PASTOR, PASTORS, POPES, AND DEACONS
Much that is made in history over strict orthodoxy in the church both in practice and in names seems to be falling by the wayside in the modern dumbing down of churches through what seems to be endless expansion of definition of terms. I reference primarily the term “pastor.” Are you ready to think with me? Please do!
An illustration of the subject matter at hand is the recent abandonment of the office of Pope by the head of the Catholic Church. According to them, he is the vicar of Christ, successor, of the apostle Peter. That title designates a single authoritative individual succeeding the previous one at death. . . . until now. So, the Pope decided for whatever reason, he did not want to be Pope any longer. A new one must be elected, but the former one is still alive and so designated as that successor. Now there are two living popes. Confusing? Rather! But this is an illustration. On the other hand, what is going on in the Lord’s churches?
A New Testament church has two divinely created offices: pastor and deacon. God calls men into the gospel ministry qualifying them to be the pastor of one of His churches. Churches select men (deacons) to serve them in various capacities as they have need. This has been the biblical and time honored status for the past two thousand years, but things appear to be changing in many churches.
Nowadays, some churches, large or small, have weakened the meaning and exclusiveness of “pastor” by designating others not having a life calling of God to that office as a youth pastor, a seniors’ pastor, a worship pastor (song leader), perhaps a nursery pastor, as well as a senior pastor who usually is the God-called minister and spiritual leader, but not always senior in age. The stripping or expanding of the strict definition of a church pastor to include most any and everything surely lends much deterioration to the meaning and respect of the office and office holder. This usually emanates from a desire to exceed Bible elevation of those who serve in various ministries of the church or else from a desire to lessen the exclusiveness of the God-called leader or both, and it is not good (strange as it seems, this practice makes some unseasoned pastors feel important). Soon every Sunday School Teacher will be known as a “Class Pastor” which leaves only the folks in the pews. Surely they will become known as “Pew Pastors.” If a title must be bestowed on those who serve the church who are not the God-called, spiritual leader, then what is wrong with “deacon?” It is a good, biblical word and it literally means “servant.” It would be so much more fitting and honorable to them who are not called of God into a separate life of spiritual leadership as is a God-called pastor, but are so selected by the church that they serve which may define the description and duration of their duties. But then, what is the real purpose in any action such as this multi-pastor title in the first place? Doubtless, every extra-scriptural action consistently yields increased, undesirable, and possibly unscriptural results. Chalk this writer up as a voice of old-school Baptists.