There is a common belief within many churches today, and it is this: “The pastor (or pastors) must do all or most of the work, otherwise, what are we paying him (them) for?” This notion, however, is not from the Bible, but is from the devil and will, if continually upheld, keep many of our churches in spiritual stagnation and in decline. Why is it that the notion of a pastor, or a few pastors, doing “all the work” within a church is one that is from the devil?
First, the idea of “shared leadership” is a biblical concept that is ignored and overlooked if one pastor, or even a few pastors, are doing all the work. There are two connected biblical concepts, under the idea of “shared leadership,” that are undermined if one, or a few pastors, do all the work in a church: The gifts given to the corporate body of believers are undermined, and the church offices, and respective tasks, of elder/pastor and deacon, are undermined.
BURIED GIFTS WITHIN THE BODY OF CHRIST
The Bible is clear that there are a variety of gifts given to a body of believers for the edification of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12-14; Romans 12:3-8). The very idea of “gifts” (plural!) given to a body (“many members”) upholds the idea that ministry is a “shared” endeavor. If only one, or a few, are doing all the work in a church, then there are many gifts, as well as many individuals within that body of believers, that are being ignored and underutilized. How can a physical body function in its fullest capacity if only one member, or a few, members of that body, are working? If all the other parts of a physical body are not working except for, possibly, one leg and one ear, then how can that body function to its maximum capacity of usefulness? If someone believes that the pastor, or pastors, are to do all the work within the church, then that is like looking at a body that has only one arm working and saying, “Wow, that’s a healthy, fully functional body working at full capacity there!” while the rest of the parts of the body remain inactive and dormant. This is clearly not a picture of health.
NEGLECTED DUTIES WITHIN THE BODY OF CHRIST
Also, to say that only one person (or a few persons) is to do all the work is to undermine the very concept of elders (plural!) as well as deacons, as outlined in the Bible (deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and elders/pastors in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9). Elders/pastors are to lead the church by providing oversight (1 Peter 5:2ff; Acts 20:28) and equipping the many members in the body to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). You could make a good case, biblically, that the more individual members that are properly using their God-given gifts, then the more clear it is that the elders/pastors are doing their jobs. Alternatively, the fewer number of individuals that are utilizing their gifts, the less clear it is that the elders/pastors are doing their jobs, or, at least, are allowed to do their jobs. Deacons are to serve the church by taking care of practical responsibilities (Acts 6:1-7), but by also protecting the time of the pastor/elders so that they can do the job that is required by their office, namely, rightly handling the Word of God through the teaching ministry of the church as well providing overall direction and guidance for the church. If pastors/elders are doing all the work, then neither the pastors nor the deacons are doing their jobs as assigned by Scripture.
“THE ARM CAN WALK & THE EAR CAN SEE!”
For elders/pastors, for example, to be over the organization of the potluck dinner on Sunday (on a consistent, time-consuming basis!) is like telling the arm of a physical body to do the walking or the ear to do the seeing. Elders/pastors are not “above & beyond” being over the potluck dinner (far from it since even Jesus washed feet!), but it is a hindrance to their primary responsibilities, as outlined in Scripture, and any hindrance in their ministry will ultimately be a hindrance to the church overall. If a church cares about its own spiritual development and its own flourishing, then it must be certain that the elders/pastors are not over the potluck or any other number of ministry events/programs that God has not called, nor arguably equipped them, to do. Or, alternatively, if deacons allow pastors to do more work than the Bible requires of them, then they are allowing the single hand of a body, for example, to do the job of the feet, arms, eyes, and nose all at once! Deacons should work to keep unnecessary work off elders/pastors so that they (elders/pastors) can fulfill their specific responsibilities. It is not the deacons’ job to provide oversight over the elders/pastors to “make sure” that they (pastors/elders) are doing their jobs, but it is the deacons’ job to serve their church by serving the elders/pastors (as well as others within the congregation), and assure that they (elders/pastors) are not taking on more than God has required of them so that they are free to do their jobs. If pastors/elders are not doing their Scripturally-assigned jobs, then one can make the case that very few, if any, are doing their Scripturally-assigned jobs within the church as they should be. If none of these biblical guidelines and parameters are in place, then the church’s health, overall, will continue to suffer just as a physical body would begin to break down if one or just a few parts were doing all the work.If pastors are doing all the work, then neither the pastors nor the deacons are doing their jobs Click To Tweet
HEALTHY CHURCHES=HEALTHY LEADERSHIP MODEL
So, the devil wants your pastor (or few pastors) to do all the work so that more people within the body of the church won’t be equipped and mobilized for the work of the ministry. For the sake of the church, and for the sake of Christ’s mission, don’t believe that lie!
Could it be that many of our churches are suffering, spiritually, due to a flawed ecclesiological model that has one pastor as the “leader” of the congregation instead of the biblical concept of “shared leadership” by a multiplicity of elders/pastors? Could it be that we find many of our church members unfulfilled in their walks with Christ because they are not being equipped for the work of ministry that God has specifically equipped, and designed them to do, because both pastors, and those within the congregation, believe, erroneously, that it’s the “pastor’s job” to do most of the work? Truly, less work is done for the Kingdom when many believe it is only the job of a few (see also Exodus 18:13-27).
Pastors: Keep believing the devil’s lie that the work of the ministry is all about what you, alone, can do for your church and your church will wither away spiritually.
Church members: Keep believing the devil’s lie that your pastor (or pastors) are supposed to do all the work in the ministry and you’ll remain dissatisfied within your church, and possibly your life overall, because your gifts are being buried and squelched. Additionally, if you hold onto the devil’s lie, then the church that you say you love so much, will continue to fall fast into spiritual decline. It is only as we begin to structure our churches, and our biblical offices, within the biblical parameters, that we will see His Body, the church, flourishing and functioning well.Truly, less work is done for the Kingdom when many believe it is only the job of a few Click To Tweet
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