Hans Finzel states in his The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make, in Chapter 5 that ”Dictatorships in Decision Making” is a mistake. The NT is replete with examples of leadership that is not dictatorship.
The importance of leadership is seen in the early church (Ryrie, Basic Theology, p 412).
1. Relief funds were sent from Antioch to the elders in the churches in Judea (Acts 11:29, 30).
2. Paul appointed elders almost immediately in the churches founded on the 1st missionary journey (Acts 14:23). Here is a plurality of elders but not necessarily the lay elder rule style. We have a plurality of elders with a senior pastor and associates.
3. The Council of Jerusalem was conducted by leaders (Acts 15:2).
4. Elders and deacons are offices by the end of Acts (Phil. 1:1 “bishops and deacons” elders not mentioned because elders and bishop are the same).
5. Paul considered leaders necessary for the proper function of the church (Tit. 1:5).
6. Leadership is a spiritual gift (Rom. 12:8).
THE NAMES OF BIBLICAL LEADERS (Pastors and Deacons are the two NT offices.)
Names of pastors in the NT
1. Pastor (Emphasizes the manner and motive of the biblical leader. He leads and protects his flock from false teachers: Acts 20:28, 29). Like the Lord our Shepherd in Psalm 23 and John 10, pastors feed and protect their flocks.
Pastor, the most commonly used term today, was the least common term used in the NT for this biblical leader. The noun form (Gk. poimen) is used only once in the NT for this biblical leader (Eph. 4:11). The “pastors and teachers” are one group and not two because of “some” fits the Granville Sharp rule (two nouns preceded by an article and joined by kai “and”). Wallace, however, makes an exception with plurals (Wallace p. 284). The verb form (Gr. poimaino) in used for this biblical leader twice (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2). Over 30 times in the Pastorals Epistles, Paul commands his apostolic representatives, Timothy and Titus, who are serving in the roles as pastors, to teach.
2. Elder (Gr. presbyteros) emphasizes the pastor’s maturity. “Elder” was a Jewish OT term (Numbers 11:16). After the captivity, elders were leaders in the synagogue. This role carried over into the NT as in Mt 16:21.
“Elder” is the same office as “bishop” (Gr. episkopos, 1 Tim. 3:4 with 5:17; Tit. 1:5-7; Acts 20:17, 28). Does the NT teach a plurality of lay elders (i.e., teaching and ruling elders)? Wayne Grudem says “Yes.”
“There is quite a consistent pattern of plural elders as the main governing group in New Testament churches. For instance, in Acts 14:23 we read, “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed.”’ Grudem also quotes Acts 11:30; 15:2; 20:17; Tit. 1:5; 1st Tim. 4:14; James 5:14 (Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 912).
Some of these references are to the many houses churches in a city (1 Cor.1:2) or area (Acts 9:31). The church at Jerusalem had to consist of many house churches with many pastor or elders (Acts 11:30).
“So the concept of the local church can include a group in a single house, the several groups in a city, or even the many groups in a region. . . Each house church might have had a single elder who, together with the other elders in other churches, constituted the elders of the church in that city” (Ryrie, pages 395 and 414).
The NT Epistles teach plurality of pastors and singularity of ruling and teaching elder (or senior pastor).
The letters to the seven churches in Rev. 2, 3 were addressed to the “messenger” or pastor not elders (messenger [Gk angelos] is a human messenger in James 2:25). Paul uses the singular when talking about the “Bishop” in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 but uses the plural when talking about the “Deacons” in vv. 8-13.
In 1 Tim. 3:2, Paul required that the bishop, elder, or pastor be able to teach and “rule” v.4. Paul did not require that just the teaching elder be able to teach and not the ruling elders as Grudem says.
“Paul never says that all elders are to be able to teach publicly or to preach sermons to the congregation, and it would be reasonable to think that “apt teacher” could be someone who is able to explain God’s Word privately. So perhaps not all elders are called to do public teaching—perhaps not all have gifts for teaching in that specific way” (Grudem, pages 915, 916).
Paul is emphasizing the public ministry of the pastor in 1 and 2 Timothy (1 Timothy 2:1-12; 4:11-16).
3. Bishop or overseer (Gr. episkopos) emphasizes his ministry of leadership.
These three offices are God called and ordained men not a board of elders who are lay-leaders. The three terms are used interchangaebly: Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Tim 3:1, 2; 5:17, 19; Tis 1:5, 9; 1 Peter 5:1, 2, 4.
THE MINISTRY OF BIBLICAL LEADERS
1. To Lead
Here are some leadership verses: 1 Tim. 3:4-5; 5:17; 1 Pet. 5:2-5. Pastors are not to rule harshly. Some see the leadership gift on two levels: Rom. 12:8; 1 Cor. 12:28.
1. Managerial gift of government or administration or helsman in Acts 27:11. There are three important persons in Acts 27: The owner, pilot, and the crew. The pilot is the same person Paul refers to in 1 Cor. 12:28 with the gift of government. The owner is the visionary who sees the end from the beginning and the pilot is more of the manager of the crew.
2. Leadership gift enables the leader to see the end from the beginning. While these are two different levels of leadership both are important. Every visionary leader needs managers around him or her to give attention to the details of the work force.
2. To Teach
This aspect of leadership is seen in Eph. 4:11; 1 Tim. 3:2; 5:17; Tit. 1:9. We lead from the pulpit. Are deacons required to teach according to 1 Timothy 3:10?
3. To Protect
In Acts 20:28-29, Paul told his pastors, to warn about grievious wolves.
Driscoll says pastors are to feed the sheep, rebuke the swine, and kill the wolves. Read Jesus’ rebuke of religious wolves in Matthew 23.
Wiesrbe told of a pastor who attended a court hearing to protest the building of a tavern near his church and a public school. The lawyer for the tavern owners said to him, “I’m surprised to see you here today, Reverend. As a shepherd, shouldn’t you be out taking care of the sheep?”
The pastor replied, “Today I’m fighting the wolf!”
Martin Luther says, “With the wolves you cannot be too severe. With the weak sheep you cannot be too gentle.”
THE BENEFIT OF TEAM MINISTRY OR PLURALITY OF PASTORS WITH A SENIOR PASTOR
1. More ministry accomplished (Acts 11:25, 26)
2. More accountability (Gal. 2:9-14; Prov. 27:17)
3. More wisdom (Acts 15)
4. More encouragement (Acts 18:5)
5. More training (Acts 17:1)
I heard Les Olala who was at Northland Baptist College one time say that pastors need three different kinds of people in his life:
1. A Paul who is a mentor and provides a pattern
2. A Barnabas who is a friend and provides partnership
3. A Timothy who is a trainee and a protege
Hans Finzel in his The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make in chapter 1 exposes another myth which is “The Top Down Attitude.” Finzel says this is the number one leadership hang-up. We certainly do not see this hang-up in the NT.