does not resemble a corporation, nor should it.
- The church is a local assembly made up of those who believe in Jesus Christ.
And church leaders? We are servants. No one is elevated above the level of servant. No one.
- The senior pastor is a servant leader.
- So are the other pastors on staff.
- Deacons and elders should be servant-hearted people.
- The better the servant, the better the leader.
Look at Your Purpose as a Pastor
As a pastor, your role is to equip saints for the work of ministry. That’s your goal.
- You’re to build into the lives of believers.
- You certainly do evangelism, but that’s not your major goal.
- Your major purpose, as given by God, is set forth in Ephesians 4:12: “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”
You are regularly assisting the body to go deeper and to think broader and more visionary about a world that’s lost its way. Your flock needs you to equip them for that.
God has called you to it.
John Piper wrote a penetrating volume you should own, called, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. Let me close this post with just a few words from Piper:
We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. It is not the mentality of the slave of Christ. [I love that!] Professionalism has nothing to do with the essence and heart of the Christian ministry. The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we leave in our wake. For there is no professional childlikeness (Matt. 18:3); there is no professional tenderheartedness (Eph. 4:32); there is no professional panting after God (Ps. 42:1). But our first business is to pant after God in prayer. Our business is to weep over our sins (James 4:9). Is there professional weeping? Our business is to strain forward to the holiness of Christ and the prize of the upward call of God (Phil. 3:14); to pummel our bodies and subdue them lest we be cast away (1 Cor. 9:27).[ref]John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), 1–2.[/ref]